King County bond would fund new Snoqualmie library

SNOQUALMIE - The King County Library System (KCLS) is planning to put a bond before voters this September that, if approved, would build new libraries in Snoqualmie and other Valley locations.

KCLS President Bill Ptacek said the library system's board likely will vote at its March 3 meeting to put out a bond this fall that would replace a 1988 operations bond. He said the money garnered from the bond, the amount of which has not yet been determined, would pay for KCLS capital expenses at all its 43 branches throughout King County for the next 10 years.

"All signs point to us doing that [placing a bond on the September ballot]," he said. "This is a vote to continue the legacy of great support we have enjoyed."

Pending a final site selection process, the new Snoqualmie library would probably be in the city's Snoqualmie Ridge neighborhood. New libraries would also be planned for Fall City, Carnation and Duvall between 2006-2008.

Snoqualmie Library Advisory Board President Tony Yanez told the Snoqualmie City Council at its Feb. 9 meeting that the group had met with officials from KCLS who said it would try to build a 6,000-square-foot facility in Snoqualmie by 2007 with money from a voter-approved bond. KCLS also indicated possible later expansion to 10,000 square feet.

Although the final location would not be finalized until after the bond passed, a site selection committee has narrowed the field of nine potential sites down to five. The initial nine sites included the library's present location on Southeast River Street, the community center site on Southeast Ridge Street, parcel T on Douglas Avenue and the neighborhood center site in the Snoqualmie Ridge retail area at the intersection of Southeast Ridge Street and Center Boulevard. Locations on Snoqualmie Parkway, including the Snoqualmie Ridge Home Finding Center, the municipal campus site and the undeveloped parcels, S11, S12 and S23 in Snoqualmie Ridge Phase II, were also discussed.

After a site selection process that took into account visibility, capacity, access, centrality, infrastructure, cost and availability, that list of nine was whittled down to the community center site, the neighborhood center site, parcel T, which is across the street from the home finding center, and two Snoqualmie Ridge Phase II sites, S11 and S12.

Yanez said any historic site would have a problem being considered by KCLS because of its location in the floodway and its proximity to the library branch in North Bend.

Mayor Fuzzy Fletcher said he would have liked to have seen a downtown location be considered.

"I have always wanted the library to expand onto the old fire station site [Southeast River Street] once the fire department moves to its new building and I have been ready to ask council to donate the land that the station now sits on to the library system for this purpose," said Fletcher in an e-mail. "The KCLS says this three-quarter city block site won't work, so we will look at other city uses for this site. As far as other locations, at this point it does not really make a difference to me personally, as long as the citizens have access to the library."

Yanez and Ptacek said that while there has been a preliminary site selection process, new parcels of land could make themselves available in the future once the library system gets farther into the process.

Ptacek said this year's bond, unlike previous bonds, would seek to gather enough money for the library system to acquire land and build a new facility. In the past, Ptacek said, KCLS thought it would be better to lease a space for the branch. Not so this year.

Whether or not the city would help donate land is a question it may consider. The only parcel of land Snoqualmie would have to offer is the community center site on Southeast Ridge Street. Councilman Matt Larson said the site may be overcrowded if it is to accommodate both the library and a pool that may come with a future community center, but he is willing to explore any option that makes the library more accessible.

Fletcher said he doesn't believe the city should pay any of the costs of moving the library and that a site should be chosen before September.

"If they [KCLS] want to move it, they can pay the freight. I do believe a site should be designated before they ask taxpayers for the money through a bond, as I believe where they site it will affect the outcome of the bond," he stated in the e-mail. "I support the library, just not the move from downtown."

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