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Troubled ground may be in the way of proposed Library

by Lorien Nettleton ~ March 5th, 2013

The process of building a new library in Talkeetna hit another snag last week when issues with the selected site were discovered by the Mat Su Borough’s Department of Community Development.

Geo-technical analysis at the site revealed the soils were unstable and the foundation for a library at the site would require post construction, boosting the price by more than 300-thousand dollars. That’s according to Mat Su Community Development director Eric Phillips, who attended Monday night’s meeting of the Talkeetna Community Council to share the news. Phillips also informed the council that the Borough would have to conduct an Environmental Assessment, after the geo-technical inspector sensed a smell of diesel coming from the hole they had drilled to examine the soil.

The site selected for the proposed library is on a borough-owned lot on the Spur Road, north of the library’s current site and the Talkeetna Playground, and South of the location of a former gas-station. The site was selected after community input in 2007. Phillips said the site would need an immediate Environmental Assessment to determine how extensive the ground contamination might be.

Many people in attendance were dismayed that more than 5 years of planning for the library at its current location would need further examination. Mat Su Assembly member Vern Halter expressed disbelief that after the lengthy effort to select a location and secure grants from the state, community foundations, and an effort to secure funding from the borough, a new hiccup in the process was found at this late stage.

It was Phillips’ opinion that the community would want to select a different site for the library. He said the increased cost for building on the unstable soils, and the potential need for soil remediation made the current site undesirable. Two alternate locations discussed at Monday’s meeting included a parcel next to the Elementary School that abuts the Susitna River, and a larger parcel of Borough property near the junction of Comsat Road and the Spur Road.

The Friends of the Talkeetna Library plan to schedule a community meeting to weigh the options between pressing ahead with the current location at increased cost, or selecting from the other Borough-owned property in the area.

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