With last week’s decisive vote against the Pitkin County Library expansion, city officials are still tweaking plans to redesign the neighboring Galena Plaza.
The city park, which would have played host to the expansion, is still up for a face-lift in conjunction with needed repairs to the parking garage below.
City officials said that the lack of a library expansion doesn’t do too much to change the design and concepts for Galena Plaza.
“It’s just an expansion of the park toward the existing facade,” said John Laatsch of the city’s asset management department.
The library expansion would have been built on a 44-foot easement extending off the current east door of the building into the park, but voters by a nearly two-to-one margin rejected the idea of taking out more than $5 million in bonds and increasing operating expenses to make the project happen. Opponents of the plan took issue with expanding the building’s footprint onto a city park.
The city-owned Rio Grande Parking Plaza underneath Galena Plaza suffers from a leaky roof, and fixing the problem has been on the city’s capital projects list for years. Repairing the roof means tearing up the park as it exists today and rebuilding it when the work is done. But with the library planning an expansion, city and county officials wanted to carry out the projects together. Recent iterations of a redesigned Galena Plaza plan have included the library expansion.
With the library off the table, staff with the city’s asset management and parks departments are continuing to work on a Galena Plaza design that City Council has said it wants to be simple yet accessible to a wide variety of parks users, Laatsch said.
“Sometimes trying to simplify something is the most difficult thing you can do,” Laatsch said.
The city will also continue to meet with the library about making a design that enhances the library experience, he said.
City consultants are also working on evaluations of the garage roof/plaza floor’s weight-bearing capacity, which will influence design elements, Laatsch said. For example, some items like tree clusters and stone sitting areas may end up being cut out of the plan or reduced depending on structural concerns.
The city will know more about potential structural limitations of the park next week when consultants present a report, Laatsch said. Depending on what’s in the report, Laatsch and others on city staff may go before council in early December or January to discuss the Galena Plaza design.
The parking garage roof repair and plaza redesign are planned for 2014. The combined project has a $4.4 million budget.