Two measures for new Lake Stevens library on Feb. 14 ballot

LAKE STEVENS — A request for $17 million to build a new Lake Stevens Library is set to go to voters here in February.

The Sno-Isle Libraries Board of Trustees voted Oct. 24 to put two measures on the Feb. 14 ballot. Both would need voter approval in order for the district to build a new, larger library on the northwest corner of 99th Avenue NE and Market Place. That’s on Chapel Hill, not far from Frontier Village.

The first measure would set up a capital facility area, which determines who would pay taxes on the new library. The boundaries would be the same as the Lake Stevens School District. That request requires more than 50 percent of the vote to pass.

The second measure would be for a $17 million bond, to be paid back over 20 years. That would mean a new tax of about 24.5 cents per $1,000 assessed property value, or roughly $86 a year on a $350,000 home. The bond requires 60 percent approval. It also needs a minimum voter turnout of 40 percent, based on the turnout at the most recent election.

Planning for a new library in Lake Stevens started more than 15 years ago, said Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory, executive director of Sno-Isle. The district put together a 10-year capital facilities plan earlier this year that includes more information about the need for a new library.

The current Lake Stevens Library, operated by the district in a city-owned building near North Cove Park, is 2,500 square feet. It’s the smallest of the libraries in Snohomish County but serves the fifth largest population of Sno-Isle’s 21 libraries. The new library likely would be about eight times larger than the current space, according to Sno-Isle.

The library would be part of a new civic center. In September, Sno-Isle bought property across the street from where the city plans to build a new police station. Eventually, other city services are expected to relocate there, as well. That could include City Hall, though that decision depends on an ongoing downtown planning effort.

The city and library district signed an agreement earlier this year to work together on creating the civic center.

Mayor John Spencer has said the new library is an essential part of a growing city. While Sno-Isle works on the library, the city is working to annex the rest of its urban growth area. That could add thousands of people to a city that already has more than quadrupled in size since the current library opened.

How to meet the need for public services is one of the big questions during the annexation process, Spencer said. He called the library “an unmet need that is truly overdue.”

The library and city are partnering on the request to put the library measures in front of voters. They have to go to the Snohomish County Council for approval before being added to the ballot.

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

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