Deschutes County voters in November will be asked to fund a $195 million bond measure to pay for a new Central Library while repairing and remodeling existing libraries across the area.
The Deschutes Public Library Board on Wednesday agreed to move forward with the plan, along with immediately spending $1.35 million for the land on which it plans to build the new main library in Bend.
It’s the first time in more than 20 years the library has requested public funding like this.
“After six months of careful analysis with the help of Brooks Resources and their team of experts, we feel this is an important and proactive step toward ensuring Deschutes Public Library’s ability to keep pace with the county’s projected growth,” said Martha Lawler, Deschutes Public Library Board President.
The bond would be a 20-year levy at 40 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, not market value. A home with an assessed value of $200,000 would pay $78 per year.
Library Director Todd Dunkelberg said that after six months of due diligence, it was clear that the land purchase is a fiscally wise move.
“The location meets all of our top criteria,” he said. “It is centrally and easily accessible from all areas of the county and is located near neighborhoods, schools, shopping and other important services. It’s difficult to find a large enough land parcel that meets all those requirements, so we feel confident about moving forward with this purchase.”
The 12.75-acre parcel purchased for the new library is located west of Highway 20 near Robal Road. The land was originally purchased by the Gumpert family in 1948.
The plan calls for a 95,000 to 115,000-square-foot facility, which would be significantly larger than the 34,000-square-feet flagship library in Downtown Bend.
The planned Central Library will serve all of Deschutes County, including a state-of-the-art learning center for children, flexible gathering spaces for a variety of purposes from business meetings/collaboration to study rooms for students to DIY activities, a technology hub and a performance and art space.
Library officials say the building will expand the space needed for additional books and materials to meet population growth and provide increased efficiency with a centralized materials handling system that will allow rapid distribution of materials throughout the county.
The bond is necessary to make it all happen.
“If it does not pass, the library would not be able to proceed with a majority of the projects,” Dunkelberg said. “It would be out of range of what we receive in tax income currently.”
Conceptual plans for the building have been developed in response to input from more than 5,000 county residents over the past several years.
The new building will include flexible spaces to adapt to different use patterns and needs.
“Our communities are facing strange and difficult times,” Dunkelberg said. “In hard times, the library has always been the place Deschutes County residents turn to when they need answers and information that can change and enrich their lives, from connection to employment and health resources, small business and legal information, family activities and, of course, resources for learning and entertainment. We believe we must continue to be sound fiscal stewards as we plan and prepare for a dynamic future to serve all of Deschutes County as we have done for the last 100 years.”
Libraries in Bend, La Pine, Sisters and Sunriver would undergo extensive renovations if the bond masses. The Redmond library would double in size.
Preview the library’s vision plan at: https://www.deschuteslibrary.org/about/visionprocess