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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

CdA library a wise investment

The Spokesman-Review

If you’re a Coeur d’Alene resident looking for an excuse to vote against the $3 million library bond, you can find one.

You could question the downtown location of the proposed library.

You can hold library boosters hostage to an old promise that they wouldn’t seek public funding.

One thing you can’t do, however, is deny that booming Coeur d’Alene needs a new library. The city outgrew the cramped library on Harrison Avenue 15 years ago. While Post Falls and Hayden were building or expanding libraries, Lake City library staff has worked wonders despite limited space for books, programs, computers and children’s activities.

A successful library bond would enable staffers to do much more at little cost to taxpayers – $1.29 per month for an average home valued at $150,000. That cost will go up in the future should the bond be defeated. The need is there. The price is right. The project will meet the community’s library needs well into the 21st century and deserves public support at the polls.

Every yes vote will be important because the bond election requires a two-thirds supermajority for passage.

For a $3 million investment, Coeur d’Alene will gain a $6.6 million library – thanks to the fund-raising work by library supporters, who have raised about $970,000 in cash and pledges. They intend to raise another $250,000 to $300,000. The city already has purchased the site for the property, north of City Hall, adjacent to McEuen Field. Sale of the current library should provide the remaining money for the project.

The only two arguments against the library involve location and the broken promise.

Unquestionably, the library is far from the center of town. Then, so is Lake Coeur d’Alene – and nobody complains about driving five extra minutes to play in the water on a sunny summer afternoon or on the softball diamonds of McEuen Field nearby. A good argument can be made that the new facility will serve children in the lowest income sector of Lake City. Residents on the north end of town always have the option of obtaining cards that are good at both the Hayden and Coeur d’Alene libraries.

The broken promise is harder to address. At one time, library supporters pledged they wouldn’t use tax dollars to construct a new building – before reality set in. They’ve tried to raise millions for the project and should be applauded for collecting almost $1 million. They realize now they can’t raise the full amount. Even if the boosters could keep their crusade going for years to collect the rest, they’d be thwarted by rising construction and inflation costs. They were wise to scale back their project from three stories to two and to turn to the public.

A new library will be a source of community pride for decades to come.

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