May 18, 2007 in City

Proposal for Valley’s new library finishes up

By The Spokesman-Review

If you go

What: The library district will hold another open house to gather comments on a proposal to build a new library in Spokane Valley.

When: 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Spokane Valley Library meeting room

More information:

In a windowless, overbooked meeting room in the basement of a library with wait times for computers that can last hours, librarians asked patrons for their thoughts on a plan to replace the Spokane Valley Library with a building more than twice its size.

“When the doors open, there will be a lot more there,” said Spokane County Library District Director Mike Wirt at a workshop Thursday.

After months of surveys, focus groups and the help of an architect, the district is in the final stages of proposing a new Valley library to take to voters.

Five study rooms, large areas for children’s activities, three times as many Internet computers and stacks with 52,000 new books in addition to the current collection would fill two floors, with room for the collection to expand.

The old meeting room – where car clubs, beekeepers, quilters, the city’s first meetings, as well as gatherings of Valley disincorporation supporters took place – would be replaced with one that could be split into two rooms next to a separate 200-seat auditorium.

“Libraries are becoming a place where there’s a sense of community established,” Wirt said, elaborating that libraries are increasingly becoming a neutral, free place for people to gather or just hang out.

In total, the district is looking at building a 58,600-square-foot library at a cost of $24 million.

In addition to new amenities for patrons, the space would allow the collection to expand with the demand for new materials, said regional library manager Ellen Miller.

“People are going to have to use this building for 50 years or more,” she said.

It would be paid for with bonds raised in a special tax district that would likely include Spokane Valley, its outlying neighborhoods, Millwood and possibly the unincorporated areas around Liberty Lake.

Using the same mechanism that funded the new library on Moran Prairie, a property tax of 19 cents per $1,000 of assessed value would be charged. That equals a payment of $38 per year for a house worth $200,000.

“The money is not out of proportion for today’s world,” said Mary Lloyd, a Spokane Valley resident who joined the library board in January.

“This will meet the needs we have now and future needs,” she said.

The library can’t expand any further on its current lot, library officials say, and they are proposing to replace it completely on 1.5 acres somewhere else.

“The site is a big deal,” Wirt said.

The architect can’t move ahead and actually design the building without it, and Wirt said the address will be a big factor to voters as they consider whether or not to support the project.

Although they have been eager to build a new library as soon as possible in the face of rising construction costs, library board members are trying to coordinate with Spokane Valley to locate the library in a proposed city center near Sprague Avenue and University Road.

City Council members have said they are also keenly interested in including the library as an “anchor” building in the new urban center, although the city’s timeline seems to be much longer than the library district’s.

If locating in the city center doesn’t work out, another site near Sprague east of Bowdish could be pursued, according to the district’s Web site.

Once the location is selected, the district hopes to bring the issue before voters during a Feb. 5 election next year, with the library opening in 2010 if the measure passes.

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