Letters to the Editor

Library support

October 15, 2010

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To the editor:

As a strong supporter for the library and the proposed ballot question to renovate its 38-year-old building, I am saddened by those who say they too support the library but that they’re going to vote no and wait for some future proposal that would include branches or be “more moderate.” If you support the library, you should put an “X” by “yes” when voting this fall.

Waiting for what is “perfect” for you is an exercise guaranteed to disappoint. Each person (especially here in Lawrence) defines “perfect” differently. The reason the library is one of the most utilized public services is that so many different people find so many different uses that meet so many different and changing needs.

It may make sense to have branches at some point but before that can happen, the main building needs to be renovated and expanded to provide the central services and facilities needed to run a satellite operation. Also, are we going to provide the additional annual operating funds necessary to staff branches? Have you considered how politically impossible it would be to only open one branch? Would it be on the west side, the east, the south? That should be a fun City Commission meeting.

In truth, a library supporter supports the current proposal because it is the best and most realistic option that will come along for many years to make our beloved library, if not perfect, at least a whole lot better.

Comments

Benjamin Roberts 4 years, 6 months ago

Mr. Morgan has once again demonstrated that he has a tin ear when it comes to public opinion. Although some have argued for branch libraries, that is not the argument against the current expansion. The current proposal has found two reasons for opposition. First, is the timing. The economy (read as tax payers) simply cannot afford any additional expenditures by government. Second, the proposed expansion has a price tag that is between two and four times the average of other public library costs per square foot. Simply put, $18 million is too much money for a 20,000 square foot add-on. Of course, Mr. Morgan had no problem spending $22,763 per acre for farm land ($1.73 million) just in case the school district might want to build a school of some kind at some time in the future. He also voted yea for two multimillion dollar football fields.

You have to admire Scott - he has never seen a multimillion dollar project that he did not support - and for which he wasn't willing to spend other people's money.

Moderateguy 4 years, 6 months ago

Absolutely spot on.. My family will be voting "no." Death by a thousand cuts.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

This project will accomplish the following goals:

Goal 1: Responsible re-use of the current facility. The library would remain in its current location, and would continue to serve as an anchor and magnet for downtown Lawrence.

Goal 2: Meeting the demands of the community. The expansion would add between 15,000 and 20,000 square feet to the current building, and would focus on three primary goals: (1) doubling the size of our overcrowded children’s room; (2) adding community meeting room space in response to extraordinary demand; and (3) providing more reading and computer areas.

Goal 3: Improved customer service. The project would renovate existing library spaces to upgrade their efficiency, functionality and appearance. Library support spaces would be made more functional through the implementation of new technology such as RFID materials handling systems.

Goal 4: Savings through energy efficiency. Even with the addition of 15,000 to 20,000 square feet to the existing building, the newly-renovated library facility would be redesigned to use less energy than the current facility does, through the application of sustainable / green strategies.

Goal 5: Downtown Parking Solution. The project would also feature a modest structured parking solution and additional angled parking on 7th and Vermont streets to increase parking from 178 spaces to approximately 230 spaces. The additional parking would not only help the library, but also would serve the outdoor pool and senior center.

It is estimated that the total project cost for the expansion, renovation and parking enhancements, as well as all related costs including technology, furnishings and furniture, would not exceed $18 million, with architectural and construction costs supported through a bond issue. This debt issue expense, estimated at approximately 1.5 mills, would sunset when the bond is repaid.

no_thanks 4 years, 6 months ago

  1. It is a misuse of financial resources to support a rapidly eroding public service. And, the library is hardly an anchor for downtown. 2.The library meets the demand of some in the community, similar to how another Recreation Center meet the demand for some in the community. Neither the rec center or the library overhaul is sorely needed, but they would be nice to have in the community. Raising taxes to support such an investment at this time is simply wrong.
  2. Improved customer service. I have a hard time understanding how a $3.5MM operating budget doesn't provide enough resources to ensure superior customer service. Oh wait, the money is guaranteed to the library whether they perform good customer service or not, so where is the incentive to change.
  3. It may be a more energy efficient building, but using less btu's than the existing facility isn't going to happen. 5.I agree with your point on the parking garage.

repaste 4 years, 6 months ago

will it be built by elderidge owners, for valet parking?

repaste 4 years, 6 months ago

does anyone know why the old library(Carnegie), has a new garage?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

I encourage Scott Morgan, Mayor Amyx and Vice Mayor Cromwell to consider the following:

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.

