Letter: Ideas for Library/Carlson Courtyard Park

Posted 8/10/22

The recent rejection of the $350,000 bid for landscape planting at the historic downtown Idaho Springs Library by the City of Idaho Springs would be better spent toward a more comprehensive Library Park with a“bigger picture” design tying it into the new building replacing Carlson Elementary with a new entry Courtyard on the southeast side of the building.

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Letter: Ideas for Library/Carlson Courtyard Park

Posted

The recent rejection of the $350,000 bid for landscape planting at the historic downtown Idaho Springs Library by the City of Idaho Springs would be better spent toward a more comprehensive Library Park with a“bigger picture” design tying it into the new building replacing Carlson Elementary with a new entry Courtyard on the southeast side of the building. This would yield a more unified and dynamic urban space that would invite pedestrian flow from the gateway area of Miner Street and 13th Avenue east to the Library and historic downtown pedestrian mall. 

The highest and best use for Carlson is a boutique hotel (Ritz-Carlson ?) which would be great for downtown but hotels require more money up front to develop than condos and are a more intensive use. A hotel would need a drop off-pick up  entry for vehicular traffic which a condo would not necessarily need. The most important thing is that the new building fits the scale and character of historic downtown Idaho Springs. 

A new Carlson Courtyard could be created by demolishing a portion of the existing front classrooms to the southeast to allow sun into a new Courtyard with a taller building wing in the rear along Colorado (demolishing the school wing along Colorado). A portion of the school building front at the southwest corner of Miner and 13th Street along with the gymnasium could be preserved for historic character and to transition to the higher new building in the background along Colorado Boulevard. The new wing along Colorado Boulevard could have and may need a one or two story parking garage, which could be similar to the new City parking garage along I-70, with rooms above. 

The dynamics of this Carlson Courtyard to Library Park space would also help break up the mass of the new building and transition from a taller building along Colorado Boulevard, probably three to four stories on top of the garage , down to the smaller Fire House and Library neighboring buildings. The Carlson Courtyard may be vehicular or pedestrian which connected to the Library Park would then provide pedestrian flow into the historic downtown mall.

Now is the time to plan for this once in a lifetime opportunity to make the new Carlson building and the Library Park a unique landmark for the Clear Creek Community that best blends into historic downtown Idaho Springs.

Mike Caistor, Idaho Springs

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