The Denver City Council approved a resolution Monday for the development of a public library in the River North Art District, a project residents have said ignores Denver’s older and more disadvantaged communities.
Since the library proposal was announced in January, residents of the nearby Globeville, Elyria and Swansea neighborhoods have spoken out about feeling looked over.
“This has been a very controversial issue,” said Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, representative of District 9 where the library will be. “We’ve had to walk the balance of getting a library, period, while it’s available and getting it in the right place.”
CdeBaca said Monday that residents of Globeville and Swansea rightfully feel “slighted” that the library is going to RiNo when both of the much older neighborhoods have been been in desperate need of a library for years.
Officials said the new library will also serve the surrounding neighborhoods; however, residents point to the far walk, train tracks and massive cultural divide that separate the RiNo library from the other communities.
“This library should have been in Globeville or should have been in Swansea,” CdeBaca said. “I support it tonight but want us all to know that we’re due to serve the communities that already exist in these neighborhoods and not just the ones that we’re hoping will come.”
Councilwoman Deborah Ortega also said the library should have gone to a different neighborhood; however, she said future developments may be able to make up for this mistake.
Ortega said she is in talks with city librarian Michelle Jeske to potentially add a library to an existing development project within the Globeville neighborhood.
As of right now, the nearest public library to Globeville is a very small library in Elyria, meant to serve all three surrounding neighborhoods — a setup which Ortega called “totally inadequate.”
“I will be supporting this tonight but … stay tuned,” Ortega said.
The resolution provides $1.8 million to RiNo for the build-out, management and operation of the library over the next 10 years, which will be located within a city-owned building at 1930 35th St.
The 7,000-square-foot space would include features such as 3D printing and recording studios for public use. This will be Denver’s 27th library branch.