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The North Bend Eagle

North Bend Library at popcorn plant site
Here's what the new library might look like on the corner of 13th and Main
in North Bend, on the grounds of the old popcorn plant.

Popcorn plant site gets the nod

Mayor's tie breaking vote favors 13th and Main for library over current site

by Nathan Arneal
Published 7/14/10

The North Bend Public Library will be moving north.

At its July 6 meeting, the North Bend City Council voted 3-2 to build the new library on the grounds of the old popcorn plant at 13th and Main.

Council members Tim Blackmon and Lisa Voss voted for the popcorn plant site, while Kevin Ferguson and Emily Kirschenmann voted against it.

Mayor Jeff Kluthe was required to cast the deciding vote.

“It look like as of right now,” Kluthe said after the initial vote resulted in a 2-2 tie, “it’s going to the popcorn plant.”

His statement was met with applause from a crowd that spilled into the hall outside the council chambers.

“To me this makes the most sense,” Blackmon said. “There were too many battles in the other direction.”

Ferguson and Kirschenmann said they wanted to see the new library be built on the same site as the current library.

“I was born and raised in North Bend,” Ferguson said. “I’ve been here 52 years, and to me I’d just as soon see it where it sits right now. I like the library being there. Someday I’d like to see a community center built, maybe on the existing auditorium site, and I think they would go hand-in-hand across the street from each other.”

The agreement drawn up between the city and the Library Foundation at the beginning of the process says that the city is responsible for providing parking for the library. At the time the agreement was struck, it was thought that the new library would be built on the current site, where most of the required parking is already in place.

Before the vote was taken, council members expressed concerns about the cost to the city of installing parking at the popcorn plant site.

“If you’ve been down some of the city streets of North Bend, some of them need some work themselves,” Blackmon said. “If we’re going to spend the money for a parking lot for the new library, yet don’t fix our own streets, that could be a tough sell (to the people of North Bend).”

Zoning requirements will require at least 16 parking stalls for the new library. Blackmon said if the Library Foundation could also raise the money for parking, the popcorn plant site would much easier to support.

Jim Kruger, who has pledged $100,000 to the library project, spoke in favor of the popcorn plant site.

“It’s on the main thoroughfare through town,” Kruger said, “and it will be the gateway into North Bend.”

He pointed out that if the Highway 30 expressway is built north of town, the new library will be the first thing most people see when entering town.

“I grew up in North Bend,” Kruger said. “The old librarian that was here, some people might remember Laura Roump, she would turn over in her grave if she thought I was here supporting the library.”

Head librarian Amy Williams said a different site would allow the current library to stay open until the new one is ready, eliminating the need to move to a temporary site.

Tom Wolf, who has offered to buy the current library building, said his main goal it to preserve the historic Carnegie structure.

“Our Carnegie library is the only building in North Bend to be listed on the National Registry of Historic Places,” Wolf said, “and there’s a lot of people in this community that take great pride in that and don’t want it to be torn down.”

At the end of the Library Foundation’s presentation, Mary Buller asked the city to approve the new location so that construction could begin this fall, with a goal of breaking ground around October 1. She said the architects have told her that waiting to build will increase costs by about 4 percent per year.

After the vote was taken to build on the popcorn plant site, city attorney Tommy Thomsen said the next step is to draw up a new agreement between the city and the Library Foundation and Library Board reflecting the change in site and any other changes, such as who is responsible for parking, or who will own the library during construction.

Library Foundation treasurer Deanna Wolf said that $951,149.04 of the $1.2 million goal has been raised. About about $615,000 has been collected, with the rest in pledges or grants yet to be received.

She said other communities have been “astounded” at the amount of money North Bend has raised, giving an example of Wahoo, which recently built a new library after raising $300,000 and borrowing $900,000.

Action on the Wolfs’ offer to buy the current library building was tabled.

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