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Murray Journal

Murray City’s potential move: A new chapter for library and senior center

Nov 07, 2023 01:21PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Two diagrams of a potential facility that would house the library and senior recreation center. (Photo courtesy of Murray City)

How should Murray City address its aging senior recreation center and the issue of a library located on school district property? To explore potential solutions, Murray City ordered a feasibility study to determine if both the library and the recreation center could be combined into a single building. During the Sept. 19 Committee of the Whole Meeting, the city council reviewed a report outlining the possibilities and practicalities of such a consolidation.

Presenting the findings was Jeff Davis from MSR Design, an architecture firm with experience in creating combined library and senior center facilities. Introduced by Murray Library Director Kim Fong, Davis laid out the proposal: the new Murray City Library might be constructed on the current site of the Murray Senior Recreation Center, aiming to house both facilities under one roof.

“This is not a merger,” Murray City Chief Communications Officer Tammy Kikuchi said. “Rather, the city is looking at the possibility of joining the two facilities to capture economies of scale.”

Two main objectives underpin the proposed unification. The first is a more efficient use of space, which could lead to reduced construction and operational costs. The second is to provide shared areas that both the library and the senior center could make use of, such as community event spaces, restrooms, staff areas, and possibly a shared entrance.

“The senior center is overdue for an update and facelift,” Kikuchi said. “The library is facing a decision about its current location.”

From numerous designs evaluated, two primary options emerged as the most feasible:

Option 1: This involves razing the current senior recreation center to build the new joint facility on the same site. This approach, carrying a projected cost of $60.7 million, would require the senior center to relocate temporarily during the estimated 18-24 month construction phase.

Option 2: This option proposes building the new structure while keeping the existing senior center operational. Once the new facility is ready, the old center would be dismantled to create space, possibly for parking. The estimated cost for this approach stands at $62.5 million.

Both models showcase dedicated spaces for each facility, shared spaces, main street access, and parking solutions. A notable feature in the potential design is a two-story structure with a unified entrance. Additional amenities like an outdoor plaza and pickle ball courts have also been considered.

“There are similar facilities. Millcreek has a library and fitness center. West Jordan has a library and convention center,” Kikuchi said.

However, the discussion also acknowledged challenges. Parking, in particular, was highlighted as a concern. The close proximity of a four-diamond ball field to the west could influence parking availability and traffic patterns. The feasibility of underground parking was also touched upon, though such a feature could have financial implications.

On the financial front, the sizeable projected costs initiated a conversation about potential bonding methods. An interesting point brought up during the meeting was the current size of the Murray City Library, which is reportedly half of what might be ideal for the city’s population. Additionally, the current library building does not own the land it sits on. To contribute to the project, Fong confirmed an existing reserve of $3 million from the library.

To address the financial considerations, Davis introduced the possibility of seeking philanthropic funding. If pursued, significant funds might be secured from various organizations and donors.

“The city is simply exploring this possibility to see if it makes sense,” Kikuchi said.

The recent council meeting was a comprehensive assessment of the potential project, reflecting Murray City’s due diligence in urban planning and allocation of resources. The proposed merger of two significant community spaces into one presents logistical and financial considerations that the city will need to weigh carefully.

“No decision has been made. Obviously, if a plan evolves, it will be presented to the public for input and the council,” Kikuchi said.