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Library banking on potential property purchase

Monday, January 26, 2009 | 6:15 p.m. CST; updated 10:54 p.m. CST, Monday, January 26, 2009
On the shelves, between the stacks, and down every row of the Columbia Public Library rest thousands of books. The library is open to the public and is located at 100 W. Broadway.

COLUMBIA — Success has turned out to be a mixed blessing for the Columbia Public Library.

“As the usage of the building continues to grow, it’s becoming more and more crowded, so there is a greater and greater need for parking,” said Tom Richards, president of the Columbia Library District Board.  

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Finding enough room for parking is a familiar problem for the library. With two lots offering a total of 237 spaces being full more often than not, there has been some concern that parking will begin to spill out into the surrounding residential  areas.

First National Bank has provided the library with a potential solution. They offered the library board the opportunity to purchase land located on the corner of North Garth Avenue and Walnut Street, land the board hopes could eventually serve as an additional parking area. On Jan. 15, the Columbia Public Library Board of Trustees entered a closed session regarding this real estate possibility. Staff members are currently gathering information and recommendations into a report on the matter, and upon its completion, they will present their findings to the board.    

“It is something that makes sense for the library to acquire really for the future, and one of the possible uses would be to expand parking availability, which has become an issue,” Richards said.

The land, which currently holds two dilapidated homes, would be purchased with library funds.

This plan is still in the preliminary fact-finding stages, and the board is reviewing the situation to see if it is something they are interested in pursuing without a set deadline.

“The Columbia board discussed it, and if approved, the issue will move to the regional board,” said Melissa Carr, director of the Columbia Public Library. “It will be several months before anything is decided.”

The board will also have to keep in mind the current economic climate but does have money set aside for when opportunities such as this present themselves. As this land is being considered for future use, Richards said he believes it is possible the land will not be developed right away, allowing time for the economy to improve.  

Even if nothing comes of these informal negotiations, parking is an issue the board will continue to consider.

“The library is a permanent institution and will still be there 50 or 100 years down the road,” Richards said.

Because the number of people the library serves continues to increase yearly, according to 2007-2008 Service Report for the Daniel Boone Regional Library, this plan would be a proactive solution for the expected continued growth.  

Richards noted the bottom line is the situation resulted from success and there are worse things the library could be faced with.

“It is a problem we like to deal with,” he said.


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Comments

Chris Betts January 26, 2009 | 8:00 p.m.

The library REALLY needs to do something. Parking is totally inadequate! Parents of Grant elementary kids need to help by refraining from parking in the library lot. Don't inconvience others because of your kid! Your kid is NOT more important than any other. Don't park on garth, either! There's NO room.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr January 26, 2009 | 8:33 p.m.

Why not just build a parking garage on the now present two parking lots and connect it to the library itself.

Parking garages are the latest craze in Columbia didn't you know?

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand January 27, 2009 | 7:29 a.m.

How many people are going to just circle the block and main parking lot over and over because they think it's too far of a walk from the proposed lot?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 27, 2009 | 8:23 a.m.

There is presently a parking lot on the west side of Garth just north of the intersection between Broadway and Garth. I use it, and do not remember ever pulling into it when it was full. The traffic signals at Broadway and Garth have pedestrian-activated "walk" switches, making the crossing of Garth safe.

I am two months short of being 76 years old, and it doesn't bother me in the least to park in the fore mentioned lot and walk that short distance to the library. In fact, it probably does me good.

Are there no able-bodied citizens left in Columbia?

As for the need for parking garages, one of the four campuses of University of Missouri System has NO parking garages and everybody, including those who have disabilities, gets around rather well. Money that would have been spent on parking garages has been spent on classroom and laboratory expansion and renovation

Good grief, people!

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand January 27, 2009 | 8:41 a.m.

Exactly my point. If so many people aren't willing to walk across the street, why would the board assume that they'll walk from even farther?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr January 27, 2009 | 9:54 a.m.

Ellis Smith my friend I was just joking about the parking garage thing.

With the recent run in this city of the parking garage thing I thought it fit right in.

Sorry for my obvious use of dry humor my friend.

(Report Comment)

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