District eyeing new location among other improvements
Photo by: 
Kate Gienapp

The Gunnison County Library District is beginning a public input process to receive feedback from community members about what they would like to see in a new facility in Gunnison.

Starting on July 11, the library will be soliciting public feedback on the kinds of spaces community members prefer, and the kinds of programs they would like the library to support.

“We are also doing a location analysis so we are going to look at a variety of locations around the city,” said Executive Director Drew Brookhart. “We’re open to ideas from the public and also will try to drill down on what best possible location would be in Gunnison.”

In 1975, the public library moved to its present location in Gunnison, and a small addition was completed in 1983. Much of this was made possible through the vision and support of local philanthropist Ann Zugelder, for whom the library building is named.

However, as programs have expanded at the library, space has become cramped. In 2008, the public library split from the county and became its own district. Three years later, the district unsuccessfully floated two ballot questions related to expansion of facilities.

One would have approved the sale of bonds to construct a new, 18,000-square-foot library on the so-called Van Tuyl parcel near the northwest corner of the city, as well as a “children’s annex” in Crested Butte. The second measure would have generated operating and maintenance revenue for new library facilities.

Until now, the district’s plans for expanded facilities have remained on the back burner.

“We recognize as a district that we are at capacity in our current space, so we’re investigating options for how to move forward,” said Brookhart, adding that all options are on the table for future improvements.

Brookhart hopes to solicit ideas from the community on all aspects of the new facilities, including indoor and outdoor spaces available to the public as well as play areas, meeting space and programming they would like to see.

The public input process will kick-off on July 11 during Cattlemen's Days from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Fred Field Multipurpose Building in Gunnison. Additionally, over the course of the next year, the library district will have Anderson Hallas Architects of Golden, Colo., visit eight times to meet with the community as a part of outreach and feedback.

Earlier this year, Brookhart met with Gunnison City Council to discuss potential plans for the library districtowned Van Tuyl parcel and potential funding through Great Outdoors Colorado. The envisioned changes included an outdoor classroom facility as well as a trail network.

But for now, that project for expansion is on the back burner and subject to change following the public input process. City Council expressed support for collaboration in future projects but also expressed interest in keeping facilities in the downtown area for future generations.

 

(Kate Gienapp can be reached at 970.641.1414 or kate@gunnisontimes.com.)