Archive for Thursday, February 8, 2007

Public library on park site unlikely

February 8, 2007


Building a new library in a downtown park might be a little too outside the box for city commissioners' tastes.

A majority of city commissioners Wednesday said the idea of using Constant Park as the site for a library - as suggested this week by a team of city-hired consultants - is innovative but probably not very likely.

"I don't see it in the mix right now," City Commissioner Sue Hack said.

The idea of using the park - which is directly north and east of Sixth and Tennessee streets and abuts the Kansas River - was one of many ideas that the PlaceMakers consulting team unveiled at Tuesday evening's City Commission meeting.

Consultants touted the area as a winning solution to the city's library question, in part, because the city already owns the property and its location would serve as a gateway into downtown.

It also would eliminate the need to move the existing downtown U.S. Post Office, which is a major part of the current proposal for a new library. Members of the Fritzel family have proposed building the library on the current site of the post office at Seventh and Vermont streets as part of a public-private partnership to redevelop major portions of Vermont Street.

But several commissioners said Wednesday that they were not convinced the Constant Park location would do much to meet one of the commission's goals of using the library to spur downtown development.

"I'm afraid that it wouldn't have the same ability to help boost the vitality of downtown," City Commissioner Boog Highberger said. "I don't think it would do much to address our parking needs in the downtown either."

Highberger, though, stopped short of saying the current post office site was the best location for a new library, although it has been recommended by the city's library board.

"My main concern about that location is whether the library has become a secondary consideration in the plan," Highberger said of the plan, which calls for about $100 million in private retail, commercial and residential development over a 10-year period.

Mayor Mike Amyx also said he wasn't interested in considering the Constant Park location. Instead, he wants city commissioners to begin focusing on whether the city can afford a new library, which has been estimated to be a $30 million project. He said he plans to have the library issue on Tuesday's City Commission agenda.

Hack, Highberger and Amyx all said they were reluctant to move forward on the Constant Park location, in part, because the idea had not been presented to the city's library board, which did a full review of the Fritzel proposal.

Hack also said she liked the Fritzel proposal because of how it could add needed parking to the northern parts of downtown and spark new development on Vermont.

"I think it has great potential," Hack said.

Bob Schulte, an executive with Gene Fritzel Construction Co., said his group was continuing with efforts to find a new downtown location for the post office in order to move the library proposal forward. Schulte confirmed that the company now is looking for a larger downtown location than they once were.

That's because the post office no longer has an interest in using the former Tanger Mall location in North Lawrence as a site for its distribution center, he said. Schulte said the post office, for efficiency reasons, now wants to keep both its retail and distribution operations in a single location downtown.


Sigmund 11 years, 3 months ago

Does this City make any decisions without paying a consultant first? How about two or three ply toilet paper in the restrooms, what does the City paid consultant say?

terrapin2 11 years, 3 months ago

To set the record straight, SettingTheRecordStraight, actually, some of us DO want a new library! And at a reasonable price. But I would agree that they haven't presented any winning options yet either.

As a college town with a population of 85K+ we should be upgrading our public library so it can handle the community's needs for the next 30 years. A good public library is essential to a healthy and well-educated community, and a technology-based innovative design for the new library would be even better.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 3 months ago

"We really don't communicate that much about the divorce, but I know that she feels like Rick never really made an attempt to pay her her share of the house."

Another indication of just how clueless you are, Marion. If Hack and Amyx get just one more vote on their side, the Fritzel (let'd do it for the developers, er, the children) proposal will be approved and put before the voters.

KsTwister 11 years, 3 months ago help boost the vitality of downtown,"

You jest,surely you jest! But $30 mil is a joke when other resources are available and our library was built to add upper floors to it already. Eminent domain to acquire the Post Office will result in a long lawsuit,they have no intention of moving(as stated earlier) even if evicted for public use. Next election please.

Eric Neuteboom 11 years, 3 months ago

Maybe I'm just a little off (many of my friends would agree!) but how viable is the need for a library anymore? I honestly can't remember the last time I (or any of my friends) said "man, I really need to go to the library." It seems that there are so many other available sources for information that the need to sink $30 + million into this project seems, well, not a waste but perhaps a miscalculation of our needs as a city. I say renovate the current library and dump that money into a new rec center for Lawrence!

Richard Heckler 11 years, 3 months ago

I do not understand the excitement over any of what Placemakers proposed. These were only ideas of what possibly could be done at least that was my understanding.

The current library apparently was not designed for additional floors however an addition could be constructed on the east end where the large concrete walkway is located according to architects.

