Archive for Thursday, March 2, 2006

Library staff turns focus to new building design

March 2, 2006

Though still buzzing from the previous night's bond issue victory, officials from the Basehor Community Library immediately shifted gears Wednesday morning and began focusing on constructing a new building.

"Now the exciting time starts," library director Carla Kaiser said. "From here, we get down to the nitty-gritty of what goes into that library.

"We've got some work to do before we get anywhere."

On Tuesday, voters authorized the library to raise property taxes by 0.787 mills to fund a new building on 158th Street, between Parallel Road and U.S. Highway 24-40. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

The $2.99 million will pay for the facility's construction, site preparation, furniture, fixtures and professional fees.

The library will break ground on the new building in five or six months, Kaiser said. Between now and then, the library's architectural firm, GLPM Architects Inc., Lawrence, will begin working on a design for the 13,046-square-foot building.

The firm, established in 1954, has a resume of projects that includes the Lawrence Arts Center, Girard Public Library addition and Pittsburg Public Library addition and renovation.

Kaiser said construction of the new library would take 18 to 24 months. She added that librarians have no problem being patient: They've waited for four years to pass a ballot for new construction.

Tuesday's successful vote, which passed by an overwhelming 848-to-434 margin, comes nearly four years after local residents Ray and Anne Breuer donated the five acres of land to the library -- and nearly two years after voters resoundingly rejected a $3.79 million question.

The 2004 bond issue was defeated by more than 200 votes and failed in every precinct.

What made the difference this time around?

Kaiser said she believed the library's efforts to include patrons in plans paid off on Tuesday.

"I think the first time around, what we presented was everything we learned that was the best plan. ... It was based on everything we could put together," she said.

On the second go around, librarians gauged public feedback by polling the community. And based on the public's opinions, the library pared down the size of the building and its price.

"I think the community had more voice in this proposal," Kaiser said. "We had people from all segments of the community who willingly and vocally supported (the bond issue) in a way we didn't hear before."

Members of organizations such as the Basehor Chamber of Commerce, Veteran's of Foreign Wars post, Historical Society and several elected officials publicly supported the bond issue. As late as Tuesday afternoon, members of those organizations were rallying area residents to make it to the polls.

The blueprint for the library's successful bond issue -- polling the public and involving patrons in the decision-making process -- resembles that of the playbook used by the Basehor-Linwood school district in crafting their last two proposals for new construction.

Like the library, the school district was defeated in a previous bond issue, in November 2005, and because of pressing concerns reshaped another ballot question. In November, they will ask voters to approve $26.7 million for new schools.

Wednesday morning, school Superintendent Jill Hackett said she was pleased to learn that the library's bond issue passed. But she said she was unsure whether many comparisons could be drawn between the two proposals because the difference in size of the two bond issues -- $3 million vs. nearly $27 million.

At best, the library's success Tuesday night "could be a sign that our community understands that the population is growing and has obvious needs," Hackett said.

"I would certainly hope (that's the case)," she said. "I'm optimistic."

"I would say I'm pleased for them and for the community. I congratulate them."

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