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

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.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

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jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

An annex, specifically designed to house meeting space and reference materials, would be extremely inexpensive, compared with this proposal.

If the city, for example, simply negotiated to rent some space in the Tanger mall, and moved those functions there, it would free up space in the current location and parking as well.

The annex would not need check-out capacity or extra staff - the current staff of the reference section would be adequate.

That location would be close enough to the current one that it would be a minor inconvenience if one needed to go to both locations, and given the functions it would house, it would be likely that many people would not generally need to do so.

If you're just going to a meeting, for example, you would just go to the annex. Conversely, those who are going to pick up books and audio-video materials, for both children and adults, would just go to the main location.

gatekeeper 4 years, 6 months ago

Great idea!!!! Too bad it will fall on deaf ears.

Dan Simons 4 years, 6 months ago

Sorry for a re-post, I'm perfectly willing to accept a no/defeat, but this is a better idea and they have not shown their homework, The board simply says believe us this is best.

First, let me acknowledge that I am part owner of the Riverfront mall property, adjacent property and an officer with the World Company. Regardless of any personal benefit, I believe there are alternatives to the $18 million library expansion plan that is being presented for a public vote. I believe the following scenario deserves consideration. These numbers were sent on June 18th to library board members and city commission members. I never heard one word back. $1.7 million: Buy Abe and Jakes. 20,000 square feet, large public entertaining, reading, meeting, and coffee shop space on the river, on city land. $4.5 million: Buy the west half of the Riverfront Plaza. Three levels, 70,000 square feet, 230 cat-5 Ethernet wired computer stations, 500 parking stalls, all on city land. $5 million: Renovate the 40,000 square feet on floors one and two at $125/square foot. For $11 million, Lawrence could have a beautiful 90,000-square-foot library, on the river, with a 500-stall existing parking structure, all on city-owned land and enhancing the city’s relationship to the river. And the community library still would be downtown. All work could be done with no interruption to current library operations. The city then could sell the existing library space to help finance the project. Who knows? Possibly a downtown grocery might materialize. I’ve been told an excuse for not considering this is that the Plaza is not class A property. Why would the city government need class A property in these times? I’ve heard some people don’t think the facility can structurally support the weight of stacks of books. This is untrue; we have provided engineering studies that show it can. This space also offers the possibility for future expansion. For about $7 million (at $200 a square foot), a 35,000-square-foot glassed indoor space could be created on the Plaza roof overlooking the river. This idea and other alternatives deserve to be publicly discussed.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 6 months ago

An interesting idea, but is Abe and Jake's for sale?

pizzapete 4 years, 6 months ago

Best idea I've heard for the expansion of the library so far.

Steve Clark 4 years, 6 months ago

Why kill the library by locating it in a building that has been unsuccessful in all its endeavors? Libraries need to be accessible and need to reach people in much the same way retail establishments need to. The Riverfront mall has demonstrated, over many years, that it is a failure in providing the kind of environment that draws traffic, public or private. Cheap is not a good reason to proceed down a path of failure.

David Roberts 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm not sure that retail establishments (who advertise in an attempt to draw customers to their location) are an appropriate comparison to the library. The library has--in the knowledge contained within--its own draw.

The Riverfront location is intriguing because it has parking, something that the current proposal seeks to accomplish in a very costly manner. If Merrill's numbers are correct, we would pay over 3 million dollars to build a parking garage that will increase parking capacity by 52 spaces (230-178). That amounts to nearly $60,000 for each additional parking space. Also, I believe it has been suggested that those spaces would still be metered. VERY expensive vs. a building with ample existing parking.

