Carbondale Library Considers Its Options

May 1, 2013

Jim Calaway
Credit Roger S. Adams

The Town of Carbondale is facing a pleasant dilemma.  Later this year the town’s library will move to a new building and must now decide what happens to the current library.  The dilemma for Town Council is deciding among three good proposals for what to do with the Gordon Cooper building on 4th street. 

Among the ideas is an academy for the performing arts; dance, music and theater. Peter Gilbert, founder of Carbondale’s Dance Initiative is behind the plan.

“The proposal,” says Gilbert,  “is to put together five existing organizations that are involved in the performing arts; dance, theater, music, voice and create what I have named the Carbondale Academy of Performing Arts or CAPA.”

CAPA would be a place for the teaching and rehearsal of performing artists.  Plans call for the library to be fitted with a floating wooden dance floor and individual rehearsal studios.  Gilbert says the initial stage of the academy would be four years after which the organization would re-evaluate its membership.  If successful he says it would stay on.  Earlier this week Gilbert and supporters of the other two proposals presented their ideas to a work session of the Town Council.  Also appearing was Kathryn Camp and her partners who want to open an infant child care center for working families.

“If you need the income you’ve got to get to work and you can’ go to work if don’t have the child care.”

The center Camp envisions would use the library to create a home like atmosphere for children from birth through age ten.  It would include a pediatric physicians office, play areas, nap rooms, a kitchen and an organic garden.  She says it would fill an unmet need.

“In infant care, in this part of the valley, there are two spots; two licensed spots. There is a 21 family waiting list for those spots.  And, so what happens to those mommies that have to back to work is often what they call illegal care and that’s someone working out of their house without a license.”

The third proposal Town Council is considering promises to bring tourism to Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley; especially tourists seeking world class art.  Renowned sculptor James Surls, whose works are in public spaces around the world, lives and works in Carbondale.  His fans include a businessman and longtime friend of Surls. 

“I’m Jim Calaway and I’m sort of the unofficial head of the movement to create a James Surls museum in Carbondale.”

Calaway’s name graces a cancer center in Glenwood Springs and who is behind many public spaces including Carbondale’s Thirst Street Center.  He along with the artist are proposing to raise a million dollars to enlarge the Gordon Cooper building to house Surls often massive nature inspired sculptures.  The museum would include a educational space for guest artists and Surls himself to work with young local artists.  A gallery inside the museum would bring in other works of art.

“James would be the curator where we’re going to have currated local, regional and some national artists in there. And, he’s a master at that. So we’re going to be serving the young artists in this area.”

Calaway promised council there would be no cost to the city and that the museum would operate under a non-profit for 20 years.  On May 14 Town Council will accept public comment on the three proposals and then make decision sometime thereafter. 

One council member told us it will not be easy.  It is he said, an embarrassment of riches.