Archive for Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Public hears plans for library expansion

The library held a public forum on the proposed $18 million expansion to the Lawrence Public Library.

May 18, 2010


Lawrence residents voiced their opinions on a proposed expansion of the Lawrence Public Library on Monday night at a meeting held in the library’s auditorium.

Architects presented five options for the project, allowing residents to tell them what they did and did not like about each design concept.

“They have some good plans, and I’d like to see something that has potential for growth,” library patron Jonathan Krasick said about the presentation.

Earlier this year, the Lawrence Public Library Board of Trustees requested the Lawrence City Commission approve a public referendum to pay for the renovations, seeking $18 million for the project. If commissioners support the plan, the referendum would appear on the November ballot.

Although the trustees are aware of the difficult economic climate, trustee chairman Michael Machell said, “I can see why people might say now is not the greatest time, but I would say ‘when is a good time?’’”

The design concepts each include additional downtown parking, room for enhanced services to children and greater access to technology.

The library was built in 1972, when trustees say Lawrence’s population was half the size it is now.


parrothead8 8 years, 1 month ago

Michael Machell wants to know "when is a good time?" about when the economy is a little better and more people have jobs and homes? Would that be a good time?

parrothead8 8 years, 1 month ago

No, I don't know that, because I don't know anybody who got a job using the library.

cowboy 8 years, 1 month ago

The money isn't there Flanders , show some fiduciary responsibility and postpone this effort till later , much later.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 1 month ago

As the article immediately following this one makes clear: the city is already facing a massive budget shortfall. And if you've hadn't noticed, our legislature just passed a 1% sales tax increase. This is on top of the three sales tax increases the city of Lawrence passed in 2007.

So no, Mr. Machell, "now is not the greatest time" to raise taxes for your special interest project. If you want a new library, raise 100% of the funds from private sources.

jayhawklawrence 8 years, 1 month ago

I guess it's the right time for the people who get a piece of our $18 million that we don't have.

anonyname 8 years, 1 month ago

I guess it's the right time to read that the Lawrence City Commission may possibly put to the voters "a public referendum to pay for the renovations."

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 1 month ago

But the city commission only puts tax INCREASES to the voters; they never put tax relief before the voters. Thus, our only hope is to get lucky and to maintain the status quo. That didn't happen in 2007 when the majority of votes stuck 100% of us with three sales tax increases. City commissioners should only very rarely put tax increases to a public vote. And library expansions hardly qualify as worthy of new and higher taxes.

anonyname 8 years, 1 month ago

The City Commission can be voted out. You could run for one of the three spots in the election next year if you so choose.

'The majority of votes' is how we do things here. GWBush got the majority of votes (at least in 2004); many strongly disagreed with his policies and actions, but he was elected president. Obama got the majority of votes in 2008. Many, including most who comment on LJW articles, strongly disagree with him; but he was elected president. If the City Commission does put this on the ballot, the majority will show their preference, one way or the other. A minority will disagree - maybe you, maybe me.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 1 month ago

I understand your point - although I see a sizeable difference betwen direct election of candidates and the electorate micromanaging our city's budget.

My rant is that I'm tired of having to vote against tax hikes every time a special interest group successfully lobbies our city commission for more of our money.

Thinking_Out_Loud 8 years ago

The entire subject of the 2000 election is a dead horse. George W. Bush won the majority of electoral votes, and that's all he needed. Whether he won the majority (or even a plurality, if you care for the distinction) of the popular votes is irrelevant.

He was elected President of the United States following the process set forth in the United States Constitution.

If you want to argue about whether the Supreme Court made the "right" decision in Bush v. Gore (which was based on the Equal Protection Clause) or even in Bush v. Palm Beach County, that's fine. But Constitutionally speaking, Bush received the majority of the electoral votes. His presidency was Constitutionally legitimate.

svenway_park 8 years, 1 month ago

This will pass with 70% of the vote, despite all the bitc**** by posters here.

Angela Longhurst 8 years, 1 month ago

If this passes it will only mean about $2.40 more per month in taxes. Also, approximately 3 million of that estimate is the parking garage. I dont think this should even be in the lump sum of the library project, it should be a seperate vote.

d_prowess 8 years, 1 month ago

This comment sort of sums up the point I make below. angelalovesart points out that the increase is only $2.40 per month. Most voters don't see that as being a big deal for something like a better library. And it probably isn't for the majority of voters. But for some people this is a big deal, especially when it is tacked on to other "small" tax increases being proposed. So the Commissioners need to decide to they accept the responsibility for doing what is best for everyone in the community or just the majority.

d_prowess 8 years, 1 month ago

I also think that if put to a vote, it will pass. But a lot of things would pass a vote if they were put on the ballot (ice rink, more parks, etc.). The majority of voters don't see the small tax increases as negative enough to go against projects that are generally seen as good for a community.

But I feel the reason we vote the City Commission into their positions is so that they can take the time to fully understand the economic situation the city is in and rule on projects appropriately for the current outlook. The majority of the public is not as informed about these things as the commissioners. So to put this to a public vote, I feel, is just a cop out from the commission to doing the hard part of their jobs and telling some people no, not now.

esteshawk 8 years, 1 month ago

If the City Commission blocks the vote, won't that essentially be taking the right of self governance away from The People?

Also - building right now is about as good as it gets: interest rates are low, construction workers are out of work, and material costs are low.

