New KCLS Snoqualmie library likely to come in 2009

SNOQUALMIE - The King County Library System's (KCLS) timeline to open a new library in Snoqualmie had been set to as late as 2009.

KCLS plans to build the new library, and several others, if it passes a $172-million replacement bond this September. Since this year's proposed bond is similar to one proposed last year that failed, a timeline for building a new Snoqualmie library was simply extended one year to 2007.

But at a presentation before the Snoqualmie City Council on April 12, representatives from KCLS said they wanted to give a more conservative estimate as to when the new 6,000-square-foot library could be built.

"We don't want to promise something we can't do," said KCLS Director Bill Ptacek.

Ptacek said that the Snoqualmie branch is the second-least used branch in the library system, and that it uses more revenues than it provides. He said that a new, state-of-the-art facility with high visibility would help boost its use.

"We would like this library to come out from behind its shell," he said.

While the City Council expressed its desire to see a new library built, it was leery of pushing back an estimated completion date and delaying the decision of where the library would go. A recent site feasibility exercise undertook by the city's Library Advisory Board identified ideal parcels of land in the city for the new library. Some of the sites, all in the Snoqualmie Ridge neighborhood, have since been deemed not available for use or will likely be snatched up as the Snoqualmie Ridge development continues to grow.

Ptacek said finding a site would be a priority for KCLS once the bond is passed this fall.

Councilman Matt Larson said he worried the city and library would be involved in a "Catch-22," where Snoqualmie voters couldn't support a bond the KCLS didn't yet know exactly how to spend. Both the city and KCLS said the size and accessibility of the library will be important since the library will act as a center for the community as well as a place to check out books.

"I've met with people at the library in Snoqualmie before," said Councilman Jeff MacNichols after the meeting. "There are so many young families coming to that area [Snoqualmie Ridge]."

Sandra Brownrigg, president of the KCLS support group Friends of the Snoqualmie Library, said her group will be working to pass the bond and smooth over any uneasiness about the library moving from its present location on River Street in historic Snoqualmie to the Snoqualmie Ridge neighborhood. She said the group has been talking to the Mount Si Senior Center about the possibility of providing librarians with tokens for free rides to the library that can be given to patrons who need a ride. Moving a library from its original location can be a saddening event for the a community, Brownrigg said, and maintaining a way everyone in and out of Snoqualmie can continue to access it is vital.

"A library is an asset to the whole community, not just Snoqualmie," she said.

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