A little girl checks a book out of the library. It is a story about the queen of Daytonia.
The queen realizes it is a great responsibility bestowed on her, and she must keep her kingdom safe and happy. The King of Daytonia really rules the kingdom, but the queen has a lot of power. King has strict rules, and the queen wants people to be happy and go along with the rules.
After listening to her subjects, the queen realizes that there is a desperate need in the kingdom for new libraries. So she sets about building one big library and several small ones. She finds some consultants that tell her it will cost 230 million in gold. The queen knows that the King will not giver her permission to spend that much of his gold, so she tentatively asks him a series of questions (through polling) to find his spending limit. After a lot of hinting around, she figures out that the limit is probably 187 million in gold.
How will you reduce the price of the libraries you want to build? asks her good friend Belinda.
“I will just make the work go faster and really push the workers to be efficient. If I do it faster, I don’t spend as much money.” replied the queen.
Belinda was dubious. She knows that you can go fast and do less, or go cheap and go slow (or do less), but has never seen anyone go fast and cheap and do the same amount of work. “Can you still build all the buildings and make sure that the kingdom is not filled with empty buildings?” Of course replied the queen confidently.
Belinda was concerned. She knew that the big library was very important to the kingdom. She knew that the plan the queen had come up with for the big library was not very detailed.
“Are you going to build the library in the same place? Because so often it floods.”
“Oh yes, and I think it would be super if we provided space underground for all of the horses to be parked while the people were in the library.” Replied the queen.
“But couldn’t the horses drown if they are so close to the water underground?”
“I don’t know…” said the queen. “Maybe we could build them a room on the first floor in the open garden to put the horses… and build more space for the library on top. We will figure it all out later.”
Belinda was confused. The horses always parked on the street and there was a lot of space there to look out over the garden where the children played and the people of the kingdom enjoyed their lunch. It seemed like it might upset the people if the garden is ruined.
Belinda tried a different tactic. “Wouldn’t it be easier to just build a new library in a safer place and build exactly what the people want?”
“Belinda, I would do that we can’t build that for 90 million in gold, which is how much we can spend on the big library. That would cost 96 million in gold. I can renovate the existing library for less money and just use the garden and current land because it is “free.””
Belinda was thoughtful for a moment. Perhaps the queen had a good idea, but still… only a difference of 6 million in gold? Belinda thought maybe it would make more sense to spend a little more money to get something perfect. She wanted to know more. She asked…
“How much of the garden would you use?” “Oh, I don’t know…” said the queen.
“How much would you save if you just used the parking space that is already available for the horses?” “$7 million in gold” said the queen.
What will the library look like? “Oh, I don’t know.” said the queen.
“Will it have all the important new features that the kingdom wants?” asked Belinda.
“Oh certainly.” said the queen.
“Tell me how the 90 million in gold would be spent…”
“Well, I can give you some rough estimates from the consultants, but I don’t really have any details” said the queen.
Belinda shook her head and said. “My dear queen, I think a new library is a great idea. But I know the king and he will want more answers before he will approve spending all that gold.”
“Well, I am going to ask anyway.” said the queen testily. “We can just figure out the details later.
Belinda said “Dear queen, the king would be foolish to give you that money without a way to hold you accountable. You need a detailed plan and a timeline that makes sense, and to be 100% certain you could deliver what is truly needed – and best for all -to take on such a project. The big library must be built very thoughtfully.”
The little girl put the book down and went to eat dinner with her parents. As she ate she saw saw a page of facts about the library being proposed for downtown Dayton.
- $87,687,798 is the budget for the new main library and should reflect the actual requirements for the facility, but in fact is based on a “price per square foot estimate.” There is no detail to what this number means, it is just a high level estimate.
- Members of the Board of Trustees for the library even questioned why we would renovate the library rather build new to save only 6.5 million of a hypothetical, high level budget estimate.
- From the plan: The current building has a number of issues that prevent it from being a candidate for expansion” with the most significant being that “Now the library is literally floating on top of aquifer and 25% of the main library’s space is regularly at risk of damage from flooding.” This would make underground parking as proposed in the plan nearly impossible. Significant, under-utilized parking exists all around the library today.
- The plan includes a 100,000 square foot expansion of the library that would be built on existing green space in Cooper Park, which the library leases from the city for free.
- The city has said they are not aware of any plans that encroach on Cooper Park. The executive director was quoted by the Dayton Daily News saying “About half of Cooper Park, which abuts the library, will be preserved under the current plan…” Despite strong resident resistance to losing much of the park, the plan says, well “at least a portion of Cooper Park and many of its signature trees will remain in tact.” (Dayton Daily News – Oct. 26, 2012)
- Cooper Park has benefited from improvements being made by the city as part of the Patterson Blvd. project. New paving, new lights and improved amenities will all be finished in 2012 – but that money will have been wasted if the library decimates Cooper Park during the library renovation. Residents expect to see property value increases due to the park renovations – some estimated up to 10% based on studies for the Trust for Public Land. All property value increases (and derived tax benefit for the city) would be delayed at least 4 years.
[dropshadowbox align=”left” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]“About half of Cooper Park, which abuts the library, will be preserved under the current plan…” Tim Kambitsch, director of the Dayton Metro Library[/dropshadowbox]The concept of the levy is solid, but the implementation details are too light for voters to make an informed decision or to hold the library accountable to the promise that the levy holds for the main branch. The plan to renovate the existing facility (vs. build new) does not make sense financially (nor does the parking component) given the loss in property values and income tax revenue over the next four years, nor has it been fully vetted. With a little creativity and additional time, I am confident that the library can come up with a facility plan that gives us a new building, possibly cheaper, while still meeting all of the site selection criteria identified for a main branch. This could allow the expansion of green space rather than the retraction of it. Please vote no on Issue 70 so that we can get the library and green space that we deserve downtown.
Editor’s Note – this article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dayton Most Metro or its contributors. Your opinions are welcome in the comment section below.
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