Snohomish library land nearly at hand

By LESLIE MORIARTY

Herald Writer

SNOHOMISH — Agreements to purchase three acres of land where the new Snohomish library will be built are almost complete.

City Manager Bill McDonald said Monday that the city council has approved the purchase of a little more than an acre on Maple Avenue between Third and Fourth streets.

A second purchase is expected to soon close on another two acres adjacent to that along the west side of soon-to-be abandoned Burlington Northern railroad tracks.

The city purchased the former site of the Central Feed mill on Maple Avenue for $300,000 and has a firm price for the railroad property for $480,000.

McDonald said it is expected that the library will take about two acres, once parking and landscaping are included.

Voters in the Snohomish Library Capital Facilities area approved the sale of $8 million in bonds in September to buy the land and build and equip the new library. The area is generally the same area as the Snohomish Public School District.

McDonald said negotiations took several months, and the city got the best price possible. To compare, when voters in Monroe approved a new library last year, that city paid $1.02 million for three parcels. In Granite Falls, where another library is under design, property was donated, although $40,000 in improvements were necessary.

Snohomish was interested in the Central Feed site because it was the preferred site at several public meetings. It is north of the city’s swimming pool and fields and a playground. And there are plans to add a youth center and a skateboard park there.

Additionally, McDonald said, in the city’s future, it wants to create a bike and pedestrian trail that will connect the Snohomish riverfront to the Centennial Trail, which runs north from the railroad property the city is purchasing. Other purchases from Burlington Northern will be necessary for that plan.

The city will need to demolish buildings on the library site before construction can begin. The city will then sell the property to the Sno-Isle Regional Library System, which will oversee the facility. That purchase will be paid for by the proceeds of the bonds.

That purchase price will be set based on an independent appraisal, McDonald said.

McDonald said about 10 companies have shown an interest in designing the facility, which is expected to be about 23,000 square feet in one story.

A committee of Sno-Isle and city representatives is narrowing the field to five, and interviews will be conducted later this week. The top two or three will then negotiate their costs, and the committee will select one firm.

But don’t grab your backpack to head to the new library just yet. It will be January before a contract is awarded, and the library isn’t expected to open until late summer 2002.

Meanwhile, the current library in the Carnegie Building at 105 Cedar St. will remain open. That building is owned by the city, and McDonald said its future use is still being considered.

"We’re going to do an inventory of city space needs," he said. "We’re going to look at this in a holistic way and assess all the structures the city owns and try to determine the best uses for each."

Ideas have included moving city offices into the Carnegie, and that it be used in part as a museum. The city is at least a year from making any decision on that, he said.

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