Earlier this year, the Spokane Valley City Council was chomping at the bit to move forward with a partnership with the Spokane County Library District to develop and expand Balfour Park with a new library.
Last week, however, library officials told the council they still want to work together – but the library may not be as grand as initially proposed.
The news will give council members and city officials plenty to consider as they continue to move forward with plans to purchase the land east of Herald Road on Sprague Avenue.
At their Aug. 14 meeting, council members once again heard from SCLD representatives, who said that initial plans for a two-story, 50,000-square-foot library with a 200-seat auditorium for the western portion of the property is being scaled down to a 30,000-square-foot, rancher-style motif.
“We still will have all the services we had proposed with this,” said Nancy Ledeboer, library district director, who added the one-story design is more economical and makes more efficient use of floor space.
The plan is for the city to buy the eight acres of property from Jack Pring, prominent Spokane Valley businessman, and then for the library district to reimburse the city for the portion of the land it will use, pending bond-sale approval from voters. The city, in turn, would expand Balfour Park to the east.
A review of the plans, though, revealed space being wasted for stairs, elevators and otherwise empty areas, Ledeboer said. And while the auditorium would be eliminated, there would still be a 100-seat meeting room – more versatile than a theater-setting -- that would be available for larger gatherings.
The existing Spokane Valley Library on Main Avenue west of Pines would not be mothballed; instead, it would be used for storage and as a service center.
SCLD is also proposing to build two more libraries in Spokane Valley, should the future bond request pass. A 12,000-to15,000-square foot facility would be constructed on Conklin Road and another in the southern portion of the city.
Council Member Chuck Hafner said passage of the bond – which likely won’t see a vote until at least 2015 – are “a lot better improved” by scaling back the Balfour proposal and the additional libraries in other areas of the city.
“I like the open concept you’ve presented to us,” Hafner said.
Mayor Tom Towey, though, said he needs more time to sift through the new information presented to the council.
“We have had information that has been different than tonight,” he said. “I think we would be wise to step back and take a look at it and then come back and make a decision.”