Old library location to turn into neighborhood park
Posted on 8/9/2018 7:18:00 AM.
(Seguin) -- There's been no shortage of ideas about what the city should do with the old Seguin Public Library building on East College Street. People from all walks of life in Seguin seem to have an opinion about what the city should do. The Seguin City Council has listened to all of those ideas, and at the end of the day, the best use may be to remove the building and provide a new green space -- a neighborhood park for the community.

The news may be disappointing to some, but the decision is largely based on an assessment done on the condition of the building. City Manager Doug Faseler says an architectural firm evaluated the structure and found that the old library building was in pretty bad shape.

"Obviously, the building does not meet ADA standards from the times it was built in the 1960s and an add on in 1985, I believe and there is asbestos in the building as in a lot of old buildings. Most of it is not friable but if you are going to do something to the building, you'd want to get it all out and not have to deal with that in the future. The AC unit is very dated. It will need to be replaced. I was just talking to Jacki (library director) when she was operating the library and she said it was horrible. Of course, things are much more efficient these days with units and everything so you would be looking at that. The roof -- the building leaks also the windows -- the sealant around the windows -- I know Jacki commented in the past on how they leaked. Of course, lighting is not to current with energy efficient codes and more important in some areas, there are some structural issues with the foundation," said Faseler.

Seguin Mayor Don Keil says it would be very expensive to fix the building. Besides the costs of repair and renovation, Keil says the building was never a good fit for that part of the city, and he says the structural concerns with the building simply led him to believe that a neighborhood park was the best option for the community.

"It would be very very expensive to fix this thing to put it to the standards that we would expect for a public building in the city of Seguin. With that being said, in the past several years, we've been spending an awful lot of time on our master plan, on our urban plan on trying to make sure that when we do something within a residential area that it is something that is compatible with that area, that it is something that fits in that area and frankly, with all that we have been doing here lately and the decisions we've been making -- I think the advise that we've been getting from our planners is the fact that a public building of any use like that is not proper in the residential area such as this," said Keil.

Keil says the community park would bring back a community asset that existed many years ago at that location. He says this is a great way to improve the quality of life for those who live in that area.

"Originally, when the Bauer Family began this development way back in the mid 20th Century, this was a beautiful little park called Bauer Park. It had a fountain in the middle. It had goldfish and so forth around it and it was a perfect amenity I think for a residential area and frankly in my opinion at this point is that I think it should probably revert to a city park of some sort. I don't think it has to be anything of any grand nature. I think we could take the building down and spend a few thousand dollars rather than remake a building and spend several million dollars on something with a dubious use," said Keil.

Councilwoman Jet Crabb says she's heard all the wonderful ideas about how the building could be converted into some other attraction for the community, but she says the building just isn't suitable for any of those uses in its current state.

"After looking at the condition of the building and seeing the expense that would be incurred to try to get it back to standards, it just sounds to me like taking the building down really is the best way to go and I think a park is a great idea for that area. You already have a place that is surrounded by beautiful pecan trees," said Crabb.

Some in the community had already suggested that the building be torn down, and that the land be used to create new housing in that part of town. Mayor Keil explained that selling it, or developing it for housing was not an option. He says the Bauer Family, when it donated the land decades ago, made it clear that it was to be utilized as a space for the public.

"We can't take it and sell it off and put lots on it and put houses. It has to remain public. I think when the library was originally built, the old library at the time in the early 60s -- I think it was probably done because they had the free land and it was a public space and I think probably the economy of it was the reason that it was there in the first place because any reasonable city planner would not put that library in that position today," said Keil.

There were some extremely creative ideas about how to use the building in the future. Citizens suggested the space be used as a children's museum, a community center, a community college, and recreation space for children. Those are just a few of the ideas that came forward when the city first announced that it would be having this discussion this week. Councilwoman Donna Dodgen says they were some really good ideas, but unfortunately, the building's current condition make it nearly impossible to make any of those ideas a reality.

"I think most of the ideas were based on that the building was in good sound condition and that would open a whole host of other ideas and after looking at the report and being way overwhelmed with the detail and what was involved and the money there -- we have so many other things honestly that I'd like to spend that money on than (refurbishing) that building," said Dodgen.

The council reviewed the assessment on the building during its meeting on Tuesday night, and reached a consensus that the community park idea was the best possible use for the site. Mayor Keil says they'll be putting together a resolution for its next meeting that will formalize the council's decision to tear down that building, and to create a new Bauer Park at that location.
city of Seguin; Seguin City Council

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