SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Library - What is Best ?
By George Tipton


August 21, 2010
Saturday AM

This issue has been looked at for years but finally a local group with the HELP of the Foraker Group has come up with alternatives and solutions. They looked at varying options with certain criteria so that all situations could be scored against equal comparables. I have been involved with these reviews on many proposed projects including the Weiss ballfields, the Indoor Rec Center, the new School, just to name a few. I do not advocate any particular location but look at the facts and history of a given situation. In 2004 & 2007, the City put out RFP's for Library locations. The criteria changed from approx. 16,000 sq. ft. to 23,000 sq. ft. There was no real reason given for the change but the City Council, including Mr. Bergeron accepted it - a mistake.

I asked staff and the Council about the reviews and scoring that supposedly occurred for each set of RFP's and no one could provide me with anything. I already knew this because I had never been contacted for a walk thru of my building, the square footage, price, etc. Just an example is that I could have remodeled my whole building and sold it to the City for a Library for under $8M. However, this did not occur because many of the same individuals, business owners and City employees wanted it in a Downtown location, no matter what may be in the best interests for the Community. This, even though, their choice at Grant Street removes much needed parking, does not provide good year-round accessibility and forces us onto a street which has a percentage grade (13+%) that exceeds an Ordinance that the Council themselves passed for new construction (11%).

The A Better Choice group wants it at a location that has been rejected 3 times and the architects and Foraker Group, independent authorities, also reviewed that location with negative connotations. Luckily the Foraker Group has provided us with an unbiased set of choices that the Council & the Community should endorse. The Proposed Location, while maybe not the optimum, would be located across from 3 long-term entities - KRBD, Channel Electric and the Borough Bus Barn/Maintenance Facility, so it is not alone. One end would border on Schoenbar Road where we have 3 Schools, Ballfields,the Recreation Center, the proposed new Pool, a major thoroughfare, etc.

Many of the ABC group were also opposed to moving the Borough offices. Their supposed leader, Mr. Bergeron, has stated that the governments need to have their ability to make long-term financial committments severely limited. This is from the same person that voted while on the Council to put the the Library/Parking Garage on Grant Street site without sending it to the voters. He was also in favor of a land swap of Lot 10A (the new Fire Station lot downtown) for Ward Cove property and then giving away Lot 10A (worth $1.18M) without allowing the people a vote. If those did not have have financial implications, I am not sure what classifies! Many people have stated that CPV funds can and will be utilized for Capital & Operating funds for the new Library. I guess they are utilizing a different crystal ball than most as the project does not fit into acceptable criteria for fund expenditure. In other words be careful about believing varying things that are being written as they can change like the breeze, as the case was shown above.

The architects and the Foraker Group have reflected on cost - 1 story vs 2 story (add'l square footage for stairwell, an elevator, etc.) and it is just about a wash for cost. It also limits the long-term employee cost by having one level for one person to control the entry points. They have included the costs of purchasing property vs utilizing City-owned property and comparing the costs of Libraries in other communites. I appreciate the job that has been done in reducing the size of the Library back to where it started at in 2004, weighing varying alternatives and trying to look out for the future of the community and the best interests of the whole. The simple fact that we can be considered in the next funding cycle and only have a potential cost of up to $4M is a long way from where we have been in discussions for this building for years! Many folks have talked about building in a rock pit but almost every area of town was a rock pit while subdivisions, etc. were developed. You had to blast and drill but it was not always processed on site. Some examples in recent history would be Cambria, Jackson Heights, Summit Terrace areas. Development will always occur and things will work out.

It is time to get out and vote and reject the Grant Street site as experts far greater than my knowledge have explained by VOTING NO on 2 and YES ON 1.

George Tipton
Ketchikan, AK

About: "former elected official, offeree for Library space"

Received August 20, 2010 - Published August 21, 2010


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