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The roiling storm swirling over the Salt Lake City Public Library may next settle across the street before the City Council.
That is the body with final say on the locations for new branches along with the tax increases to pay for them planned in Glendale and the Marmalade area. Now that the Library Board has made its recommendations, people opposed to both choices are pledging to lobby the council to select different spots.
In a 4-3 vote Thursday, the board selected Glendale's so-called "North property," in a residential area close to three schools just off California Avenue and Concord Street. The spot was also the choice of a steering committee that labored for years to gather public input.
"We promised Glendale a library," said board member Elizabeth Gupta, "and we feel like it ought to be delivered to Glendale."
But board member Ila Rose Fife, along with her husband and former state Sen. Fred Fife, blasted the decision arguing it gave short shrift to a parcel along the Jordan River parcel near 900 South and 1100 West. Since that spot bordering Poplar Grove was added late to the list of possible locations, the Fifes contend the public never got to weigh in.
Ila Fife said she was told by Mayor Ralph Becker and the city's development heads that construction on the city-owned river site, "can start tomorrow." Some city officials covet the site since it hugs a planned streetcar route, but the council, in a February straw poll, unanimously endorsed the "North property."
"It's something that we may be sorry for," Fife said, "for a long time."
Critics of the 500 North and 300 West Marmalade site came unglued Thursday when they learned the board gave its official nod to that location last month. They expected the Marmalade vote this week, and claim they never were informed.
"They don't want to look at an old building," said Robert Walton, advocating for the former St. Mark's Hospital at 800 North across the street from Warm Springs Park. "They want a brand new building. The fix was in from the beginning."
Cousins Ben and James Rogers, who own the so-called Northgate Park building, were livid at board members, who revealed the steering committee never actually toured the building in question.
"There's a lot of hanky pank going on," James Rogers said, adding the board wants to build its "Taj Mahal" nearer the 600 North freeway entrance.
Added Walton: "How can you make recommendations without going into a building."
Storming out, the group said its next stop is one building over City Hall.