Patrons: Cut back on building size
The people are speaking. They're speaking, and Basehor Community Library officials are listening.
In a bid to understand why the majority of voters within its 50-square-mile district last year rejected a $3.79 million bond issue for a new library on 158th Street in Basehor, library officials mailed a survey to 2,337 residents. Those receiving surveys included all who voted on the April 2004 ballot as well as a random sampling of those who did not.
About 28 percent, or 655 residents, responded to the survey, which was conducted last October. And since then, officials have been compiling and analyzing the information, preparing it to present to the public. Later this month, all library patrons will receive a mailing detailing the survey responses.
This week, library director Carla Kaiser unveiled those responses by sharing them with The Sentinel. Bottom line: The responses closely resemble what Kaiser and members of the Basehor Community Library Board of Trustees expected they would hear from voters.
"I don't think they were very surprising," Kaiser said. "It confirmed some of the things we heard. I think it was definitely more of a confirmation of what we thought people were feeling."
And what were they feeling? The survey says:
¢ On price of the bond issue and tax increase: 323 of those responding felt the price of the bond issue and the tax increase was too high; 162 residents indicated the price of the bond issue was acceptable, but should have been spread across a longer period of time to lessen the tax burden; and 136 residents responded that the price of the bond and the tax increase was acceptable.
¢ On the size of the proposed 21,000-square-foot building: 239 residents felt it was adequate for the community; 188 indicated it was adequate, but should be completed in phases; and 188 responded the proposed library was too large.
¢ On the location of the proposed facility: 254 residents felt the site was convenient and accessible to all district residents; 184 indicated the location could be better, "but is acceptable since no funds would be needed to purchase land"; and 169 responded the library should remain near its current downtown location.
In addition, some respondents questioned whether the library could expand to a vacant building to the south of the existing library, into a building that formerly housed Doc and Bruties Pizza.
Library officials asked their architectural consultant, Hans J. Fischer, to evaluate the space for a potential library. His analysis report said: the site lacks adequate parking and room for expansion; costs would total at least $1.67 million; and the building would have only 3,640 square feet available for library use.
Also, the building's upstairs cannot sustain the weight requirement for many types of library materials without reinforcement and the building has no basement available for a storm shelter.
Based on Fischer's report, the library board decided not to pursue the option. Planning and focus will continue on a new building on 158th Street.
Kaiser said the library board tentatively has targeted February 2006 for another vote, this time on a scaled-down version of a bond issue.
"The building will be smaller, which will cost less, and payments will be taken out for a longer period of time," she said.
In April 2004, 799 residents voted against the library bond issue, while 584 voted in favor. That bond issue would have increased property taxes by $89.58 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.