Dozens of Lyons area residents showed up at Town Hall last Thursday evening, August 29 to voice their feelings about their desire for an upgrade to the old Depot Library, or a new facility entirely. It was a historic meeting with both the Boulder and Larimer County Commissions in attendance to listen to the residents. Commissioners Lew Gaiter II, Steve Johnson, and Tom Donnelly from Larimer
County and Boulder County Commissioners Cindy Domenico, Deb Gardner, and Elise Jones toured the present Depot Library before the public hearing, listened for nearly two hours to a dozen or more of the nearly two score residents who packed the Shirley Johnson Chambers for the hearing, and then retired to a local restaurant with their staff and Lyons elected officials to digest some BBQ and the comments they had just heard.
Mayor Julie Van Domelen welcomed the Commissioners to Lyons who, to a person, commented that they were “impressed” with the large turnout of residents for an issue that had nothing to do with marijuana. Library Steering Committee Chairman Mark Browning addressed the Commissioners and touched on three main topics; the need for a new or upgraded facility, noting that the present Depot Library was approximately 1,100 square feet in size (600 sq. ft. in the depot, and another 500 sq. ft. in the baggage car addition), the public support (in addition to the residents present, he offered the Commissioners a petition of support with over three hundred signatures), and the math (a 5.85 mil levy tax on property within the proposed district worth about $54 million from Boulder County, and $10 million Larimer County that would bring the district approximately $385K annually). Browning noted that the increased annual tax would be about $148 [about $12 per month] for a person whose property was valued at $300K, and about $280 per year for a home valued at $600K. He estimated that there were about three thousand residents in the district, which would more or less follow the boundaries of the Lyons Fire Protection District. Browning also assured the Commissioners that there is money allocated to pay for the cost (approximately two to three thousand dollars) of putting the initiative on the November 2013 ballot. And he informed them that a little over $270K has been pledged so far in the Capital Fundraising efforts.
When it was time for the public hearing, a bevy of adorable young girls told the Commissioners of their desire for “more books, computers, programs, and more space to do school projects and homework.” Truth be told, they had the Commissioners from “I’ve lived here in Lyons a long time, my whole life!” Then a parade of business owners, parents, teachers, and elected officials added their support for the idea.
To be fair, there were three speakers who didn’t come out in full support of the idea. One was a woman who read a statement from former Trustee Peter Baumgartner, who couldn’t make the meeting. She prefaced the letter by indicating “these are not my feelings or views on the subject.” The letter basically went over the points that Baumgartner has made to the Lyons Board of Trustees at their meetings over the last month and in his letter to the editor in the Lyons Recorder of two weeks ago. A curmudgeonly fellow from Allenspark (not within the proposed district boundaries), who apparently has had an axe to grind for a number of decades with both Larimer County and Boulder County about a special recreation district that was formed in 1954 (and he has been petitioning to get out of) took the opportunity of having both Commissions in the same room at the same time, to give them all an earful of his disgruntlement. Commissioner Domenico had to finally gavel him down when he continued to voice his displeasure even after he was informed that his “time” was up (everyone was given three minutes to speak). A third woman had some issues with the vagueness of the wording for the proposed November ballot measure. She felt that people might wind up voting yes, thinking they were voting for a library, and then wind up having to pay for “pool, or a performance hall, or a race track.” There were a couple of lawyers present, one from the Library Steering Committee, and another from Boulder County Staff, who tried to assuage her doubts and concerns.
The two County Commissions voted Tuesday night (September 3) in their regularly scheduled meetings in Fort Collins and Boulder to put the issue on the November ballot for the Lyons area voters. So now the real work for the library supporters begins, to garner public support for this initiative between now and November 5.