Lone Tree residents who filled the city council’s meeting room Oct. 15 expressed overwhelming support for the city’s plan to eventually convert the current library building into a community center. Only a handful endorsed Councilmember Kim Monson’s proposal to pursue the operation of two libraries.
A library official who spoke before the public comment portion of the meeting said Douglas County Libraries couldn’t feasibly operate two branches in the city of 11,000 residents. RidgeGate has offered the library district a site in its development south of Lincoln Avenue for a new, larger facility. The current library at Yosemite Street and Lone Tree Parkway and the proposed site near the Super Target are 1.1 miles apart.
“We believe (operating two libraries in Lone Tree) would be impossible for us,” said library spokesman David Farnan, citing administrative and other costs. “We are a lean machine. The only way we’ve done that is finding smart, efficient ways to run libraries.”
Construction of a new city library to replace the space now too constrained to adequately serve the area still is three to five years distant, and the land deal is not yet sealed.
The city recently hosted a series of community meetings about its idea to buy the 10,000-square-foot library building and convert it into a community center with limited library services.
On Oct. 10, the Lone Tree Voice published a guest commentary from Monson, in which she said the city could support two libraries.
Monson’s commentary surprised and irked her fellow councilmembers.
“The rest of the city council doesn’t believe two libraries is a practical solution,” Mayor Jim Gunning said. “Most of us have been here long enough to know the little library on the corner is important to this community. A virtual library would still be able to serve many of the needs.”
Several residents who spoke said the proposed site on the high-growth side of the city someday will be more central than the current one.
“What I love about being a banker is no new taxes,” said Don Rogers, president of Lone Tree’s First Commercial Bank. “What I also love is free land. I don’t see too many cases where you have a win-win. We get a new library and we get to keep the old library for a community center. This is a win-win.”
Dave Tanin is among those who likes the idea of two libraries, but said it appeared that was not under consideration.
“It seems to me the board and council have pretty much made up their minds; community outreach after you’ve made up your minds doesn’t make much sense,” he said.
Pat Perlinger, who lives in the unincorporated Acres Green neighborhood adjacent to Lone Tree, said he was disappointed the library hadn’t contacted anyone there about its plans.
“That library does not belong to Lone Tree,” he said. “I agree there should be a big, new library, but there was no outreach to Acres Green. We’re probably the longest users (of the library).”
Former city councilmember Sharon Van RamShorst criticized the guest commentary.
“I was extremely disappointed when I opened The Voice last week,” she said. “Going to the media is not the way to resolve differences of opinion in Lone Tree, and I’m sorry that it happened. I encourage you to proceed the way you have been proceeding.”
Monson, who assumed Van Ramshorst’s vacant seat in 2012, said the comments were valuable.
“It’s certainly been an interesting endeavor for me,” she said. “I believe it’s important people have their voice and that was the purpose of the guest commentary, to let people know. I want to say thank you for the process that is the American process.”