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Silverdale Library sites down to two
And then there were two.
It seems that that's the number of options now being considered for the location for a new Silverdale Library. Although there was a public open house last Thursday, to discuss three options for the library, one of those locations was taken off the table the following day.
Originally, three locations were under consideration, those being on the Central Kitsap Community Campus, property near the Silverdale United Methodist Church and land owned by the Port of Silverdale in Old Town.
But at the same time that library officials and the Central Kitsap Community Council (CKCC) were taking comments on the three locations, commissioners for the Port of Silverdale voted to withdraw the port's property from consideration.
"Kitsap Regional Library is disappointed that the Port of Silverdale voted Thursday night to withdraw a piece of property in Old Town Silverdale from consideration as a site for the new Silverdale Library," said Jeff Brody, director of community relations for the Kitsap Regional Library. "KRL has been working with Port Commissioner Lawrence Greaves and Port Attorney Phil Best for almost six months to identify the scope of a possible partnership by which KRL could build a library on land the Port owns in Old Town. That property was among the three options that KRL presented to the public Thursday night at a town meeting on the new library."
Brody said he was caught off guard at the port's decision.
Greaves said Monday that the decision was a economic one.
"It's unfortunate that we were meeting at the same time as the CKCC," he said. "When we met we looked at figures presented to us by the port's attorney and it became obvious that we would be losing a significant amount of income if we were to go forward with plans for a library on the property. We just came to the conclusion that it wasn't in the best interest of the port to lose that income."
In all, Greaves estimated that the port would lose up to $6,000 a month from rental income to businesses that are now located in that block. He said the library was only offering $1 a month for rent.
"Even if we were to locate those businesses on a second story, above the library, we would be a year to 18 months without that income," Greaves said.
One business owner whose business would be displaced if the library had been built on the port property spoke out at the meeting last Thursday.
Elizabeth Barnes, owner of Elizabeth's House of Wax, said she didn't think it was the right location for the library.
"If this was the site selected, six businesses would be eliminated," she said. "Those businesses bring customers to Old Town to the restaurants and other businesses. A library would not contribute to the economy."
Several others at the meeting, not knowing that the location would soon be taken off the table, thought it was just the right location. The property would be waterfront and they liked the idea that families could take children to the library, visit the nearby park, and enjoy the scenery.
Of the locations that are still under consideration, the Central Kitsap Community Campus was favored by some who said it would be great to have a library within walking distance of the YMCA. They noted that plans for a performing arts center would create the campus that had been envisioned years ago.
Others worried that with three public buildings on the campus, there would be parking issues. They said building the library at the Silverdale United Methodist Church site on Ridgetop Boulevard made more sense because there was more room for parking.
Brody said the KRL would like to build a 10,000 square foot building, all on one-story to cutdown on the need for more staff. The current library is about 5,000 square feet and has not been increased in size since 1980. They will have to have from 35 to 40 parking spaces wherever the library is built. They need to have access to the latest fiber optics technology to support the computer systems needed in a new library and they would like to have it on or near a Kitsap Transit bus route. They hope to use natural lighting and have large windows and be on or near the Clear Creek Trail.
Brody said while talks have taken place, there have not been any confirmed offers and the library has not entered into any contracts. What library officials want, is to hear from the public before making a decision on the site for a new library.
He said some previous suggestions including the Kitsap Mall, a new Greaves Way shopping center in the planning, the Jenny Wright CK School District Administrative Center, the current Silverdale Post Office and several other retail sites had been looked at, but for various reasons would not work.
"With the mall, the new owners want to rent it to retail at retail rates," he said. "And school district has told us that they have no surplus property and don't plan to move out of Jenny Wright."
What is clear, Brody said, is that when a decision on the site is made by the library's board of directors, the community needs to come together and support the fundraising efforts for the library.
A previous levy for a library failed in 2010 and Brody said the library doesn't have funding in its budget to build a new Silverdale Library without cutting services at all of its other libraries. Just how much a new library will cost will depend on the particulars of its location, its size and its design.
Central Kitsap County Commissioner Linda Streissguth was at the meeting last week and said she is committed to working with the Central Kitsap Community Council and the library to find the best location. He said there are challenges with the Central Kitsap Community Campus, including what to do about the existing buildings.
"Having a library on the campus has been a part of the vision since it was conceived," she said. "But we need to address the C-STOCK building and the sheriff's office. We need to look at the entire site and everything that is located there and create multi-year plan."
Josh Hopp, board member of the C-STOCK theater, said they were interested in possibly co-locating with the library in a "more modest performing arts center."
He referred to plans by another group called the West Sound Performing Arts Center that wants to build a large theater on the community campus.
Brody said the library will continue to take public comments for several weeks. He said the KRL board hopes to pick a location by June.
To register comments go to the library's website www.krl.org, or www.surveymonkey.com/silverdalelibrarysite. He said the Port property site on Lowell Street is still listed on the survey as an option and cannot be removed from the web tally.