Residents: Library proposal too expensive, too soon after current building construction
I'm a typical Ann Arbor resident — I love my libraries, and use them. That said, the idea of spending $65,000,000 on a new main library and destroying the existing one is spending like a drunken sailor. Yes, the main branch could use some renovations and upgrades — but the building itself is in good shape overall, and only 20 years old. For bricks and mortar, that's a teenager.
Last but not least, the city's taxpayers could probably spend $65,000,000 more productively on other things — or even better, not put the next generation into debt at all.â€¨â€¨
Ann Arbor’s cultured electorate votes reflexively for library proposals. I hope they are more circumspect this time. The proposed new palace is too showy, too commercial, to conference centery, and far too expensive. Has the library board contracted a DDA virus with a profiteering sense of its institutional mission?
The underused third floor is already a quiet reading area. Rarely do library programs seat even 100. A costly 400-place auditorium and pleasure dome will starve the neighborhood branches, which should be featured in library planning. Out from the congestion and increasingly expensive parking, they are convenient, democratic, and inviting to children. The longer I linger in the downtown facility, the louder the tick of metered parking dings in my head.
Using the library as a commercial draw to the business district flies directly in the face of library patrons’ interest. We are taxing folks of modest means out of town, and should not add $65M + interest in library debt to the momentum of capital extravagance in city hall and the subterranean parking fiasco.
Gordon E. Bigelow