The Creston Valley Public Library parking lot may be significantly upgraded next year, following a decision made by the Creston Valley Services Committee at its Feb. 11 regular meeting.
Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) directors Garry Jackman (Area A), Tanya Wall (Area B), Larry Binks (Area C) and Coun. Jen Comer (Town of Creston, filling in for a vacationing Mayor Ron Toyota) recommended that an $82,700 contribution to the capital reserve fund to be added to this year’s budget, with a similar amount added early in 2017.
That would allow the $252,000 (concept A) or $273,000 (concept B) project be delayed until spring 2017, rather than doing the work in the fall. In the proposed 2016 budget, $63,000 in budgeted capital work and $27,736 from the reserve would have been available, which would have required increasing 2016 taxes by about $30 on a $400,000 property.
“That’s a lot to swallow,” said Comer.
Chief librarian Aaron Francis said the biggest complaints by library patrons are that the parking stalls are too narrow and often filled to capacity.
RDCK community services general manager Joe Chirico said the parking lot, used by the library and the RDCK office, has other safety concerns, including:
•the south entrance has a difficult slope in the winter and reduced visibility;
•no designated sidewalks from 16th Avenue South to the building and the trail behind;
•no angle parking facing 16th Avenue;
•no protection of the building’s south face from vehicles;
•no designated drop-off and pickup zones; and
•no accessible entrance to the RDCK office.
An upgrade would address these and other issues, and, in the case of one concept, increase the parking to 39 spaces.
Rather than spending money on the upgrade, Jackman initially suggested supplying parking permits to RDCK and library staff, and having them park along 16th Avenue.
Wall didn’t agree with that idea, citing large trucks on the street and the slippery (in the winter) slope to Erickson Road.
“The 16th Avenue corridor, in my mind, is a huge safety risk if we try to get people to park there and cross the street,” she said.
Leasing a nearby plot of land for staff parking — usually four RDCK and five library employees — was also suggested, although Wall pointed out that the parking lot she owns downtown, behind the Kootenay Hotel, is a “nightmare to try to police.”
But when the parking lot is largely unavailable during the upgrade, off-site parking will be a necessity.
“Whether or not it’s used to expand it, we’re going to need it,” said Comer.