There’s a big fat front page story in the Ann Arbor News today headlined “Library considers big changes for main branch downtown.” Apparently the fight is between the District and the Downtown Development Authority, and the issue is the parking lot next to the library building on South Fifth.
The library doesn’t own the parking lot; the DDA does. And the DDA doesn’t want to give up 16 of its 223 spots to help the AADL transfer the entrance of the library from the spot where it is now, facing Fifth, to what would basically be the north side of the where the front of the building is now (I guess, looking at the map, where the young adult section currently is), with a passenger dropoff section presumably replacing the 16 parking spaces that the DDA is concerned about.
The crux of the story is that the library board of directors evidently feels that without the transformation of the lot, the main library branch, which has been at the corner of Fifth and William since 1957, is doomed and will need to relocate, possibly to a building somehwere half its current size, though nobody seems clear on where downtown they’re going to find a building that fits that description.
Now I can see the library’s point; the current situation is not that functional. There is absolutely no way you can get out of your car (or other vehicular conveyance) in front of the main branch now without getting creamed or causing a major accident. Fifth Street is basically a one-line north-south highway, and woe betide you if you’re a pedestrian trying to get across the lanes of traffic. Thus, you either use the DDA parking lot or you park elsewhere and walk.
However, the idea that a new building for the main branch is going to materialize downtown when there’s no space for anything downtown seems odd (not to mention the idea that a building half the size of the current building will be able to hold the current collection).
On the other hand, why the DDA is balking at accommodating what is undoubtedly the most significant use of the parking lot next to the library is a mystery that remains unanswered by the article.