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Archive for Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Public Library expansion proposal vetted at forum

A forum put on by the Voter Education Coalition allowed residents to voice their support and concerns about the proposed library expansion project.

October 12, 2010

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Question No. 1: Library expansion proposal text
Here is the library expansion proposal question as it appears on the ballot:

Shall the following be adopted?
Shall charter Ordinance No. 40, entitled 'A CHARTER ORDINANCE EXEMPTING THE CITY OF LAWRENCE, KANSAS FROM THE PROVISIONS OF K.S.A. 12-1736 TO K.S.A. 12-1738 AND PROVIDING SUBSTITUTE AND ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS ON THE SAME SUBJECT RELATING TO PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND FACILITIES AND THE ISSUANCE OF BONDS THEREFOR INCLUDING THE ISSUANCE OF NOT TO EXCEED $18,000,000 OF GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS FOR CONSTRUCTING, FURNISHING AND EQUIPPING OF AN EXPANSION AND RENOVATION OF THE EXISTING LIBRARY AND CONSTRUCTION OF PARKING FACILITIES; AND FURTHER REPEALING CHARTER ORDINANCE 32' take effect pursuant to Article 12, Section 5 of the Constitution of the State of Kansas?

Two storylines emerged Monday in the campaign for an expansion of the Lawrence Public Library.

In a televised forum leading up to the Nov. 2 election, voters were told about the need for an $18 million expansion of the current library in downtown Lawrence, but also were presented with an alternative idea of creating several smaller library locations in rented space that currently sits vacant.

“There are a lot of empty storefronts in town,” said Jim Mullins, a Lawrence resident and field director for Americans for Prosperity, which is officially opposing the library issue. “Put in the computers, put in the meeting room space. If it doesn’t work, we haven’t wasted a lot of money on bricks and mortar.”

In the forum — sponsored by the Voter Education Coalition — library board chair Mike Machell said the board decided not to move forward with a satellite proposal because it was concerned the existing library was inadequate to serve satellites.

“It certainly is easy to rent some retail space and put some computers in there, but I think what the community is asking for is a more full-service satellite,” Machell said. “And we’re not equipped to do that.”

The library board’s proposal would add 20,000 square feet to the existing library and renovate the existing space. The children’s area and meeting room space would both double in size. A parking garage for 250 cars — up from about 125 the library’s current lot accommodates — would be built on part of the existing parking lot.

But the project would require about a 2 mill property tax increase. Mullins, whose group generally opposes tax increases, said now is a bad time for an increase. But he said his group also believes the project is too downtown-centric, spends too much on parking, and doesn’t consider how libraries will change in the digital age.

“This is not the plan that should be brought to us,” Mullins said. “I think the voters need to turn this down and let the library bring us back a more modest proposal.”

Machell, though, said the library board spent considerable time studying alternatives and said the economy was also factored into the board’s decision.

“I agree we must spend wisely,” Machell said. “But we must remain open to prudent, long-term investments. Construction costs are cheaper than they have been, and the cost of borrowing money has never been lower.

“I think we’re being very responsible stewards.”

The library bond issue will be on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 2 months ago

"Mullins, whose group generally opposes tax increases,"

Generally? Opposing taxes (unless they benefit the Koch Brothers) is the only reason for their existence.

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 2 months ago

We have to stop the reflex action to raise taxes whenever some "can't live without it" idea pops up.

I think this is too much of a paradym shift in thinking for people who are used to thinking government money is there for the taking whenever you can grab some of it.

This is in fact an immoral point of view.

If this is a worthy project, there are other ways to promote it and to finance it. If you don't know how to do that, perhaps it is time to ask the people who do.

d_prowess 4 years, 2 months ago

It seems the library's plan focuses on just a few main issues. 1. more computer space, 2. more meeting space, 3. more children/young adult space. Given that, why wouldn't some satellite locations for just the computers and meetings be sufficient to solve those issues, while also then freeing up some room in the main library for additional children space? Obviously there would still be some computer space needed in the main library, but why does there have to be a bunch of meeting space there? All of that could basically be moved to other locations around town.
And really, I am not sure why we have decided that the Library needs to be responsible for offering free meeting space to any non-profit group that wants it. Why not some other city organization, like parks and rec? It makes just as much sense and they already have multiple facilities around town.

d_prowess 4 years, 2 months ago

And I am deliberately ignoring the parking issue because I don't think parking is an issue for the library. It is an issue for downtown and the pool. The city is just trying to throw the parking garage into the library proposal because it knows it will have a better chance of passing.

