It appears that leadership with the Spokane County Library District isn’t convinced that the third time would be the charm for a new main library branch.
While members of the Spokane Valley City Council pleaded for SCLD to give another bond vote a shot Tuesday night, Nancy Ledeboer, executive director of the district, said board members are ready to move on after the latest rejection of a $22 million bond in August. Voters neared 58-percent approval for the effort – which would have built a new main library at an expanded Balfour Park across from the former University City, a new branch in Greenacres along with renovations and expansion at the Argonne branch – but it wasn’t the 60-percent supermajority needed for passage.
A previous bond vote in 2014 also failed, but did exceed 50-percent approval.
“While there is public support for a new library, voters don’t want to pay more money for a new building,” Ledeboer told the council, who added the library district will focus on upgrades to the existing Valley branch on Main Avenue.
Ledeboer asked the council if the city would move ahead with its prior agreement to buy back the land it sold the library district on which to build a new Sprague Avenue main branch. SCLD paid $839,285 to Spokane Valley on the condition it would break ground on a building by 2017.
Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard said he would support buying the property back but expressed disappointment.
“I would have preferred that you were here to ask for an extension on the 2017 date,” Woodard told Ledeboer. “I really would ask that you reconsider.”
Council Member Chuck Hafner said he is also “highly disappointed” as he was involved with the effort for the library bond approval.
“It’s too bad that more people didn’t think it was more important,” he said.
Tim Hattenburg, who serves on the SCLD board of trustees, said there was more support in the Greenacres area for a new library on Conklin Road and voter-approval was up to 65 percent in that neighborhood.
“There’s a new, younger demographic there,” he said.
Mayor Dean Grafos – in his last meeting in that role – said that there was time for the SCLD trustees to reconsider.
“We’re not going to reconfigure that park land tomorrow,” he said.
The meeting was also the last for Council Member Ben Wick, who lost to incoming Council Member Sam Wood in the November general election. Wood will be sworn into office on Jan. 5 at 5:45 p.m. before the regular council meeting.
Also at the meeting, Grafos – who has served as mayor for two years -- will hand over the gavel to a new mayor to be nominated and elected among council members. A new deputy mayor will also be chosen under Spokane Valley’s council-manager form of government.