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Letter to the editor: Essentia site for library is the most cost effective

As part of the James River Valley Library System Board's efforts to inform the public on the process of building a new library, I wrote about why there was a need to build a new library. Another, more specific question that needs to be answered is "Why was the Essentia site chosen?" To adequately answer, a direct comparison must be made between the Essentia site and the second choice -- the Eagles site.

One of the biggest differences is size. The Essentia site is more than three times larger, allowing for far more flexibility of design and potential future expansion. The Eagles lot provides for little more than a rectangular building that covers the entire lot. There is no room for future expansion. The Essentia lot has great potential for landscaping and functional outside space. The Eagles site has none. The Essentia site allows for a one-story structure, lowering or eliminating certain construction costs, such as the need for an elevator. It also provides room for easier access to all, a reduction in staff costs, reduced theft and better overall security and patron safety. Any structure on the Eagles site would, by necessity, need be two floors. The Essentia site includes a large parking area and additional on-site and on-street parking. Parking at the Eagles site is far more limited. To build to anything close to the required size, one or two rows of the adjacent parking area would have to be taken, further limiting parking. The Essentia site sits in a beautiful residential neighborhood that would feel safe and welcoming to all of our patrons. The Eagles site is bordered by a bar, an alley and a parking lot. Could the Eagles site somehow be enlarged? There are only two possibilities. The bar could be purchased, increasing costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars. The buildings across the alley could be purchased and demolished, at least doubling the cost. The alley would need to be vacated and the utilities that run through it re-routed or moved at a substantial cost. Three thriving businesses would be removed from a downtown that desperately needs them. Finally, the cost for the Essentia site is $3.91 per square foot. For the Eagles site it is $9.62 per square foot. When everything is considered, the Essentia site is the best and most sensible use of money and would be a terrific site for our new library.

Always remember how much we value the input of the public. If there are any questions about this process you'd like answered, feel free to e-mail me personally at

Jim Nyland


(Nyland is vice president of the James River Valley Library System)