By LANCE DUNCAN
The Kyle City Council moved forward this week on building a new library, though with some discussion as to whether the proposed 20,000-square-foot facility will be large enough to meet the city’s needs.
The council finalized the maximum cost of a 20,000-square-foot library at $3.2 million, basically the parameters the council set in April 2008 (20,000 square feet, $3.3 million).
Although Kyle is struggling with a hefty $73 million in debt, some citizens say a 20,000-square-foot library won’t serve the needs of a city that has grown more than five-fold to about 27,000 residents since the 2000 Census. Councilmember Lucy Johnson shared that concern, saying her research indicates that the proposed size will be too small once Kyle reaches 35,000 to 40,000 people. Johnson said some cities of that size have libraries of 30,000 or 40,000 square feet. Johnson also noted, though, that Seguin, about the same size as Kyle at roughly 25,000 people, has a 15,000-square-foot library.
Councilmember Ray Bryant said he, too, is concerned about 20,000 square feet being too small, and asked that the city seek advice from an expert.
However, the will of the council held that the city has waited for long enough on a library, discussion of which has persisted for going on three contorted years.
Councilmember and Mayor Pro-Tem Michelle Lopez said the city can build what it wants for the $3.2 million price. Kyle Mayor Mike Gonzalez said a larger library might not be possible, because the city has already purchased the land based on 20,000 square feet and part of that land will be used for parking.
Kyle City Manager Tom Mattis said the San Marcos Public Library is 20,000 square feet (it is actually 27,000), and that professionals had advised staff to keep the library as a single-story building, which would prevent it being much larger than the current designs. However, Mattis said that the library can be built as big or small as the council desires, since it is up to their discretion.
Lopez, who chairs the library board overseeing the project, said the board agrees that 20,000 square feet is an appropriate size. Councilmember Becky Selbera, who is also on the library board, said that $3.2 million is enough money to build what Kyle needs.
“I’d rather do something that the committee has already approved,” Gonzalez said.
Councilmember David Wilson echoed Gonzalez’ sentiment about getting the project done, and added that he trusts the library committee.
“The quicker we move on, the better chance we have of having a library,” Wilson said.
Councilmember David Salazar said the current Kyle library is 4,900 square feet and that Kyle’s city hall building is 15,000 square feet. Salazar said 20,000 square feet would be a big improvement from the current library.
Gonzalez motioned for the maximum funding to not exceed $3.2 million. The motion passed unanimously.