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Both of our existing library buildings are out of date and do not meet current or future user needs. We asked the library users what they wanted to see in an updated library, and they told us that it should be a center for lifelong learning, a hub for technology and a gathering place for collaboration, connection and growth. These added demands on public library space require all new facilities.
In June of 2017, Mr. John Arrillaga came forward with a generous offer: If the City paid the first $20 million of construction costs for a new Main Library, he would pay the rest. It is anticipated that constructing a new Main Library could cost as much as $60 million. On the basis of public feedback, the City Council asked staff to plan new facilities for both the Main Library and the Belle Haven branch.
Library staff sought community input during the development of the Library Strategic Plan and the Library Space Needs Assessment and is currently doing the same regarding the siting and uses of the Main Library building. Please join us at one of the workshops to tell us your thoughts. Future meetings will be held to gather input from neighborhood residents for Belle Haven Library services and uses. Council also funded a community based needs assessment for the Belle Haven branch. That process is underway.
Staff estimates that in addition to the $20 million needed to trigger the Arrillaga donation, there could be up to an additional $10 million in soft costs paid by the City associated with a new Main Library. These costs would be for preparing the building site, relocating/reconstructing utilities, and outfitting the new facility with shelving and furniture. A cost estimate for a new Belle Haven Library has not yet been determined.
The City’s Finance and Audit Subcommittee recommended several options: using reserves and paying back the funds with an increase in transient occupancy taxes or utility users taxes; taking out a loan to fund the costs; placing a bond measure for the costs before the voters, or a combination of these.
Mr. Arrillaga’s gift enables the City to significantly leverage the money it spends toward a new Main Library facility; it is not transferable to other City projects. It also saves money by allowing the construction to begin sooner, as building costs increase over time.
Planning for the new branch library is proceeding along the same track as taken by the new Main Library, through conducting a Belle Haven Neighborhood Library Needs Assessment and forming a Belle Haven Neighborhood Library Advisory Committee. The Belle Haven Branch Library is located inside the Belle Haven Elementary School; since the City does not own the school grounds, a new location must be found. In the meantime, the City Council approved funds both for updates to the existing facility and its collections, and an increase in open hours and staffing.
The Main Library was originally constructed in 1957, and expanded and remodeled in 1967, 1991, and 2012. The large scale renovations needed under the current plan would cost nearly as much as a new facility.
There are no plans to reduce the size of the Main Library’s current collection; on the contrary, our new building will have more space for reading and sharing stories. A new library in Belle Haven will allow an increase in the size of the collection housed there now.
They could be. It's been suggested that a new main library building could include affordable housing or public meeting space. Join us at one of the public meetings being held soon - that's where we will gather input on possible additional uses.
Join us and share your thoughts. Public meetings to gather input on the new main library's siting and uses will be held on December 4, January 17, and February 15. The City is forming a Belle Haven Neighborhood Library Advisory Committee to assist with the process of building a new branch library, and you can volunteer through November 22 here. Check the project page for other ways to get involved.