Mari Aubuchon 4 years, 2 months ago

I totally agree with both of your posts and I am glad to hear someone outside of my household raise these issues.

I also have to wonder at the use of limited library space for the Business Center.

I have read every bit of info that I could find about the proposal and I have not seen any reference to building the collection. Our library lacks books more than it lacks anything else. When there was still talk of a new library, this was an issue brought up repeatedly. This is not a problem that has been solved. In fact, I dare say it it worse now. Out of the last fifty books my husband and I have checked out, I would estimate a quarter of them were inter-library loans.

heygary 4 years, 2 months ago

There is a special kind of crazy in the water here in Lawrence! $18M in new taxes ... just bought a Kindle capable of storing 3,500 books for $131 bucks ... Libraries will be a novelty in a decade!

50YearResident 4 years, 2 months ago

I agree, Libraries are going out of style and probably in less than 10 years. It will be like buying a dead horse to pass this vote.

slowplay 4 years, 2 months ago

Although I'm not sold on the new initiative, I have to disagree. "Libraries will be a novelty in a decade!" was first heard around 1990 and then reiterated in 2000 and again and again. It will not happen in our lifetime. Digital media has been around for a long time and it hasn't changed the usage of the brick and mortar Library. Your kindle will have it's niche (as will my iPad) but there is nothing like opening a hard cover book, perusing through the stacks, glancing at magazines, attending readings with your children, etc. etc. You also didn't mention the cost for eBooks. $5 to $20. So in essence, to fill your kindle you'll need an extra $30,000. Cost from the library - Free.

My objection is to the added cost of the parking. It's not needed. I'm at the library 2-3 times per week and have never had a problem finding a parking spot.

d_prowess 4 years, 2 months ago

Try parking when the pool is open. I know, that is not the Library's fault, but I am sure that is a big factor for why the city is including parking in this proposal.

slowplay 4 years, 2 months ago

I have tried during pool hours. Sometime I had to go over by the Post Office or down Vermont a block but that was rare. I do not see the justification for the added expense and I also think that's the part that's going cause this to be voted down.

IronChefKS 4 years, 2 months ago

Wrong time (no raises for KU employees, 16% property tax increase forthcoming), wrong project. Passing this project at this time would be foolish.

7texdude 4 years, 2 months ago

Exactly. $18 million for the library? 20 years to pay for it? This could and should be better planned. And I love the library. This is too expensive. Roads? Schools? Those are two things I'd rather have a bond issue on.

slvrntrt 4 years, 2 months ago

There's really nothing wrong with the library right now. If people were waiting in line just to get in, I could see increasing taxes to do so, but they have a lot of space and its very nice as it is.

Why don't they just wait a few years until money has started to save up, then attempt the expansion?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

Let's offer taxpayers a choice. Why? Because maintaining a valuable existing resource is fiscally responsible.

Choices:

A. City/County tax revenue combined using 10% annually = 2,264,567. 20 for 10 years = project paid off with existing sales tax revenue( from existing sales tax passed in 1995)

B.City sales tax only using 10% annually of city tax revenue only = $1,403,630.10 for 15 years with existing sales tax revenue (from existing sales tax passed in 1995)

C. personal property tax increase ….. my last but least desirable choice.

Commissioner Cromwell,

I believe you and the other city commissioners should provide an option B plan for the financing.

That would be allowing a portion of the 1995 1 cent sales tax money to be used to finance this expansion that is absolutely necessary.

Let's introduce a fiscally responsible taxpayer friendly proposal. Options the city can live with that include no increase in taxes. Hats off to this concept.