I for one am glad that Mr. Simons is willing to speak up for an alternative that should at least receive some consideration.

mr_right_wing 4 years, 6 months ago

Too late. I did my advance voting and voted NO.

ferrislives 4 years, 6 months ago

Mr. Morgan,

If I'm struggling to pay my monthly mortgage and utility bills, you won't find me building another house right now because the building costs are low and I need extra space. You'll see me hunkering down until I'm not struggling to pay those bills anymore, and I'll then weigh my options in a responsible fashion so that I'm not struggling in the future. I hope that you understand my analogy, and understand why me and several others will vote NO on the library issue.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

The City Commission could also vote to dedicate 10% of the 1995 sales tax revenue source to the library rehab project. This would solve the financing issue without increasing taxes.

Once the rehab is done the city could then dedicate that same 10% of the 1995 sales tax revenue to support the library and perhaps purchase a new large bookmobile to travel about the city. A dedicated source of revenue would be fiscally prudent.

As far as the Simons proposal is concerned taxpayers need to know how much it would cost to heat and the cool that operation. Energy efficiency is a must.

What about the long term impacts of flood water?

Taxpayers need real numbers on the cost of re-design.

Maybe not the worst idea although Mr. Simons might expect his proposal will appear as a bailout.

How much space does the city own or lease as we speak?

As with the current location I fully support making use of existing resources.

Armored_One 4 years, 6 months ago

merrill, just a couple of things to consider. I suppose you might have already, but since I don't read minds, I have to ask, instead.

Moving the library to Riverfront would not be all that bad of an idea. First and foremost, it would eat up one of the massive bars in this city. Honestly, Girls Gone Wild film there. Is that what you want downtown?

Second, the flat out cost. Why spend 18 mill on the current library building when the proposal put forth by Dolph is not only cheaper, but could also result in more usable square footage? Only way to truly expand the library is up, unless you plan on consuming the area they normally use for the book sale as building space instead.

As to your power consumption, Bower-Sox is right next door and there is a BIG river there. Not really a giant leap there.

No need for a computer systems overhaul installation, either.

Dolph's idea deserves some serious thought. One of the better ideas to come out of Lawrence in a while, truth be told. Granted, Dolph might be wanting to unload some property, but he still has the truth of it. Heck, the parking garage alone would be mroe than enough reason to consider it.

JustNoticed 4 years, 6 months ago

That must be Dan Simons posting above, not Dolph. Dolph still uses a typewriter - analog word processor. And I'm not being snarky, it's just a fact.

Armored_One 4 years, 6 months ago

As to the the current library building...

I know this will be radical in this city, but bear with me...

If, and that is a big if, the library decides that Dolph has a better idea than the one currently on the table, a beyond excellent use of the building, without massive modification, would be to turn it into a youth center.

This is jack and squat left in this city for high school kids to go do.

Putt putt... gone. Batting cages... gone Skating rink... gone Movie theater... far side of town, so is only a limited option.

I know of dozens of high school and middle school kids that hang out downtown, simply because they have less than nothing to do in terms of entertainment.

Yeah, there will be some bad apples that show up once in a while, but heck, you get that with any given crowd.

Something along the lines of Dolph's idea coupled with something along the lines of my idea for the current library building would get my vote, and gladly. Just throwing money at a building that is 30+ years old with a parking garage which is only going to benefit the pool and library directly, is NOT the answer...

BigPrune 4 years, 6 months ago

If you enter any of our new area schools, you will see they spared no expense. The finest of materials available was used for their construction, outfitted with the best fixtures and equipment money can buy. You will see flat screen televisions adorning the hall ways though most will be off. Yes, Mr. Morgan, sure you support this new library. It stands to reason. Tax and spend like it's going out of style is the modus operandi of our local leaders.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 6 months ago

"The finest of materials available was used for their construction, outfitted with the best fixtures and equipment money can buy."

I take it that you'd have preferred that they use the cheapest material (and presumably labor) available, thus ensuring high maintenance costs and a shorter service life.

somebodynew 4 years, 6 months ago

Beyond the reaons already stated, I have another problem. During the "chat" the other day the library people could not (or would not) answer a question about how much room would be used for new books/reference material. They seemed to know how much meeting space and parking space would be created, but seemed to balk and how many new "books" all this money might provide. Personally, I think dsimons has some good ideas that need to be studied more.

