Opinion

People of Coupeville spurred library election

Two years ago, we hosted a community meeting at the Coupeville Library to help us gather information to develop a library district-wide capital facilities plan. The comments we heard in Coupeville that night in the spring of 2006 set us on the course we are on today.

“We must expand this library or have new space.”

“What we get needs to work for us for a long time.”

“Our library is a community center.”

“Remodel our existing site rather than relocating.”

“Meeting room would be a big draw.”

These words from Coupeville residents spurred the Coupeville Library Board and the Sno-Isle Libraries to develop a proposal to expand and remodel the existing 20-year-old building. Our goal with this project is to provide library space to serve the community for the next 20 years.

The Coupeville Library is heavily used by residents of all ages. Children, teens, and seniors are part of a steady stream of people who claim the library as their own. The challenge we face is not having enough space to meet the increased demand for library service.

Next month, residents who live in the Coupeville School District have the opportunity to expand their library. Two ballot measures, one to form a special taxing district called a library capital facility area and one to provide $2.3 million in funding for a remodel and expansion, will be on the Aug. 19 ballot. If both of these measures pass, and both must pass to move forward, the Coupeville Library will double in size, from 2,600 square feet to 5,400 square feet. The number of public computers will increase from 10 to 18, and there will be twice as many places to study, use library materials, and relax with a book. And the oft-mentioned library programming room will become a reality.

The cost to taxpayers within the Coupeville School District will be approximately $21 a year for a home valued at $300,000.

Recently, we have received questions regarding the cost of the expansion, especially in comparison to the construction of a house or commercial space. Public libraries are not inexpensive to build, as not only are there substantial infrastructure expenses, but there are also other public policy works requirements:

* Public facilities require a public bidding process, including prevailing wage labor.

* Public buildings, like libraries, need to be built to withstand use by hundreds of people each day.

* Facilities built with your tax dollars must incorporate the most energy efficient systems in order to ensure cost-effective operation and maintenance for as long as the building is in use.

* Mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and technology systems are more complex.

The library capital facility area spreads the cost of paying for library construction among residents of the town, as well as residents in the surrounding area. In the case of Coupeville, everyone who lives within the Coupeville School District will be voting and potentially paying for the expansion. Your dollars, through this library bond measure, can and will only be used to fund library construction. As soon as the library bond is paid off, the capital facility area dissolves.

I encourage each of you to find out more about the library project. To help you get the information you need before Aug. 19, the Sno-Isle Libraries is hosting a community forum on the two ballot measures on Wednesday, July 30, at 6:30 p.m. in the Coupeville Library. You may also talk with library staff, or contact me at 800-342-1936 extension 7008 with questions.

The best vote you can cast is an informed vote.

Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory is library director of Sno-Isle Libraries.

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