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

April 10th, 2009
Kyle to pick library site in a month


KYLE – The search for a site on which to build a new public library for Kyle has amounted to a two-year tour of the city, still without resolution.

The Kyle City Council took up the matter again Tuesday night, this time to discuss the feasibility of a new downtown site on property owned by the Sledge Family, one of the city’s oldest.

In a letter to the city from last August 5, Frances Sledge offered the property to the city for a price that would net her $331,000 after paying her selling expenses. Councilmember Ray Bryant placed the item on the Tuesday agenda, saying the city needs to put the matter to rest.

The council agreed to shoot for a decision at its May 5 meeting.

“We need to get this thing accelerated,” Bryant said. ” … I’m concerned that it will continue to drag out. We need to put a timeline on this.”

The city’s council and library building committee have been unable to reach a decision since first taking it seriously in the second half of 2007. After flirting with a site at Center Street and Interstate-35, on the east side of the highway, the city determined that a project to re-route SH 150 might delay the library for too long.

Next, the city flirted early last year with a site on Burleson Street next to St. Anthony Church. However, the city determined that the price would run well beyond $350,000, which is ten percent of the projected $3.5 million library project. The building committee has set an official policy of keeping the cost of land to ten percent of the entire project cost.

Various interests even proposed wrapping a new library around a refurbished historic city hall on the town square, but worries emerged that the square’s historic status would restrict building. A library planned between 15,000 and 20,000 square feet also would swallow much of the square.

The city’s lone library is a 2,000-square-foot facility that has been on Blanco Street across from Kyle Elementary School for decades. Many library advocates want a downtown site, not just because libraries usually are located downtown, but because, as Bryant said of the Sledge site, “it’s near neighborhoods, it’s accessible.”

Finally, the library building committee dramatically picked a late entry at a meeting last June, voting to negotiate with the Miller family for 162,000 square feet catty corner to the old city hall’s southwest. However, committee members knew the Millers probably wouldn’t let go of their land for $350,000, and that turned out to be the case.

“The Millers decided they didn’t want to sell,” Kyle Mayor Miguel Gonzalez said.

The city is back to the drawing board now, especially since citizens going before the council Tuesday, many belonging to Old Town Kyle Advocates (OTKA), are opposed to the building committee’s second selection in Plum Creek. Benchmark Development has offered a location near the Hays CISD Performing Arts Center for free, though the city would incur costs to put in the infrastructure.

The Sledge property hasn’t formally gone before the library building committee, but members have looked into the idea. An appraisal of the Sledge property for the committee by Mark Jones of Texas Appraisal Associates put the value at between $305,000 and $320,000.

The matter is likely to go back to the building committee before council makes a decision on May 5, but the council didn’t make it mandatory. Much of the discussion Tuesday concerned the library’s features.

Gonzalez noted that the city doesn’t have a needs study based on citizen input, as it has for the proposed recreational center. However, Councilmember Lucy Johnson said a “survey would take too long,” while Bryant said the time has come to pick the site and worry about the rest later.

Said Bryant, “Right now, our priority is, ‘Where is it going to be?'”

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