▶️ Deschutes Public Library withdraws plan for new ‘Central Library’

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Plans for the much-discussed, voter-approved Central Library are on hold after the Deschutes Public Library withdraws text amendment and map filings.

The text amendment was the first step in annexing land on Bend’s north end.

But as Central Oregon Daily News reported last week, the city council didn’t support the library’s request for an exception to develop the property near Robal Road and Hwy. 20.

The Deschutes Public Library’s withdrawal of its proposed map and text amendments for its proposed Central Library location puts a wrinkle in voter-approved plans to improve several libraries in the region.

“We will be constructing our new library in Redmond. We will be remodeling all of our branch libraries,” said Todd Dunkelberg, Deschutes Public Library Director. “This will delay our ability to do any upgrades to our east Bend or Downtown Bend library because those are dependent on having a Central Library.”

“The other part of the bond was that we promised voters we would construct a Central Library, and we will continue with that. We will have to regroup as a board and figure out what that is going to look like.”

The library district considered three ways to obtain approvals to build the proposed central library on the 12-acre parcel inside the urban growth boundary but not yet planned for development by the city. 

The district decided to seek a proposed text amendment that would have allowed a public agency like the library to begin development inside the urban growth boundary without an area plan or a master plan.

The City of Bend Planning Commission recommended approval of the library’s text and map amendments, but a majority of city councilors did not support them. 

“It was an awkward discussion. We were being asked to make exceptions to the rule, knowing that this area doesn’t have sewer or water,” said Mayor Sally Russell. “The master planning at 40 acres is very intentional. This is a really valuable area that we brought into our urban growth boundary. We want to be sure the planning is done for it really well.”

Dunkelberg said the library project is a public benefit to the entire community.

“To delay it, that harms our community and so that is frustrating,” he said. “We have to remember what our aspirations were when we went into this: That is to deliver world-class service to our community.”

Had the library district firmed up entitlements on the parcel before it was purchased, Mayor Russell said there might have been a better path forward.

Deschutes Library Communications & Development Manager Chantal Strobel said Mayor Russell’s statement about no water or sewer to the site is incorrect. “The library’s site has direct access to water/sewer which the City of Bend planning staff have confirmed twice. The library made sure the site was ready for development and consulted with the City of Bend’s staff to confirm two times that the water/sewer capacity was available.”

Dunkelberg says he wants voters to know their support for a central library will be honored but it will take up to a year longer than originally planned.

 

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