The last time the Spokane County Library District attempted to team up with the city of Spokane Valley, the results were less than stellar.
In March 2008, the SCLD was crushed at the polls when voters refused to support a $33.4 million bond that would have funded a new library on property at Sprague and University. Gaining only 45.5-percent support, many library officials saw the negativity directed less at them and more at the city’s Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan and a proposed “city center,” complete with a new City Hall, where the library would be located.
That was then, and this is now.
Last week, Tim Hattenburg, chairman of the library district board of trustees, appeared before the City Council with a new idea: partnering for a land on the north side of Sprague at Herald Road that would be divided between the library and the city, which could expand Balfour Park to the west.
The amount the district would be looking to voters to fund is $50 million this time around, which would pay for a badly needed new Spokane Valley Library on the land plus other new library construction projects throughout the county.
A vote, however, likely wouldn’t come until 2015 in order to take advantage of – hopefully – a better economy.
The majority of the council members, however, seemed like they couldn’t wait to get started.
“I think we have to go while the iron’s hot,” said Council Member Chuck Hafner.
Council Member Arne Woodard said an expanded Balfour Park could provide space for car shows.
“It’s the center of the city,” he said, adding it could be Spokane Valley’s own Riverfront Park.
Hattenburg said the idea is for the library to build a $50,000-square-foot facility on the western portion of the land, which would include a 200-seat auditorium, conference rooms and study areas. The too-small existing library on Main would be closed, he said.
However, since the library doesn’t need the entire eight-acre piece of land – which is owned by Jack Pring, who was in attendance at the meeting but did not comment on the issue -- the city could use the eastern portion of the property to expand Balfour Park. Pring has donated to the campaigns of the Positive Change-dominated council. Only the newest council member, Ben Wick, has not received money from Pring.
It was Wick who noted the city should consider all its options before moving forward.
“Is it the best win on our side?” Wick asked, adding that there had been no mention of what the cost to the city might be. “This is a good solution, but maybe there’s a better one out there.”
Mayor Tom Towey said that city staff should get more information and “start the dialogue.” It’s likely the subject will be revisited at the Feb. 7 daylong City Council retreat set for CenterPlace.