Military Park chosen as site for proposed new library

A landscape view of Military Park, including the Newton Public Library building.

From the City of Newton:

On Dec. 10, the Newton City Commission approved Military Park as the site for a proposed new public library. The park, which is the current location of the library, was the top choice of attendees at two community meetings held Oct. 30, and was also the recommended location of the architects leading the project. The site was considered ideal because of its convenience/ease of access, proximity to downtown and adequate space for parking.

The project will now move into phase 2, which is the development of design concepts for the new library, and phase 3, a public education and fundraising campaign. The Commission authorized the City Manager to execute an agreement with the Newton Public Library Board for the library to be responsible for financing those two phases.

HBM Architects Recommendation

Read HBM’s full report, including “test fits” and pros and cons for Military Park and the other possible sites that were considered.

HBM Architects’ findings are a result of discussions with the City/Library Committee, input from the community and our own professional review and considerations. Our recommendation to the City Council and the Library Board is that the Military Park site is the best suitable site for the new Newton Public Library.

The Library’s connection with the community started with books and has expanded to be so much more. With the impact of technology and changing needs for how people interact and share, libraries are at an exciting crossroads. We know the library has gone from being book centric to people centric; from book storage centered to book use centered. Libraries are no longer places to only search and discover existing information but to generate information and create content in a variety of digital and physical forms. Libraries assist customers in pursuing and displaying their own ideas, concepts, and creative pursuits expressing themselves by creating films, animations, music, self-publishing, making 3-D objects, and provide hands-on learning for everything from cooking techniques and gardening to fitness and mindfulness. Libraries have continued to evolve and reinvent themselves to better serve, advance, and define their communities. Designing innovative and inspired spaces that can anticipate and adapt to changes in technology, community interests, service delivery methods, and needs will best position libraries for the future. A new Library situated near the Core Downtown area of Newton on a site with common civic importance will be of tremendous value to the citizens of Newton Kansas.

The Military Park site meets the 3 most important criteria (as ranked by community input) of convenience and ease of access, adequate parking and close to the downtown area. In fact, it meets all of the criteria established to the greatest degree with the exception of the criteria of being close to residential development.

However, the criteria of being close to residential development was deemed of very little importance in the selection by community input. In addition, we believe building a new library on the Military Park site will enhance an already important core element in the City and in our opinion will improve access, use, and the beauty of Military Park. In the prior design a larger building was planned – planning at this time suggested a smaller initial building footprint which will allow more green space to remain as part of the park. This site is also right at the core of all current residential homesites which will allow the greatest of access to current and arguably future community members. Our decision was also based on the fact that many of the other sites lacked cohesion with the selection criteria in various ways and would produce a building and site layout that would be less than ideal.

Library patrons use their smartphones to give feedback on possible library sites during one of two community meetings held Oct. 30.
Library patrons use their smartphones to give feedback on possible sites during one of two community meetings held Oct. 30. Military Park was the top choice for a new library site among those who attended the meetings.