City Council praises proposed library, expresses concern over $52 million cost
Master-plan presentation offers the council its first opportunity to discuss the proposed $52 million 60,000 square-foot library
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BURLESON – Monday at City Hall, the Burleson City Council discussed the Burleson Public Library master plan, including a new $52 million 60,000 square-foot library.
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The master-plan presentation offered the council its first opportunity to discuss the master plan after it was initially presented to the Burleson Library board December 5.
The presentation included 720 Design Inc.’s findings on the Burleson Public Library. Burleson started working with 720 on a library master plan in January 2022.
The top requested services the new library would provide include a quiet reading area, an outdoor study/workspace, a multi-purpose activity room, community-gathering and performance spaces, a teen activity area, a STE(A)M learning area, a mobile-demonstration kitchen, a group-study/tutoring room, an outdoor learning area, coffee/vending services, a craft room/makerspace and a computer lab, according to the presentation.
720 found that, of the seven public libraries they included research on in the presentation, the Burleson Public Library has the second-most visits per capita and the second-lowest square-footage per capita.
The Burleson Public Library (17,000 square feet) offers .28 square-feet per capita to Burleson’s 60,771-people population. The Texas average is .51 square-feet per capita.
Mayor Chris Fletcher, Mayor Pro Tem Dan McClendon and councilmembers Larry Scott, Ronnie Johnson, Victoria Johnson and Adam Russell all said they liked the design but are concerned with the cost.
“This library looks great,” Scott said. “It’s the library I would want, but cost is another thing that we have to talk about.”
Fletcher said the city is getting ahead of itself with the library master plan and points to it not including the road-construction necessary to access the library at its proposed location near the western border of the city.
McClendon believes a city-hall master plan and infrastructure-improvements should come before building a library.
“If we’ve got potholes all over the street but we’ve got a great brand-new library, we’re missing something,” McClendon said.
Scott pointed out Burleson hasn’t grown to the proposed library location yet and is concerned the citizens wanting one library opposed to multiple branch-libraries would have to “drive across town” to access the library.
Scott suggested increasing the library-building to 70,505 square feet from 60,505 square feet, using 40,505 square feet for a main library, keeping the existing Burleson Public Library as a branch-library and using the remaining 30,000 square feet as a “city hall annex” that’d offer citizen services. He suggested this option would increase the total cost to $65 million but would allow the city to save $60 million by not building a separate new city-hall building.
Fletcher also suggested 720 explore building the library as a multi-use building that’d serve other city needs.
720 is working on a city hall-library combination-building for Celina, Texas, 720 principal Maureen Arndt said at the meeting.
“There are some creative opportunities for looking at processes like that that combine city-needs together but still allow each to grab [space],” Arndt said.
Some of the services offered by the proposed library could be used by other city departments like parks and recreation, which could help fund the project, said Victoria Johnson. Johnson is concerned about Burleson’s ability to pay the proposed cost with its limited debt-capacity, she said at the meeting.
If the council approves the library-build when it’s presented for its approval later (no date announced), the construction would take approximately 42 months, according to the presentation.
Arndt, 720 senior project manager Mia Ovcina and Burleson community services director DeAnna Phillips presented the master plan to the council.
Additional notes from the city council meeting:
City Council set a joint public hearing with the Planning and Zoning commission March 4 at 5 p.m. at City Hall to solicit feedback on Burleson’s proposed liquor-store zoning in anticipation of the public voting to allow liquor stores to operate in Burleson.
State-representative candidate Helen Kerwin spoke at the meeting, letting everyone know she’s concerned about the southern border, she believes parents should be involved in their children’s education, she’s against voter-fraud and is “very much in favor of pursuing” eliminating property taxes.
City Council instructed city staff to negotiate a “full-scope” contract with Focused Advocacy for legislative-consulting services to “enhance the city’s posture toward legislative initiatives.” Focused Advocacy’s full-scope annual contract costs $108,000.
Assistant fire chief Casey Davis presented an update on Burleson Fire Department EMS services, which showed the fire department is handling less interfacility transfers after citizens raised concerns over misusing the ambulances at a city council meeting December 11.
City Council approved Old Texas Brewing Company’s application to install a metal awning over and fence around its patio area in parking-spaces in front of the restaurant after tabling the restaurant’s first two applications in 2023.