Committee looking at ideas for new Silverdale library

When Terri McKenzie was growing up in the Central Kitsap area, her trips to the public library took her to the Sylvan Branch of the Kitsap Regional Libraries in East Bremerton.

Today, her daughter often uses the Silverdale Library because it’s closer to home and more convenient.

“Her dream job would be to go to work there,” McKenzie said of her daughter.

But McKenzie, a Silverdale CPA, knows that the Silverdale library leaves much to be desired. Her personal opinion is that Silverdale needs a new library. But she’s committed to listening to residents of the area as she serves on a committee that’s looking at what’s next for the Silverdale Library.

The committee was formed from a meeting earlier this month between members of the Central Kitsap Community Council, the Friends of the Silverdale Library and officials of the Kitsap Regional Libraries.

The committee’s work is to raise awareness about the need for a larger library in Silverdale and to determine if there is the support and funding to build one.

“Silverdale deserves a new library and can make one happen,” said McKenzie. “But what we want to do is to figure out if the community wants one.”

The current library is about 4,800 square feet, and is owned by the regional library district. It was originally owned by Friends of the Silverdale Library, a non-profit group.

But when Navy Base Kitsap Bangor was built, there were impact fees from the federal government that were made available to help with the additional use the library would have. Those funds, however, could only be given to a public agency or government body. So the Friends group deeded the library to KRL for a dollar.

Using those impact fees, the library was expanded to its current size. It was originally just a 16 by 16 foot Navy surplus building.

After a library levy failed in 2007 and again in 2010, the Kitsap Library District didn’t have the money to make any improvements or expand the Silverdale Library.

Following the two failed levies, the Alford Group, was hired in September 2012, and it was determined that there wasn’t enough support in Silverdale to justify a community fundraising effort. The consultant also said any future

work for a new library needed to come from a citizen committee.

While the district supports a new library in Silverdale, part of the funding for it will have to come from donations to a capital campaign, said Jeff Brody, community relations director for KRL.

The committee working now hopes to host community informational meetings in November and December, McKenzie said.

“We’re just at the beginning stages,” she said. “Right now we’re gathering information and studying what’s been done by the community council, the Friends of the Library and by the people who worked on the feasibility study.”

Meeting are planned to include a discussion of size, location and funding of the library.

A new library in Silverdale would need to be about 10,000 square-feet, according to Brody, to serve the 50,000 residents in Central Kitsap.

“It’s justified, if the citizens want to step up and make it happen,” he said.

With a library of that size, if it were to be built at the current Old Town Silverdale site, it would have to be multiple floors, he said. And that’s not the most economic way to do things.

“In the long run, multiple stories need more staffing and are just more expensive to operate,” he said.

Hence, he said, other sites are being looked at. One is the county community campus where the Kitsap YMCA is located, along with the Kitsap County Sheriff’s office substation and the community center that houses the C-Stock theater.

“Originally, that’s where the library was planned to go,” he said. “But when the Y was built at its current size, it required more parking which created issues with using that location.”

To have the space needed at that location, the current C-Stock building would most likely have to be torn down and that’s a decision that the county would have to make, he said.

Another option is a property switch with the Port of Silverdale.

“The port owns property in Old Town and we’ve discussed doing a trade which might create the space we need,” he said. “There might be a way to work something out that would be free or provide low cost land there.”

Another location that was considered was the new CenterCal development planned for Greaves Way and Highway 3, but there wasn’t enough property available.

“It ended up that much of that area is wetlands, and with the mitigation that needed to be done, there wasn’t room for us,” Brody said.

“But the company was very sincere in their desire to be a part of the community and offer up space.”

Current best estimates are that a 10,000 square-foot library and the needed 35 to 40 parking spaces would run $5 million.

That figure includes design, site work, construction, interior furnishings and technology — “everything but books,” said Brody.

Once community meetings are held and there is a sense of whether the community wants a new library and is willing to fundraise to get one, the matter will go back to the board of trustees of the Kitsap Regional Libraries.

Brody said the most important factor is that the community run the show - that everything is driven by those who live in the area.

“We’re sending a very powerful message,” Brody said. “We want a new library in Silverdale. But it’s got to be the community that wants it. It’s got to be the community that’s willing to fundraise for it and willing to see it happen.”


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