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Kids cramped for library space

Virginia Seefeld and her daughter, Hallie, draw bugs during a children’s event at the Coupeville Public Library. The children have dealt with cramped space. Officials hope voters will approve a pair of resolutions next month that will fund expansion of the library building. - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Virginia Seefeld and her daughter, Hallie, draw bugs during a children’s event at the Coupeville Public Library. The children have dealt with cramped space. Officials hope voters will approve a pair of resolutions next month that will fund expansion of the library building.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Voters decide on $2.3 million bond

Last week, nearly 50 children and 17 adults squeezed into the children’s room at the Coupeville Public Library to participate in the Wednesday afternoon children’s activity.

While the children spent a fun and educational afternoon elbow to elbow making “bug” pizzas, bug mallows, and insect prints, the event also showed how cramped it can get in the Coupeville Library.

To provide more space for the increasing crowds, Sno-Isle Libraries is running two election proposals that would allow for a renovation that would basically double the size of the library.

Lila Hutson takes her grandchildren, Jacob and Alex, to the Coupeville Library every week for activities.

“They have such wonderful programs and they need the space for the kids,” Hutson said as her grandkids were putting the finishing touches on their pizzas.

Jennifer Kastner also noted the tight quarters during the “Munch a Buncha Bugs” event.

“Every program here is cramped for space,” Kastner said while helping her son, Eli, with his pizza. She often takes Eli up to the Oak Harbor Library because it provides more space for activities.

Branch Manager Leslie Franzen said recent events have seen similar numbers of children attending each week.

Adults also make extensive use of the 2,660-square-foot building. Between 15 and 70 adults attend events that often take place in the building’s main room.

The number of people using the library has increased over the years. One recent day, July 23, approximately 400 people went through the library’s doors.

If voters approve, the library will be expanded to 5,400 square-feet, providing a public meeting space, space for additional computers and more public seating.

Voters will have to approve two measures Aug. 19 for the renovation to happen. The first would approve creating a library capital facilities area which comprises the boundaries of the Coupeville School District. To be approved, it has to pass by a 50 percent majority.

The second measure would be to consider a $2.3 million bond that would pay for renovation and expansion of the library. To be approved, it has to pass by a 60 percent supermajority.

The tax increase would cost an estimated 7 cents per $1,000 assessed property value. For a person owning a 300,000 home, the bond would cost them $21 a year.

The groundbreaking for the expansion would take place in 2009 and the project would be complete sometime in 2010. Franzen said there will be a temporary location set up during construction.

With ballots heading out to voters this week, library supporters are busy getting the word out to Central Whidbey voters. Franzen said she’s made 18 presentations to community groups since March. That’s not including chance meetings with folks in the community.

“Everywhere I go, I talk about it,” Franzen said.

Sno-Isle Libraries is also holding a community meeting today, July 30, 6:30 p.m., at the Coupeville Library located at 788 NW Alexander. Library officials will speak again during the League of Women Voters candidate night held Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Rec Hall.

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