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Council learns about possible new library

September 11, 2018

GERING — The Gering Library Board has been considering possible locations for a new public library since 2010 and has found a site that could work even though many hurdles are still ahead.

Prior to a presentation before the Gering City Council on Monday, Mayor Tony Kaufman said the discussion is only a first step in the process and was for information only.

After considering four possible sites, the one chosen by consulting architects is 3.6 acres south of Dome Rock Manor in Gering, north of K Street between 12th and 13th streets.

Local realtor and property owner Cinda Munoz was considering using the property to develop townhomes, but was willing to negotiate.

“I think the Dome Rock property would be a benefit to the entire community,” said architect Megan Hayward with Joseph R. Hewgley and Associates. “It’s an undeveloped site but has all the utility hookups in place, which allows for a lot of potential.”

Also assisting with the initial study was Humphries Poli Architects of Denver.

The large lot size allows for a recommended 18,000-square-foot, single-story library building, plus lots of surrounding greenspace for outdoor activities.

The cost for a new library was estimated to be in the range of $5.8 million.

Several options were considered for the library, including a renovation of the existing facility.

The current library, adjacent to city hall, was built in 1962 as a storm shelter. The concrete structure provides shelter from extreme weather, but makes remodeling both difficult and cost prohibitive.

The library building has few windows and lacks natural lighting. Many of the fixtures also need to be updated. Because it’s two stories, accessibility is a challenge. And at about 9,000 square feet of space, the library is half the size of recommended standards for modern libraries.

Suzanne Myers, chair of the Gering Library Board, said today’s libraries are more than places to check out books, they’re a community center for a number of special interest groups, from book clubs to Lego clubs, to providing wireless internet service.

The site of the former Lane Auction House, across the street from the current library, was also considered. However, lack of parking, required building setbacks in a residential neighborhood and the need for two floors made the site unacceptable.

Gering’s Legion Park was also considered, but any construction would remove existing greenspace. Also, local residents were in opposition.

A location in Oregon Trail Park was investigated, but the Gering Parks Board wanted to locate the library next to the swimming pool and share the parking lot.

Because the swimming pool was built with federal funds, any property taken for other development would have to be replaced by the city for recreation purposes at another location.

Hayward said the Dome Rock site is within walking distance of two schools as well as the downtown area, so it was the only site that meets all the needed criteria for a new public library.

No timeline for a possible new public library has been developed, as several things still need to happen before the project can move forward.

“We need to have some champions to start a foundation that can help with fundraising,” Myers said. “We also need to have backing from the city for both property purchase and sustainability of a new library. Our architects would like to start next year, but I don’t know how long it will take to get started.”

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