The one cent sales tax that was approved in 1995 can generate up to $14,036,301 as of 2009. Obviously more in better years

The city portion of the county 1% sales tax can generate up $8,609,331 as of 2009 obviously more in better years.

The two together = $22,645,672 again obviously more in better years. So I say let’s use a portion of this to finance our library reconstruction. Let’s use 10% of this tax dollar revenue annually.

Choice: A. City/County tax revenue combined using 10% annually = 2,264,567. 20 for 10 years = project paid off with existing sales tax revenue

B.City sales tax only using 10% annually of city tax revenue only = $1,403,630.10 for 15 years with existing sales tax revenue

C. personal property tax increase ….. my last but least desirable choice.

Let the voters decide. The tax dollars after all belong to we the tax paying citizen. City Hall would need to adjust it's spending accordingly with regard to future park and rec projects. I think taxpayers could live with that.

All choices provides financing for the expansion. A win win solution.

whats_going_on 4 years, 2 months ago

why are they attempting to do this when people are seriously hurting from the recession? Good grief. I'm all for expansions and libraries and such, but this seems a BIT excessive. I can't remember what the pictures looked like of the proposal, but I think it was going to be really fancy?

I may vote for some small upgrades, maybe new carpet, new chairs, new computers, whatever. But...the whole thing? One of the things I liked about the library when I was younger was that old smell it has...that book smell.

monkeyhawk 4 years, 2 months ago

While many other cities realize that libraries are going to way of Blockbuster, the oh-so-enlightened hamlet of Lawrence wants YOU to buy them a big, new shiny version of the old one. Of course, many get it that with this bunch it's not about reading, satellites, and the children, etc. It is all about spiffing up downtown. Don't you ever get sick of the lies? Rarely does the money YOU voted to spend get to the so-called intended target (how 'bout them streets?)

The Salinas, California public library, home to the archives of Nobel Prize winning writer and resident John Steinbeck, will close its doors at the end of 2005, unless private donors soon contribute $3.2 million to replace funds taken by state government from city revenues.

Public libraries from Seattle, Denver and Honolulu to cities in California, Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Michigan and beyond, have suffered branch closures, staff terminations and curtailment of services and hours due to federal and state budget decisions. http://usliberals.about.com/od/education/a/PublicLibraries.htm

The announcement Tuesday by the Jersey City Free Public Library that three branches are closing by the end of the year is being met with resistance. http://www.hudsonreporter.com/pages/full_stories_home/push?article--Councilman+and+public+fight+to+save+closing+libraries-%20&id=9708404&instance=up_to_the_minute_lead_story_left_column

The Boston Public Library is considering closing up to 10 of its neighborhood branches and laying off one-quarter of its staff, cuts that would irrevocably alter America’s oldest municipally funded library system. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/02/18/library_may_cut_10_of_its_branches/

Bob Forer 4 years, 2 months ago

The library expansion will mostly benefit:

1) The homeless, who love to hangout, especially in inclement weather. 2) The multi-millionaires who own and operate the Eldridge, who are planning an expansion despite the fact that close parking is so rare that they have to offer valet parking to not piss off their wealthy clientle.
3) The multi-millionaire developers (The Fritzel's, et al. who stand to pocket a nice profit on the project.
4) The library staff, who get to work in new er digs, and will now have a "bicycle room" to park their transportation. (What's wrong with investing in a Kryptonite lock. There are already bicycle racks located under cover of the library overhang).

If we were all wealthy, and living in better economic times, the project might be tolerable. But right now, no way, no how. I am voting no.

simone 4 years, 2 months ago

West Lawrence is always getting the short end of the stick! Only kidding, but seriously, I am a proud public library lover, who would fully support paying additional taxes to improve our library system.....however, as Lawrence seems to be growing west, a satellite branch on the west side of town would be nice. As many visitors of the Library here are children (and parents) and the downtown area isn't exactly popping with kiddos....

jafs 4 years, 2 months ago

The idea of a small, specific function satellite is a good idea, one I've been proposing for years, and I'm glad to see someone else proposing it.

It would be much cheaper, and more efficient, and serve the purpose of freeing up space and parking space at the current library location.

