Deschutes Public Library bond passes; new central library and remodels on tap

Deschutes County voters on Tuesday approved a $195 million bond measure to pay for a new Central Library while repairing and remodeling existing libraries across the county.

The measure passed with 52% of the vote.

“After six years of planning and meeting with more than 6,000 community members, we are very pleased to put our vision into action and provide outstanding library spaces and services for decades to come,” said Library Director Todd Dunkelberg. “We are eager to create designs to update and expand buildings and services to better serve all residents throughout Deschutes County.”

It’s the first time in more than 20 years the library has requested public funding like this.

The 20-year levy will cost 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.

Earlier this year the library spent $1.35 million for some land on the north end of Bend to build the new main library.

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 library’s master 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.

“This extraordinary victory is the culmination of many years of gathering community input, analyzing alternatives, and creating a strategic plan to meet the current and future needs of our customers,” said Deschutes Public Library Board President Martha Lawler. “We are grateful the residents of Deschutes County share and understand our vision and we thank them for their support. We are excited to continue to transform lives in Deschutes County.”

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

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