Landon Laplaunt, 2, takes his turn decorating a felt dog as the room applauds during Ready Readers: Toddler Storytime hosted by the Lake Stevens Library at the neighboring Community Center on Tuesday. The library uses the large space in the community center for events and readings. (Daniella Beccaria / The Herald)

Landon Laplaunt, 2, takes his turn decorating a felt dog as the room applauds during Ready Readers: Toddler Storytime hosted by the Lake Stevens Library at the neighboring Community Center on Tuesday. The library uses the large space in the community center for events and readings. (Daniella Beccaria / The Herald)

After election, Lake Stevens Library awaits next chapter

LAKE STEVENS — Sno-Isle Libraries administrators and trustees are working to decide what’s next for the Lake Stevens Library.

It’s one of the smallest libraries in the Sno-Isle system but serves the fifth-largest city in Snohomish County. It’s a hub for family activities and community programs, though many take place in a neighboring community center because space in the library is limited. City and library officials for years have advocated for a larger space.

There were two measures on the Feb. 14 ballot that needed to pass to build a new library. The first was a proposal to form a new taxing district, called a capital facilities area, within the same boundaries as the Lake Stevens School District. That passed with 69 percent of the vote.

The second request was for the money to build a new library. The vision was a library on Chapel Hill that would be eight times the size of the current location at North Cove. The price tag was $17 million.

The bond got 66 percent of the vote. Bonds also have a turnout requirement of at least 40 percent of voters in the most recent election.

The bond measure needed 8,464 ballots to come in. It fell 749 short.

“We’re really disappointed it didn’t pass,” Lake Stevens Mayor John Spencer said. “I think we all knew it would be a big hill to climb with the 40 percent when our last election was a presidential election.”

The library district could go out for another bond now that the facilities area has been created, Snohomish County elections manager Garth Fell said.

Moving forward, the mayor thinks the focus should be on a new bond campaign. The 40 percent requirement will remain in place, so voter turnout needs to be a priority.

“We can lament the fact that we came up 700-some votes short, but that’s the standard,” he said.

At a meeting Monday, the Sno-Isle Board of Trustees got an update on the election results, spokesman Jim Hills said. The plan is for Sno-Isle Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory to meet with groups such as the Friends of the Library to talk about the election and what is needed to move forward. After those talks, she’ll come back to the trustees for a decision on whether to put another bond measure out and, if so, whether it would be the same as the request on the Feb. 14 ballot.

The next opportunity to get something on the ballot would be the Aug. 1 election, Hills said. Trustees would need to make a decision by mid-May in order to submit a measure in time.

Though the ballot count came up short, the support was strong among those who did vote. Sno-Isle still plans to bring Lake Stevens a library that will meet the growing community’s needs, Hills said.

“It was really exciting to see the support and the approval rate for the bond measure,” he said. “It’s disappointing to come so close to validating but not quite getting over that hump, but … it’s a solid foundation for community support for a new library in Lake Stevens.”

If the Feb. 14 bond had passed, the plan was to have a library open by early 2019 after planning, design and a year-long build.

It’s unclear how soon a library could open if another bond measure goes to voters this year. Construction schedules can vary based on seasonal work requirements and regional demands on contractors and supplies.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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