Opinion

Election 2004: Library site stunts growth

Initially, I want to state my support for a larger, more capable library for Oak Harbor/North Whidbey residents. After considering the planning for the current bond issue, however, there are several important reasons I cannot support it.

Based on information provided by library representatives at the public meeting on August 17, at Island County’s assessors office, the current library plan is not adequately considering taxpayer cost, future growth and site location problems.

For example, why should taxpayers pay over $2 million more to have a library located in already one of the most congested areas of town? How will the library expand in the future; as we all know will be required. Why does the proposed library budget already include hundreds of thousands more for the downtown property than the county assessor’s estimated/assessed value? Check to see who owns the property and the adjacent area.

Library representatives stated new books for the library are included in the budget, but no line item identifying this was in the $12 million budget provided at the public meeting. This significant cost was brushed aside with the comment that the book funding was in there somewhere.

No financing or long term planning was conducted which considered the old city maintenance yard, near downtown, as a library site. This site was simply disregarded when the city staff stated that the site needed environmental cleanup. Certainly it does, but what does that cost? I think much less than $2 million, but nobody even bothered to evaluate this objectively!

In summary, I respect and applaud the enthusiasm and dedication of the library planning committee. Their recommendations are not, however, based on objective facts and appear to have been influenced and altered for reasons other than the taxpayer’s best interests, through political interests.

Hopefully, the taxpayers will be provided a future opportunity to approve a bond issue much less costly that has inherently significant growth potential in its design and location.

Ginny Jones

Oak Harbor

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