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NO to Library Expansion; YES to Alvamar Satellite
The Lawrence Public Library has plans for an $18 million expansion that will be voted on this Tuesday, November 2, 2010. A library expansion is long overdue. However, the trustees have chosen the wrong time and the wrong proposal to put forward.
Taxpayers, faced with lower income and increasing taxes, cannot afford to have the city spend money that taxpayers do not have. The estimated cost of $13,000,000 - or $650 per square foot - is between two and four times the national average for construction of a public library. Reed Construction Data has analyzed projects from across the country and provides a summary of average library construction costs.
Library officials are also asking for an additional $5,000,000 for a 5-Story, 145,000 Square Foot Parking Garage which could park over 400 cars. Oops, my bad - that is just what taxpayers should get for $5 million. Instead they are only building a two-story garage that will allow for 230 parking spaces. Once again, the cost is estimated way above the national average of $15,552 per space, which comes to $3.6 million.
That is correct, the proposed parking garage should cost $3.6 million, coincidentally the same amount that it cost to construct Eagle Bend Golf Course, which was completed in 1998.
Now, isn't this a nifty little segueway?
Ironically, Alvamar, Inc. has just announced plans to sell the Alvamar Country Club and Golf Courses. According to a Lawrence Journal-World story, "The offering includes both 18-hole golf courses; the private clubhouse, dining room and related operations; the public clubhouse, pro shop and snack bar; an indoor/outdoor private practice facility; cart storage; a maintenance building; and access to a private pool on the campus of Bishop Seabury Academy."
I propose that the City of Lawrence purchase the Alvamar Country Club as a joint (that means combined, not honk for hemp) venture between the Lawrence Public Library and Lawrence Parks and Recreation. This proposal would triple the City's golfing value by adding two outstanding courses for considerably less money per course than what it originally cost to open Eagle Bend. Parks and Recreation could use part of the land as a home for the proposed BMX Bike Track.
The current Country Club could be converted into an upscale satellite library. This library would sport one of the finest coffee shops and grills in the nation. There would be room for computers, a children's area, and possibly even room for some books. The satellite library would have plenty of parking and easy access. In fact, with access to the Seabury Acedemy swimming pool, it will have everything the downtown library has. All for only $6.5 million.
If you love children and literacy, but just cannot support a major tax increase that will fund a developer's over-priced proposal - vote NO on Tuesday. If you believe that there are less expensive solutions to improve our local library - vote NO on Tuesday. If you want to offer up a silly idea that is one-third the cost of the Library trustee's proposal, and would benefit more of the community, then write-in "Buy Alvamar." Just ask your election officials where you can "write-in" a candidate so as to not deface and void your election ballot.
Seriously, just get out and vote!
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