The time to invest is in an economic downturn, not at the height.

d_prowess 8 years, 1 month ago

But why do we vote in the city commission then? Isn't it for them to make these decisions? Otherwise, shouldn't we just have a city administrator that compiles every issue like this and makes sure it ends up on a ballot?
There are a lot of people that don't agree with the way that they choose the order of streets to fix. Should that then be put to a vote? What about giving raises to city employees? Where does it end?

BROWNIE 8 years, 1 month ago

So, at $18 million for 20,000sf, they are willing to have the taxpayers pay $900 per square foot for this renovation. That is ludicrous. I know for a fact that the city could buy the eastern half of the Rivefront Mall for around $3.5 Millon and that is 45,000sf. They also would have 100 parking spaces versus the 20 that they have now. So, let's say they spent $123/sf to renovate the Riverfront. That's $200/sf, with over twice the space and five times the parking. What am I missing here? $18 million for 20,000sf versus $9 million for 45,000sf.

BROWNIE 8 years, 1 month ago

Plus the fact that they could sell the current site for some kind of anyone?

svenway_park 8 years, 1 month ago

Brownie, you previously supported the "Developer-based" solution for the library.....I am thinking those numbers were like 30-50 million bucks, with a lot of the payments going back to line the pockets of the private individuals, not the city.

Now it sounds like you want be the listing agent for the Riverfront Mall. Sounds like you are in the real estate development business. And with a name like Brownie....... hmmmmm.

I like what the library has proposed. I like the library at that location. It is unfortunate that they are saddled with parking reconfiguration costs of that project.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 1 month ago

Because you like the library and you use the library and you see value in expanding the library does not mean my family wants to pay for it.

jafs 8 years, 1 month ago

This is such a short-sighted, stingy view I can't believe it.

We all pay taxes that are used for a variety of items - I'm sure you use some city services that I don't use, and vice-versa.

People without children pay for public schools.

What city services do you value even if you don't use them personally? If there are none, then you're just very selfish.

puddleglum 8 years, 1 month ago

does anybody else notice that the shelter is moving out of downtown and now the library wants to expand?

mr_right_wing 8 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Machell, a "good time" would be when our own city, county, state and federal government isn't looking under every rock for some spare change. When folks out here in the real world have a buck or two in their wallet that you can try and get the city commission to grab.

Unless things drastically change; you'll get a "NO" vote from me.

I have one world for you Michael "TURNIPS"!!

Clark Coan 8 years, 1 month ago

This is the wrong time to ask the public for a tax increase to expand the current library. Many taxpayers are hurting financially due to the recession, so now is not the time to ask the taxpayers to dig into their pockets. Also, since it is not a presidential general election, the turnout will be much lower thereby decreasing the number of potential supporters.

The main reason I am opposed to this proposal is that I think Lawrence voters would support a new library which would be even better than the fabulous Topeka Shawnee County Library. The latter is literally a destination place which serves the needs of the whole community. It was funded partially by Shawnee County taxpayers.

So, I propose that the City back off from holding a referendum this November and begin planning anew. There are literally hundreds of millionaire county taxpayers who use the library but are not paying for services. So, one of the first steps would be to expand the tax base to include the county (but exclude Baldwin and Eudora which have libraries). The second step could well be to hire the architect who designed the Topeka Library and have him come up with architectural plans. The final step would be to hold the referendum during either the 2012 or 2016 presidential general election.

Lawrence is perhaps the best town in Kansas. So, let’s build the best library in the Sunflower State.

PapaB 8 years, 1 month ago

We need to stop spending money we don't have. Moving the homeless shelter is ridiculous and expanding the library now would be even worse. Neither is a dire need, so neither merits squeezing more money out of the taxpayers.

no_thanks 8 years, 1 month ago

I find it incomprehensible that they can propose an $18 Million expansion project for improving the library. I just have a hard time believing that utilization of the library is at a point that requires expanding.

jafs 8 years, 1 month ago

Parking is definitely an issue.

Also, during difficult economic times, more people do use the library.

Why not create an annex, with part of the library services available, in one of the Tanger mall storefronts? We could have the reference section there. Frees up some parking and other usable space at the main library, and doesn't require a massive investment. In fact, given the fact that most of the Tanger mall has been vacant for quite a while, the city could probably get a very good rental rate there.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

Putting this matter before the voters is the right thing to do. Kudos to the Library staff for straight thinking. I do appreciate the opportunity.

In reality Lawrence,Kansas should remove a ton more spending authorization from the politicians we put in office. Politicians have not proved to be the economic giants of our time therefore it is time for the taxpaying public to have the final say on most financial decisions.

KS 8 years, 1 month ago

I like the Riverfront Mall concept, Brownie. There is absolutely NO reason to spend this kind of money in this economy. It is that mentality that has gotten us into this mess to begin with. Seems to me that some folks are trying to justify their jobs.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

On site is wise use of existing resources no question about it. The city owns the property.

Riverfront Plaza cannot provide the necessary space.

BigPrune 8 years, 1 month ago

Eighteen million dollars high and when you touch down You’ll find that it’s stranger than known Signs in the street that say where you’re going Are somewhere just being their own

Nowhere is there warmth to be found Among those afraid of losing their ground Rain gray town known for it’s sound In places small faces unbound

Round the squares huddled in storms Some laughing some just shapeless forms Sidewalk scenes and black limousines Some living some standing alone

-i figured the hippie contingent might enjoy.

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