If the post office site is chosen the city loses control of the current library site according to the LJW... this is vague to me. It's hard to believe that to be true and why would the city give up an exisitng resource?

Underground parking construction is quite expensive. Does everyone HAVE to park at the front door? As for the library I still like the 9th and New Hampshire location,keeping the old library for expansion of city office space and leaving the post office where it is. The new PO plan is to move into the failed Tanger Mall with the public access elsewhere downtown.

Maybe the Fritzells could add on convention space for the Eldridge in the 7th&Vermont parking lot?

Why is all new downtown retail focused on the north end only? Why not spread it out so all of our small business benefits from walk by traffic thus more profit and city revenue? As I was growing up it seems chains were merely anchors surrounded by tons of small business retail. Downtown does not need but a very few big name anchors to stimulate business. The downtown antique mall was a JC Penney's.

akuna 11 years, 3 months ago

I use the library and want a new library and want it to be downtown. I am very happy with the proposal that have been put forward. I think downtown will greatly benefit from a new library and that will help the rest of the city.

Godot 11 years, 3 months ago

"But several commissioners said Wednesday that they were not convinced the Constant Park location would do much to meet one of the commission's goals of using the library to spur downtown development."

Wow. this is the first time that I recall hearing the commissioners admit it is the goal of the commission to use the library to redevelop downtown; in the past it was the library board saying that; now we know the commissioners were behind it all along.

The taxpayers of this city are not responsible for maintaining the wealth of the downtown property owners. This is outrageous.

No new library. We do not need it. If the DLA wants to redevelop downtown, let them work it out themselves and finance it with private funds.

What a crock.

Godot 11 years, 3 months ago

The library has nothing to do with "the children." NOTHING. It is all about enriching downtown property owners. Keep that in mind when the campaign ads supporting the library appear, featuring the beaming smiles of children being read to at the library.

salad 11 years, 3 months ago

Douglas county needs a library SYSTEM, not another central library in Lawrence. Johnson county has an amazing library system with one central library in OP. You can get any current book, DVD, audio book, etc.. for FREE. You can reserve stuff and manage your account completely on line. It's wonderful.

monkeyhawk 11 years, 3 months ago

A library will never, ever be a destination (unless the Clinton library had been built here, of course). People will not flock in droves to go to a library. It is disappointing that this is the best idea that the city can come up with for revitalizing an area that Doug Compton, Larry Brown, et. al. own. It is not up to the taxpayers to enrich private business owners. It is surprising that an entitlement minded city would even think of this. Aren't they supposed to take our money and give it the helpless?

I am glad to see that they have finally come out of the closet regarding this issue, however. What is more amazing is that some on this forum still buy the "library" thing.

Jamesaust 11 years, 3 months ago

While the Constant Park proposal is hardly an obvious choice, I note that its single greatest merit is the one being ignored --

The land is free because the City already owns it, AND building there would allow the City to sell the existing library site and use the proceeds to PAY FOR the new construction.

Oh well, its only taxpayer money. Who cares about that?

white_mountain 11 years, 3 months ago

I propose we complete the SLT first and THEN talk about a new library, meat market & cheese pavilion, etc.

white_mountain 11 years, 3 months ago

by the way, is the city commission's budget posted publicly anywhere?

I'd like to find out how much they've got budgeted for future consultant fees.

Godot 11 years, 3 months ago

The Fritzels own most the 600 and 700 blocks of Vermont and some on Mass, that's why. They own property that they want to see developed, and they want the taxpayers to fund it. Part of their proposal is for the Fritzels to own the library and lease it back to the city. So, they will get control of more land (the PO site and the old library site), and will get a continuous income stream from leasing the library to the city; they will get the fees for building the library; they will get tax favored treatment for funding and redeveloping the rest of their land. What a sweet deal for them.

white_mountain 11 years, 3 months ago

that clears it all up, thanks hawk lol

I was away for a while so might have missed something, but did a decision ever come out of that big meeting on which route to use for completing the SLT.. or did they just assume we'd forget about it?

white_mountain 11 years, 3 months ago

The article notes that the extended comment period for the SLT ends on January 19th.. that was 3 weeks ago.

Have we reached a decision yet??

did we forgo the SLT in lieu of the meat market & cheese pavilion?

News_to_me 11 years, 3 months ago

I wouldn't worry about this library proposal too much. Just like the SLT, we'll still be talking about it in ten of fifteen years. As far as the Place Makers proposals, WOW! Those were awfully pretty pictures for 250,000 dollars. They'll look good hanging up somewhere as part of the percent for art program.

usaschools 11 years, 3 months ago

Godot is right; the powers that build want the taxpayers to foot the bill for a library that we can't afford.

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