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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: Library ballot measure in Spokane Valley deserves approval

Spokane Valley keeps growing, and its libraries need to grow with it.

Valley voters should have in their mailboxes ballots for an April 22 election. On it are two proposals, the first calling for the formation of a Spokane Valley Library Capital Facility Area, the second asking approval of a $22 million bond issue that would build two new libraries and expand a third.

Vote yes, and yes.

Information comes in many forms today, but new media have not written the epitaph of the brick-and-mortar libraries that have been the repositories of wisdom for millennia. Not only are they a source of knowledge in all its printed and electronic forms, libraries are community centers, employment bureaus and entertainment kiosks.

The Spokane Valley Library attracts 900 visitors daily and hosts 700 meetings a year. It was built in the 1950s, expanded in the 1980s, and cannot comfortably accommodate all users. Expansion on the same site makes no sense: Remodeling costs would equate to about 80 percent of a new building, and the branch would be out of commission while the work is done.

A proposed 30,000-square-foot replacement on a site across Sprague Avenue from the former University City Mall will have more room inside, more parking outside, and will share the site with an expanded Balfour Park. Libraries and parks are a great pair; the Coeur d’Alene and Shadle Park libraries, for example.

Estimated cost: $15 million.

Another new branch on Conklin Road would serve an area that supported an earlier, failed bond effort; one that includes seven schools within a 2-mile radius.

Estimated cost: $5 million.

And the existing Argonne branch serving Millwood would be remodeled and expanded by 6,000 square feet. It, like the main branch, is a community hub much used for meetings.

Estimated cost: $2 million.

For property owners within the capital facility area – and only those voters are receiving ballots – the cost will be about $14 per $100,000 valuation. That same $14 will buy one CD, or one-half a new hardback book.

The levy would remain in place for 20 years. Moran Prairie residents imposed the same kind of levy on themselves in 2003 to get a branch library built there.

In an information-driven society, libraries are critical access points. Like good schools, good libraries are the hallmark of communities that understand the importance of knowledge for a civil society and dynamic economy. A 60-year-old building with a 30-year-old facelift does not convey that concern, certainly not to anyone considering a move into the valley.

Spokane Valley Mayor Dean Grafos’ endorsement of the plan – speaking for himself, not the city – is an important show of support.

Passage of the levy will require a 60 percent supermajority. The proposed district was shaped to include those who would most benefit from the new facilities. Check “yes” on the ballot twice.

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