My best idea so far - meeting space and reference section. That would require a minimal investment, no checkout capacity, and no new employees - simply move the ones working at the current reference section to the new location. They could certainly take reservations for meeting spaces as well.

jafs 4 years, 2 months ago

The idea of a small, specific function satellite is a good idea, one I've been proposing for years, and I'm glad to see someone else proposing it.

It would be much cheaper, and more efficient, and serve the purpose of freeing up space and parking space at the current library location.

My best idea so far - meeting space and reference section. That would require a minimal investment, no checkout capacity, and no new employees - simply move the ones working at the current reference section to the new location. They could certainly take reservations for meeting spaces as well.

jafs 4 years, 2 months ago

The idea of a small, specific function satellite is a good idea, one I've been proposing for years, and I'm glad to see someone else proposing it.

It would be much cheaper, and more efficient, and serve the purpose of freeing up space and parking space at the current library location.

My best idea so far - meeting space and reference section. That would require a minimal investment, no checkout capacity, and no new employees - simply move the ones working at the current reference section to the new location. They could certainly take reservations for meeting spaces as well.

jafs 4 years, 2 months ago

The idea of a small, specific function satellite is a good idea, one I've been proposing for years, and I'm glad to see someone else proposing it.

It would be much cheaper, and more efficient, and serve the purpose of freeing up space and parking space at the current library location.

My best idea so far - meeting space and reference section. That would require a minimal investment, no checkout capacity, and no new employees - simply move the ones working at the current reference section to the new location. They could certainly take reservations for meeting spaces as well.

ToriFreak13 4 years, 2 months ago

As mentioned, the parking issue is a joke. I always find a spot. The library itself (where the books are) is a ghost town. The internet stations during the busiest time a 40 minute wait. So what is the need...more computers for kids skipping school or homeless to play Worlds of Warcraft? Any other progressive town with growth like ours would have a satellite before ever spending $18 million on renovating an existing building. I don't believe we need a satellite either considering the schools all have their own libraries and the public library serves its purpose and seems to be comfortable with its current size and the services it provides. More long term residents need to stand up to this proposal as I am sure they will when the vote comes. It's a shame that as a college town, some use that fact to con 4000+ new residents into falling for their propaganda. Starting their campaign for this 2 years in advance gives them a shot at even more fresh minds to brainwash.

Bob Forer 4 years, 2 months ago

Heck, we could afford two satellites for less money than the new proposal--one on the west side to serve the middle-class population and one on the east central side to serve the less affluent. Both would have a relatively small selection of newer release books and CD's for general circulation. Both would have computer terminals, with the East side one having more to accommodate the more moderately incomed folks who can't afford a computer. I doubt many West Side folks are without computers.

Both would have meeting rooms, and a decent children's section. Both would provide one day service to check out books from the central collection and KU libraries. It the computer age, it would not be difficult to have terminals at the satellites connected on-line to the central library and KU libraries. Each morning librarians at each library would collect the previous days orders and have them available for pickup by a runner, who would make the rounds and then distribute them to the two satellites. Hey, while we are talking, why not make the KU collection available to patrons at the central library as well. Place your order before closing at your neightbor library and pick it up the next day after 3:00 p.m. Pretty neat, eh? .
Right now, KU allows anyone to check out books as long as they are a student or purchase a library card for a minimal fee.

Why this doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell?

1) There's no profit in it for the millionaire developers. 2) The lack of an amiable, working relationship between town and gown leaders. Examples: 1) Why did it take so long to coordinate City and Univesity bus systems. 2) KU Athletics originally said &%^$# to the city regarding a parade for the National Champion basketball team.

The upside, which the powers that be will scoff at:

1) Convenience, convenience, convenience.

2) Cheaper, cheaper, a lot cheaper.

3) Will increase the number of accessible volumes exponentially.

4) Will make it easier for the disadvantaged to enter the computer age, and become computer literate.

.5) Decreased travel to the out-of-way downtown library in favor of local satellites is environmentally friendly--less fuel consumption and less hydrocarbons.

