Library bookin’ to new home

Building
purchased for $700K

MEEKER — The town’s public library is on the move.
However, it won’t be moving very far. Two blocks, to be exact.
Sometime in August, the library expects to be in a new facility, said Mike Bartlett, library director.
The library will be moving from the Fairfield Center at 200 Main to the building at 490 Main owned by Jim Fay. The reason for the move? More room and better accommodations, Bartlett said.
“I’m just so excited about this,” Bartlett said while walking through the new facility. “This is going to be a nice library.”
The library purchased the Fay building in March for $700,000.
The library has been located in the Fairfield Center since 1974. Before that, it was located in the basement of the county courthouse.
“We’ve outgrown the space (at the Fairfield),” Bartlett said, adding there were some maintenance issues as well. “This is the fourth year in a row that we have not had air conditioning.”
In recent years, the Fairfield has been owned by the county. Originally, it was donated to the town by Freeman Fairfield.
“This building was not really built for a library in the 21st century,” Bartlett said. “The people who have tried to maintain the building have done a wonderful job, but they didn’t have the money to do right.”
Pat Hooker, administrator for Rio Blanco County, said the county is considering various options for the additional space it will gain when the library moves out of the Fairfield.
“We don’t have anything final or specific yet,” Hooker said. “But there is definitely the need for additional office space for the county. We have four or five options we are considering.”
Among the offices Hooker mentioned as possibilities to move included social services, planning and development and building and zoning as well as the county’s technology department, located in the courthouse.
“They are all cramped for space,” Hooker said.
He said he was not aware if the county had received an official date for when the library would move out of the Fairfield.
“We’ve heard the last few months that they (the library) were going to move into the Fay building,” Hooker said. “We just didn’t know when.”
The Fay building formerly housed the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District. The recreation center opened a new facility in January, making the Fay Building available.
“We looked into it before (the recreation district moved in), but then Fay came along and bought it,” Bartlett said. “That was the best thing that could’ve happened. He’s the one who put the money into it and made it nice.”
Belland Builders of Meeker remodeled the building for Fay. The library is using the same company to make some further improvements.
“It was remodeled for the recreation district, and they (Belland) have remodeled it for us,” Bartlett said. “They have done a terrific job. It is gorgeous.”
Jack Ball, one of the Belland workers involved in the project, agreed.
“This is going to be a nice library,” Ball said.
The new facility will give the library an additional 720 square feet, not to mention more storage space in the basement, where a shooting range was once located.
“That’s where most of the men in this town learned how to shoot their guns,” Bartlett said.
The additional space will be used for a dedicated reading room — “Where people can just go in and sit in a comfortable chair and read a magazine or a book,” Bartlett said — as well as an expanded children’s section.
The library, which is its own taxing district, started negotiating with Fay almost a year ago, Bartlett said.
“We are not asking for any money from anybody to do this,” he said. “We don’t have to raise taxes.”
As far as the purchase price, Bartlett said, “It was more than we wanted it to be.”
But he is excited about the future new home of the library.
“We needed to remodel it a bit to suit our needs,” Bartlett said. “But all we are waiting on now is the lighting.”
Entrance to the new library will be from the parking lot, which is south of the building.
The recreation district will continue to own the skateboard park next to the Fay building, though Bartlett expressed concern about recent vandalism to the park.