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Gering to consider site for new library
October 25, 2012 Jerry Purvis   

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After a potential commercial venture on city property fell through, the city is now considering the northeast corner of 10th and M Street as a possible site for a new public library.

Over the past two-plus years, a number of different options have been considered at the former McKee property, in downtown Gering,
The city had earlier considered the vacant former Sun Mart building as a potential site for a new library. But when a new supermarket was recruited, the library site was pushed in a different direction.
The current library, adjacent to city hall on P St., has long outgrown its space and parking has always been limited.

Earlier this year, the city council agreed to purchase the former Lane Auction House, diagonally across the street from the library. Although it was a valuable commercial property, it turned out to be smaller than needed for a new library. Plus, the same lack of parking existed at the auction house site.

Gering City Administrator Lane Danielzuk said the redeveloper of record inspected the property and found it unsuitable and not cost effective to meet the city’s requirements for a new library.
A survey of Gering residents conducted by the library staff revealed that most people wanted a new library to remain in a centralized downtown location.

The Gering Citizen’s Facebook page has generated a lot of discussion on the potential site. Many people said that 10th and M Streets is one of the city’s most highly trafficked intersections, so it could be a hazard for children crossing the street to the library.

“A lot of work still needs to be done with respect to the site and how things are placed before we know anything,” Danielzuk said. “Traffic and street issues obviously need to be considered, but those evaluations haven’t taken place yet. I wouldn’t propose one way or another about any condition or situation that project would develop, at least at this particular point in time.”

Another concern for Facebook posters was the potential displacement of two viable businesses: the Self-serve Laundramat and Prairie Pines Quilt Shop. They said the Laundromat provides a needed service for many Gering residents. And the quilt shop brings in business from quilting enthusiasts from around the region and several surrounding states.

“The redeveloper and the city are working on business retention for both of these businesses,” Danielzuk said. “It’s our intention to keep both of them in the city, but negotiations are ongoing.”

Other people wondered if it was wise to take a valuable piece of commercial real estate off the tax rolls for a government building.

“Community development projects are what make a town sustainable in the first place,” Danielzuk said. “Without good community infrastructure you don’t have good retail and those kinds of opportunities to come in. As far as tax losses, it’s kind of a Catch-22.”
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