Parker Library to move downtown

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A new Parker Library will be built on land purchased by the Town of Parker.

The partnership, announced April 30, will make the long-awaited expansion of the library happen much sooner than expected. The 2008 defeat of a ballot measure to fund the construction of a combined library and civic center where the Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center now stands put Douglas County Libraries on a three- to five-year plan.

Now that the town has stepped in, the library could open as soon as late 2014, said Jamie LaRue, director of Douglas County Libraries.

“The library managed to put the money away, waiting for the right moment,” he said.

Parker Town Council, which has made it a priority to turn the downtown area into a prominent creative district with a thriving business culture, approved a purchase and sale agreement in February to buy 9.39 acres of land near Mainstreet and Pine Drive for $2 million. The town will retain ownership of the property and plans to add retail elements and public amenities to complement the library, mayor Mike Waid said.

“The town is very excited to be entering into this partnership with Douglas County Libraries to bring the citizens of Parker and the citizens of Douglas County something that they have asked for for quite some time,” he said.

The library attracts an average of 530,000 visitors each year, and that traffic is expected to boost sales for downtown businesses and promote economic vitality, Waid says. Building the library across from the PACE Center and town hall will help fill out the east end of downtown.

The partnership came together earlier this year and discussions quickly turned into actions. The offer to build on town-owned land was welcomed with open arms by library leaders.

“We could not even envision this in such a rapid timeframe without the partnership with the town. We are grateful for that,” said Mark Weston, who sits on the board of directors for Douglas County Libraries.

Weston said the Parker Library bounced around from various churches and storefronts before a building was constructed in downtown Parker in 1985; that building now houses the Parker Water and Sanitation District headquarters.

In 1995, the library moved into its existing location, a former bowling alley, on the northwest corner of South Parker Road and Mainstreet. That facility has been plagued by poor access, inadequate parking and limited room for expansion.

While many of the details have not been finalized, including those pertaining to funding, site improvements and the exact location of the library on the property, the design phase is expected to commence this fall. Amy Long, manager of the Parker Library, said residents will have the opportunity to help decide which features are included by participating in focus groups and taking surveys. Visit www.noleafunturned.org and click on the ‘taking a short survey’ icon.

Waid said getting involved in the planning process is not an opportunity, but rather an obligation for library users.

LaRue hopes to be able to break ground in early 2014, however, a press release from the town put the first phases of construction around late summer next year. LaRue said the establishment of a library hub downtown marks the beginning of a new era for discovery and learning for kids and adults.

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