6) Will effectively open up the KU libraries (which are now, technically available but probably rarely used) to non-KU affiliated folks who are understandably unwilling to access the KU collection because of the utter lack of convenient parking.

7) And the list of benefits goes on.

Chancellor Gray, if you read this, and are truly committed to educating the public and spending public monies in an efficient manner, then you'll run with this idea. Don't worry, you can take all the credit. i won't tell a soul that the idea didn't originate with you. But frankly, i see you as another garden-variety do-nothing administrator--not an educator--like the handful KU has has suffered through the years.

Bob Forer 4 years, 2 months ago

And to the sanctimonious pro-library self-described "I support education and literacy" crowd: Grow some balls so you can alight from your high horse, and instead of putting up a yard sign which was probably bought and paid for by greedy millionaires, help forumulate a better and cheaper library plan. I dare you.

d_prowess 4 years, 2 months ago

I agree with many here and wish the other options were being considered again, but does anyone honestly think this thing isn't going to pass?

Clark Coan 4 years, 2 months ago

Wrong building, wrong time, but it will pass with 60% of the vote

50YearResident 4 years, 2 months ago

The above comments are exactly why this is going to a vote. So the community as a whole can decide once and for all weather to build a new Library or not. Instead of a few Commissioners shoving it down our throats, like it or not. All that needs to be done here to end the cortroversy is for all of us to get out and "Vote NO"

d_prowess 4 years, 2 months ago

I couldn't disagree with your comment more. I believe the community as a whole votes for City Commissioners so that they have the responsibility to fully research things like this, weigh it against the city's overall fiscal situation, compare it to other possible options, and end up making the most informed decision possible.
In this case, the Commissioners are releasing themselves from this responsibility under the false assumption that the voting public will understand everything about this issue and make the decision they feel is correct. However, everyone here knows that the vast majority of voters will not educate themselves about this issue and instead vote with what they want to believe is right. And if most people are asked if a Library expansion is a good thing, they will say yes. And that is exactly why this issue will pass. It is not from a fully informed voting public, but from a public that just wants to do what they feel sounds right and a city commission that won't do their job.

conservative 4 years, 2 months ago

The reason this will pass is because they are heavily lobbying the ku students to get out and vote for it. The students are always the targets for these type of controvertial votes. They are easy to persuade that they are doing something to better the city they are living in but since they won't be staying they don't worry too much about increasing the mill levy rate.

WHY 4 years, 2 months ago

Everyone will have to turn out for this NO VOTE. Consider your time voting as earning $1000 an hour. Just calculate the cost of this over 20 years, and the short amount of time it will take you to grab a few friends, vote no, and then go the great public library we already have and check out your favorite book and video.

Steve Jacob 4 years, 2 months ago

I will be voting no. I have no idea what the result will be. It's not like the KU students and Democrats are rushing to the polls like 2008.

irvan moore 4 years, 2 months ago

the commissioners want a new parking garage for downtown nobody will vote to pay for it so they put it with the library proposal. save and grow downtown at any cost. (that would be to us property owners) why can't downtown Lawrence pay for their own parking?

monkeyhawk 4 years, 2 months ago

How does it feel to absolutely no control over your own pocket? The short-termers come to town and dictate what the taxpayers will be funding for the next decade or two. Anyone who owns property in a college town is a fool. Especially in a place like Lawrence where previous commissions killed the economy long before it really died.

optimist 4 years, 2 months ago

Don't they realize we're in a recession? Is this really a priority when drastic cuts are being made at all levels of government? Maybe they should have considered a $10 mil library previously instead of $30-40 mil.

LibraryLover 4 years, 2 months ago

If the advocacy group is lobbying KU students so heavily, why aren't there Vote Yes signs at all the dorms? Or in front of student occupied rentals near campus? Instead, when I drove from the west side of town out to the pumpkin patch this weekend, I saw Vote Yes signs at businesses of all types, at houses on the west side, downtown, and throughout east Lawrence. These houses were McMansions, fixer uppers, and very modest single family houses with everything from tricycles out front to Grandma and Grandad sitting on the porch . KU students might be planning to vote yes, but so are LOTS of other folks who understand the value of this community resource as well.

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