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Latest library session gives valuable information

By Nancy Grindle, Marion Times | October 8th, 2015 |

The second of three brainstorming sessions regarding residents’ preferences for the new Marion Library was held on Wednesday, September 30.

As people arrived, Library Board Secretary Eileen Robinson gave everyone a form to fill out. The forms had numbered boxes on both sides of the page, with “like” and “dislike” at the top of each box and lines underneath for participants to jot notes as they looked at a series of slides.

The slides consisted of more than 40 different buildings or external parts of buildings, such as columns, windows, doorways, sidewalk areas, plantings, roofs, even varying materials and designs of walls.

People were asked to raise their hand if they liked something (or strongly disliked something) as Huberty showed one slide after the other.

The first slide broke the ice; people reacted with wide grins and some chuckles. It was a picture of the Taj Mahal, with its white domes and reflecting pools.

Among the other slides were photos of local Marion structures. These included the Depot, the previous post office, and other structures located in the Uptown area.

Some slides were of buildings and architectural features from even further away – the Metro area, other communities, and even other states and countries.

One of the slides which received the most positive response was the former Marion Carnegie Library. One person’s comment was, “Yeah, just like that, only bigger.”

Huberty showed all of the slides first; then he backed through them more slowly, and attendees had ample time to consider and point out things they really liked, as well as the things they really disliked.

It seemed to be a very positive effort. People participated actively, established good dialogue, and shared ideas freely, which was the whole purpose of the charrette. And both Huberty and Raber appeared very pleased with the comments, which will guide Huberty as he prepares sets of possible designs for the new library.

The two men asked how many had attended the first charrette or the very first informational meeting held about a month ago. A majority had been at one meeting or the other, and a good number had been at both.

Raber and Huberty also talked about some of the other concepts that are under consideration for the new library.

Parking is one of those topics. It is anticipated that lower level parking on the west likely would be for residents and library staff, with surface parking for shoppers and library visitors.

Two entrances are envisioned, one from the street on the north side of the building and one from the surface parking lot on the south. There will likely be shared open space between 5th Street and 6th Street.

People also looked at slides of possible outdoor surface areas and seemed to prefer some open or planted space along sidewalks, driveways and buildings, and perhaps a number of exterior benches.

Inside the new library itself, a bookstore is anticipated, possibly near the south entrance, with a work area next to it. The first floor will have lots of room for activities: areas for children and areas for teens, and a variety of adaptable, hands-on spaces. A number of meeting rooms are anticipated, able to accommodate two to four, or even up to eight people.

The second floor will have computers, reading rooms, and research areas, as well as various collections.

The library will be designed for adaptability, to accommodate change over the coming years. With that in mind, plumbing and heating will be located around the outer perimeter, so the large central areas on both library floors can be flexible. Areas can be divided up or opened up, depending upon needs.

Among the questions that arose was this one: Who actually will own the building? It was explained that Ryan Company will own the building and the City will lease it with an option to buy. It was noted that at the end of the lease, the library would belong to the City outright. Raber said that the lease-to-buy concept amounts to leveraging something private to promote the public good.

When asked if the library will be of a sufficient size over many years, Raber mentioned that yes, it should easily serve the needs of the community for some time to come. Eventually, as new housing is added on Marion’s north side, it is likely that a second library or satellite library will be constructed there. He hopes that eventually a more formal relationship between the Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha and Marion libraries will come to fruition by the time another major facility would be needed.

Some participants asked about cost of the new library. Huberty cannot give an accurate estimate at this time, but now, from the information he has received at the charrettes, he expects to be able to create renderings for people to look at in early November. Also, by that time, it should be possible to determine realistic costs and come up with numbers for various construction options.

All Marion residents are invited to attend the next charrette, which will be at the end of October.

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