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Voters weighing in on bigger, newer libraries
By JODY ALLARD
Voters heading to the polls Tuesday will decide the
fate of a $158 million bond that includes an
expansion and a replacement of the two public library branches in
If Proposition 1 passes, the King County
Library System will issue a series of bonds maturing
within 20 years to generate $158 million for capital
improvements to existing libraries and the
construction of new facilities countywide.
In Federal Way, the Regional Library Branch on First
Way South is slated to begin a $5.6 million upgrade in
2007. Among the planned improvements is a
The South 320th Street branch, built in 1969, is scheduled
for replacement in 2008. The proposed bonds would fund the
construction at the same location of a new facility that would be 4,000 square feet larger. The cost of the replacement is
estimated at $6 million.
Libraries were selected for improvements based on
community input and staff recommendations.
"This whole plan was designed around meeting the needs
of the growing community," said Julie
Wallace, manager of communications for the countywide library system.
The branch on South 320th was selected for replacement
for two reasons, Wallace said: Its size
is simply not adequate to meet the needs of the
library's patrons, and the cost of maintaining
the building -- one of the library system's oldest --
is more than the cost of building a new facility.
Of primary concern to the branch's patrons are the
close proximity of computer terminals to study and
"We get a lot of people in here every day using
computers and using the library to read and to study, and sometimes
those activities going on at the same time can
interfere with each other," said branch manager John
Concerns over lack of computers and more space to use
them were key points during a November public
meeting the branch held to gain input from its
patrons, officials said.
An insufficient number of public meeting rooms to meet
the growing demand is also a problem, said Sheller.
The financial impact of the bond for King County
homeowners would be relatively slim. Officials
estimate the cost would be approximately 8 cents per $1,000 of assessed
valuation. For instance, the owner of a $200,000 home would pay
approximately $16 per year; a $300,000 home would be
assessed approximately $24 per year.
With the library system struggling to cope with a 40
percent increase in use over the last 10 years,
officials say the bond is necessary to maintain the
services patrons have come to expect.
At the South 320th branch, where the amount of items
checked out increased 7 percent last year alone,
Sheller said that despite the $158 million price tag,
patrons have been "very supportive" of Proposition 1.
Staff writer Jody Allard can be reached at 925-5565