Library votes to move Cultural Center to next stage


JASPER — The Jasper Public Library Board voted to move the Jasper Cultural Center project into the construction documents phase at its meeting Thursday.

The vote was meant to come in a joint meeting with the Jasper Community Arts Commission, but the city had to postpone the meeting after notice of the meeting was not posted on time. Since all the library board members cannot make the rescheduled joint meeting, set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18, at Jasper City Hall, the library board decided to take their vote Thursday.

The vote is the first step in clearing Louisville-based developer City Properties Group to move forward with the next phase of the project, which will take the project through June and the bidding process. During the construction documents phase, City Properties will finalize the design and put together bid packages that will be sent to contractors wishing to lead construction of the building. The bidding process is scheduled to take place in June. 

City Properties is partnering with the library and the city on the roughly $12 million Cultural Center project.

“We need to get there,” Board President Dean Vonderheide said of the construction documents phase. 

The arts commission board must also vote to approve moving to the next phase as well, and is expected to vote next week at the rescheduled joint meeting. Although the library board will have already voted, its members plan to attend the meeting because it will include public comment and a presentation from the architects.

The library board’s vote came after the board viewed a 3-D model of the conceptual design for the building, which will unite the library and Jasper Community Arts Commission in one building at the corner of Third Avenue and Mill Street.

The model reflected recent changes to the design following comments from the Redevelop Old Jasper Action Coalition. Representatives from ROJAC spoke at the Arts Commission meeting earlier this month saying that the group felt the Cultural Center needed to have more of a manufacturing look to fit in with the rest of the city, particularly the area around Patoka River known as Old Jasper, which is where the Cultural Center will be located.

The latest design includes a darker color of brick and black mullions in the windows to add more of a manufacturing look to the building. The lettering for the signage on the building was also downsized. All three changes were ROJAC requests. Vonderheide said that although ROJAC had suggestions for the design, that did not mean they don’t support the Cultural Center.

“They’re totally behind our project,” he said.

Board member Pamela Catt expressed support for the smaller type on the signage, saying that she had also heard complaints from the public about the size.

Library Director Christine Golden pointed out that the design is not finalized. Although it is about 90 percent complete, there are still details to work out, such as specific colors of building materials and details of the interior. Board attorney Bill Shaneyfelt reminded board members that the core team, which consists of library and arts leaders and the architects, is considering every available option and agreeing on what is best.

“If anybody asks why didn’t you do this or why didn’t you do that, we’ll be able to say because (and give a reason),” Shaneyfelt said. “Everything has been investigated.”

Both the library and arts commission boards welcome public comment on the Cultural Center design. Both boards hold public comment sessions during their monthly meetings, and the public can also contact Golden at 812-482-2712 or Arts Director Kyle Rupert at 482-3070 with comments.

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