The one thing Mr. Morgan is correct about is that in this community there will be no "perfect" project that suits everybody. But that does NOT mean you should automatically vote for ANYTHING put out there, just because it is there. I know he doesn't realize it, but these are real dollars and cents we are talking about.

somedude20 4 years, 6 months ago

No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no wrong time for the wrong project. libraries are an out of date idea. your computer has about 10,000,000,000,000 libraries in it and does not cost $18 million

parrothead8 4 years, 6 months ago

I think a great library is a huge asset to a community, but not when its expense is a detriment to that community. The people who want it should work to raise private funds for this "necessary" $18,000,000 expansion to the library. My vote will be cast as NO.

When the roads around here aren't the worst roads of any of the eight places I've lived in the last decade, I'll change my vote to YES.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

There was a half cent sales tax passed to deal with roads recently....

David Roberts 4 years, 6 months ago

Scott,

I appreciate the fact that you seem to value the tools for learning and the value that the public library brings to the community. I think you are wrong, however, in your support of this proposal. Would you kindly respond to the following and perhaps I will rethink my position?

You say "It may make sense to have branches at some point but before that can happen, the main building needs to be renovated and expanded to provide the central services and facilities needed to run a satellite operation."

Yet, the proposals I've seen discussed circumvent this entirely by suggesting using satellite facilities for non-circulating materials, computers, or meeting space. How will uses such as those I've listed place demands on the central library staff or resources?

You say, "Also, are we going to provide the additional annual operating funds necessary to staff branches?"

Yet, that staffing and/or funding is needed with the proposal you support anyway. I suggest that offsite meeting space shouldn't require extensive staffing, would burden the central branch very little, and would free up space in the central branch for other uses.

You say, "Have you considered how politically impossible it would be to only open one branch? Would it be on the west side, the east, the south?"

Truly, I don't care. Being uncomfortable with the realities of politics is no reason to spend $18 million dollars on a proposal such as this.

You say, "In truth, a library supporter supports the current proposal because it is the best and most realistic option that will come along for many years to make our beloved library, if not perfect, at least a whole lot better. "

No, a library supporter looks for alternative plans which better fit the needs of the community without unnecessary spending. This proposal is not the best--or the most realistic--option on this page, let alone among all of the possibilities that apparently were never considered.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

I intend to support the current library proposal. That being said after the vote counts are in Lawrence gets an idea of how important a city library is to a community which in my mind is without question.

What I do not understand is why Mr. Simons did not reveal his proposal at the last two city commission meetings in an effort to gain more exposure.

No matter what happens in this current vote obviously I believe voters should press the city commission to adopt this financing for the long term vitality of our library system:

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

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

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.

Parks and Rec still would receive 90% of this tax dollar source. I say let's spend it more wisely and fund two city needs instead of one.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

The City Commission should vote to dedicate 10% of the 1995 sales tax revenue source to the library rehab project. This would solve the financing issue without increasing taxes. Taxpayers could demand this change.

Once the rehab is done the city should then dedicate that same 10% of the 1995 sales tax revenue to support the library and perhaps purchase a new large bookmobile to travel about the city. A dedicated source of revenue would be fiscally prudent. Yes this would a smart long term decision.

As far as the Simons proposal is concerned taxpayers need to know how much it would cost to heat and the cool that operation. Energy efficiency is a must.

What about the long term impacts of flood water? This is not a risk taxpayers should assume without a ton of information.

Taxpayers need real numbers on the cost of re-design. Mr.Simons put forth some numbers however those numbers may not be accurate. Real numbers come once his idea is studied more closely.

The bottom line is Lawrence needs an updated library and more importantly Lawrence needs to maintain these existing resources instead of pretending a library is invincible.

Has Mr. Simons thought of the former shopping area being transformed into the Simons World Company Convention Center? Leasing the space for such? Without taxpayer assistance?

mr_right_wing 4 years, 6 months ago

Lawrence Logic:

Turn down a new source of sales tax (Lowe's).

Increase sales tax for a non-essential 'luxury' during a serious recession with substantial unemployment.

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