Push for new libraries begins

Capital campaign raising funds for three facilities

Posted

Castle Pines resident Lynette Kramer is a Douglas County Libraries fan. Her favorite branch is Lone Tree, not only because it’s close to Park Meadows mall and her kids’ schools, but because its staff knows how to find the offbeat music she favors.

“They always have it,” said Kramer, who visits the Lone Tree branch three or four times weekly despite her proximity to the Castle Pines branch. “I would use (Castle Pines) more if it had more selection.”

Much as she loves the Lone Tree branch, she sees its shortcomings.

“The parking’s not great,” she said. “The drop-off is horrible. The location’s good but they don’t have the land to expand.”

The library district sees that, too. It’s launched a multi-year capital campaign called “No Leaf Unturned” for construction of new libraries in the fast-growing communities of Lone Tree, Castle Pines and Parker.

Based on current and projected population growth, the Lone Tree and Parker libraries need to double in size, library director Jamie LaRue said. The Castle Pines branch, now tucked into a 1,500-square-foot rented space in a strip mall, ideally will more than triple in size to about 5,000 square feet.

The Town of Parker recently offered the district a site for a new library on town-owned land downtown.

In Lone Tree, the developers of RidgeGate had in 2008 earmarked a lot for the library, but its use hinged on passage of a proposed library district property tax increase. When the measure failed, “We were unable to hold that site,” RidgeGate development manager Darryl Jones said.

He didn’t rule out the idea of making a similar offer.

“Obviously, we have land,” Jones said. “But we haven’t really had any discussion with them. There’s the elephant in the room and the obvious connection between the two. There’s A and there’s C, so you can assume B is in the middle.”

“I guess they should put a plan together and decide what they need and approach us.”

With land already available, LaRue said the Parker branch is top priority, with groundbreaking planned in early to mid-2014. Nevertheless, RidgeGate’s words are welcome.

“For the short run, we are focused on Parker,” LaRue said. “In the long run, I’m glad to know they are interested in the discussion.”

After the back-to-back defeats of library tax measures in 2007 and 2008, the district’s capital campaign is an alternative way to construct the three branches. It will build on $20 million that Douglas County Libraries already has set aside.

“All those problems we were trying to fix in 2007 and 2008 are still there, and even more urgent,” LaRue said. “The library has saved very aggressively since 2008, tightening our belts through the recession. Most of those savings came from our self-check systems, and staff reductions through attrition. So we have about $20 million in the bank — a good start, but not enough for three libraries, unless we can get land donations from all those communities.”

With land in hand, the Parker branch could open as soon as late 2014. Construction of the other two branches likely won’t happen for three to five years, LaRue said.