Omaha City Council hears comments on library plans

WOWT 6 News Live at 6:30
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 4:05 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - During its meeting Tuesday afternoon, the Omaha City Council heard public comments about the plans to relocate the downtown library to a new “temporary” home and open a separate processing center.

The W. Dale Clark Library sits in councilmember Danny Begley’s district—so does the new proposed location just four blocks away at 14th and jones.

He says it’s clear what his constituents want.

“It’s extremely 100% certain that my constituents have articulated to me that they don’t like that location at 14th and Jones,” said Begley.

City Council listened to a handful of people in support of this site.

“This opportunity to relocate the W. Dale Clark branch could be monumental for our downtown neighborhood. The historic building being considered and the surrounding area are ripe for revitalization and we welcome the efforts as part of the larger energy sparking on overall urban core improvements,” said one woman.

Many thought suggesting the current home for the W. Dale Clark Library could be renovated instead of spending money on a lease.

Others add in the proposed site lacks accessibility with no public transportation in front of the building.

The mayor’s deputy chief of staff for economic development says his team has thought long and hard about that.

“It’s very well served by transit opportunities with metro operating four transit lines within one block of 14th and jones, the proposed facility there,” said Kevin Andersen, Mayor’s deputy chief of staff for economic development.

But those at the meeting disagree. They say that will limit who can even go to the library

“That’s not one block away from four lines. I would also like to talk to you a little bit about walking since apparently it’s not that big of a deal if we have to walk from bus stops to libraries .”

But councilmember Begley says the city needs to look at other locations before jumping on a ten-year lease.

“You just drive around downtown, the old up site on 15th and Douglas, the old Civic Auditorium location on 16th and Capitol, 24th and Dodge Street there’s space over there if you look.”

The city is considering the 10-year lease at 14th and Jones streets, approved by the Omaha Public Library Board of Trustees last week. The city will also hear comments about the plan to locate the library’s processing center and administrative offices at 84th and Frederick streets.

The board’s decision paved the way for the downtown W. Dale Clark Library’s short move to a 110-year-old building at 14th and Jones streets, but some council members have had reservations about the temporary new location, such as parking and the lack of access to the ORBT bus line.

Watch some of the public comments

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