City Hall is planning an ambitious renovation of the Library and Education Center and is considering locations where the library functions could be housed during the work. Miners Hospital is seen as being potentially a key building during the work.
Details have not been finalized, and Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council spent time on Thursday discussing the possibilities. City Hall staffers will continue researching options and return to the elected officials later for more talks.
The renovation of the Library and Education Center, itself a historic building, is scheduled to start in February, shortly after the close of the Sundance Film Festival. The project, anticipated to cost $5.6 million, will expand the library space to the entire first and second floors. The third floor will house offices for not-for-profit organizations, a preschool, a commercial kitchen and community space. A small addition is planned on the north side of the building.
The work will force the closure of the library space, necessitating the discussions about temporary quarters.
Jonathan Weidenhamer, City Hall's economic development manager, described an option to continue the operations of the library that would involve Miners Hospital and the nearby City Hall-owned properties of the Recreation Building at City Park and a house next door to the Park Avenue fire station. He said the idea would create a campus-like setting for the library functions. Other options involve leasing space in privately owned properties.
Officials estimate it would cost approximately $50,000 to provide the library services in the three municipal buildings. Weidenhamer said some resources that are available at the Library and Education Center, though, will not be offered while the building is closed for the renovation.
The collection available on the shelves will be reduced in size, he said, adding that children's books and programs for youngsters will be priorities. There will be fewer computer stations for the public, but officials want to keep as many available as possible.
A City Hall report outlining the Miners Hospital option noted the municipal government would not need pay to lease space and it is close to the Library and Education Center. The report also listed concerns like the building not being fully accessible to the handicapped, the layout not being functional and fire safety. It said there would not be enclosed spaces for people to study in Miners Hospital.
Miners Hospital, dating to 1904, occupies a high-profile spot along Park Avenue, sitting at the main entrance to City Park. The building houses the offices of Mountain Trails Foundation and the Park City Summit County Arts Council. Sundance Film Festival organizers, meanwhile, move into most of the space in the building from September until the end of February for festival operations. The building also is available for private rentals, averaging approximately 12 per year.
Should library functions be shifted to Miners Hospital, Weidenhamer said, City Hall could offer Mountain Trails Foundation and the arts council other municipal space during the renovation of the Library and Education Center. Weidenhamer said Sundance organizers are willing to relocate during the work, but City Hall would need to negotiate an agreement with them. The building would not be available for private rentals while the library functions are housed there.
Miners Hospital housed the Park City library for 11 years ending in 1993. Longtime Parkites recall with fondness being part of a so-called 'Book Brigade' chain of people in 1982 who handed the library books to each other as they moved them from what was then the library on Main Street to Miners Hospital.
More recently, some functions of the municipal government were located at Miners Hospital while the Marsac Building underwent a major renovation in 2008 and 2009.