A year ago, it appeared the continuing saga to build new Spokane Valley library across from the soon-to-be-completed City Hall --- at the old University City shopping center on Sprague Avenue -- had reached its end.
Voters had already turned down two bond requests by not reaching the necessary 60-percent supermajority. And members of the Spokane County Library board of trustees had grown frustrated in efforts to build a new facility to replace the aging Spokane Valley Library at 12004 E. Main. They wanted the city to return the nearly $840,000 the district had paid to the city for the land at Sprague and Herald Road where the library would be constructed and tie in to a proposed future Balfour Park expansion.
Spokane Valley City Council members, however, agreed late last year to soldier on and work with the library district to see if there was any way the partnership could continue. An ad hoc committee was formed between both camps to explore if some new ideas could emerge.
On Tuesday, council members heard that in the five times the committee has met, it has come up with a new plan to extend the 2012 agreement for another five years – otherwise the city would have to repay SCLD in October – and attempt to scale back the amount property owners would have to pay from the prior bond request of $22 million in 2015.
The suggestion is that the city and SCLD each pay a $1.3 million investment to lower the bond request. The city’s portion would come from the banked $840,000 from the land purchase and an additional $461,000 from the general fund, which has not been budgeted as of yet, for an approximately 25,000-square-foot structure.
The library district’s portion would come from prior acquisition costs of the Sprague Avenue property and an additional purchase near Conklin Road on Sprague Avenue for a second, smaller library branch.
While the council reached consensus to consider a vote on the agreement at its July 25 meeting, some reluctance was expressed by at least one council member who feels it might be best if the city moves on from the idea.
“I’ve been thinking about wants and needs,” said Council Member Caleb Collier. “This seems like a want. We could utilize that money in a better manner. I’m going to vote no when this comes up.”
If efforts to build a new library fail, a decision will have to be made what to do with the city-owned adjoining property west of Balfour Park. The 8.4 acres of land was purchased from Pring Corp. for $2.5 million in 2012 for the park’s expansion.