City council approves $1.1 million design process for new library

WICHITA, Kansas – It will cost $1.1 million for blueprints to design a new library for Wichita.

“Good things come to those who wait,” says City Council Member Janet Miller.

Miller voted yes to spend the money for the blueprints for a new library.

“And, yes, it’s been a long time in the making,” says Miller. “But in the end it’s going to ensure that we have the absolute best, highest value for the investment that we are going to make in this new library.”

On Tuesday, the Wichita City Council voted to approve the funding agreement with the Wichita Public Library Foundation to authorize GLMV Architects to complete the design development and construction documents on a new Central Library.

The vote was 5-2 on the issue. City council members Pete Meitzner and Jeff Blubaugh voted against the plan.

“But, I’m really concerned about transit,” says Meitzner. “People that ride our transit ride because they don’t chose to in our city like in other cities. They ride because they need to.”

Meitzner wonders if the transit/bus system should be a priority, along with the library. He is also concerned about that $1.1 Million for the blueprint cost.

“It’s my understanding we have about a million visitors a year to the library,” says Meitzner. “But we have about two million rides on transit each year.”

The library would cost about $30 million. By comparison, city leaders say it would take about $7 million to enhance the transit system and add new bus routes.

As for the blueprint plan for a new library, the Library Foundation says it will pay about half the cost up front. Then, if the library building plan is approved by the end of 2015, that foundation would pay the rest.

“But if the new library is a no-go, the city would have to pay that roughly half a million itself,” says Meitzner. “I don’t want to obligate a what-if for a future vote.”

Meitzner points out city elections are in April, and three city council seats are up for election, along with the mayor. He wonders if a new council could say, no to a new library.

The most recent cost estimates for the project is around $30 million. Back in 2008, the city purchased land for the library near 2nd and McLean.

The plan for library would call for tripling the amount of public computers.

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