San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

April 4th, 2008
Library gains focus, loses ground

By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large

KYLE – The project of building a new library in Kyle at once became more focused and less definite Tuesday night when the city council endorsed a dollar amount for the project while all but declining a site recommended last month by the Old Town Kyle Advocates (OTKA).

Led by long-time eminence Moe Johnson, OTKA recommended a site on Burleson Street bordered on the south by Schwemmer Street. The site is composed of two lots next door to St. Anthony Church.

As city staff studied the site, it could not determine the exact size of the two lots taken together, although staff did determine that a 20,000-square-foot facility with 80 parking spaces could fit on the land, which adds up to 3.5 to four acres.

However, Kyle City Manager Tom Mattis once again pointed out that the new city hall in which the council meets is a 15,000-square-foot-building constructed for less than $3 million, thereby arguing that a 20,000-square-foot-library would be excessive.

“Another building of this size would be good enough,” Mattis said.

So, the building just got smaller. Also, according to Mattis’ estimates, a smaller building of 16,000 square feet would cost about $3 million – a $170 per square foot for the construction, and another $20 per square feet for furniture, fixtures and equipment.

Given the council’s belief that the land cost should equal no more than 10 percent of the building’s construction costs, it follows that the city would rather not spend more than $300,000 for the land. As it happens, four acres on the north side of old Kyle probably isn’t going to come that cheaply.

“I do not think there is any scenario whereby we could acquire that land for $300,000,” Mattis said.

Councilmember Michelle Lopez motioned that the library project be referred back to the library building committee with a budget of $3.3 million for land and construction costs combined. The council approved the motion, which leaves the library project with a pocket full of money and nowhere to land.

The city could still put the library on east-side land that has been made available, but councilmembers didn’t express great enthusiasm for those prospects.

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