Work begins in earnest on the possibility of building a library-city hall complex on Third Avenue

by: RAY HUGHEY - Chairman Jon Dragt outlines Canby Public Library Board concerns in a joint workshop with members of the city's Urban Renewal Agency board on plans for a new library-city hall project.The city will explore acquiring the property needed for a new library-city hall, referring the project to voters and how to pay for it.

At an Oct. 9 special meeting, the Canby Urban Renewal Agency board discussed building a library-city hall on Third Avenue. The three-phase project would take about four years at an estimated total cost of $14,801, 504.

The first phase would include an 18,125-square-foot library, a 3,000-square-foot basement and an unoccupied second-story shell for future city offices.

The second phase would be finishing the city administration offices, and the third phase would be a 5,000 square foot expansion of the library and council chambers.

The URA meeting followed a joint workshop the previous night with members of the Canby Public Library Board.

Board members still were frustrated at finding the sense in killing the Second Avenue library project to build a smaller and more expensive one on Third Avenue.

Board members also were concerned that the city was proceeding without the expertise of a library director and would build a library that would be below standards by the time it opened.

“We want you guys to succeed,” said Jon Dragt, library board chairman. “If you fail, the community fails.”

At the Oct. 9 URA meeting, City Administrator Greg Ellis explained that architect Frank Berg saw the new city hall-library as one project done in three phases.

The city had directed Berg to come up with a plan for the property and money already on hand and that was the first phase. But Berg says the city needs to plan on the expansion, Ellis said. That’s part of the project.

The design costs for all three parts were included in the first phase cost estimate.

The project would also require the city to buy two properties behind the library.

“What I also took away from last night, loud and clear, we should have the land locked down before we pursue the project,” said Commissioner Clint Coleman.

The URA directed Ellis and the city staff to start acquisition by gathering appraisals and knocking on doors.

Canby Mayor Brian Hodson said, “Another piece that came out last night, we want to be thorough and correct, rather than fast.”

The commission asked Ellis and the staff to look at ways to bridge the $5.8 million gap between the money on hand and the project’s $14,801,306 estimated total cost. The city has available $8.9 million from bonds sold for the cancelled Second Avenue library.

“How do we get all these phases funded in a timely manner,” Hodson said.

Councilor Tim Dale said funding was an integral part of the project master plan. He wanted a plan that was fundable and know what the options were to get there.

The commission also discussed referring the project to the voters. That would be done by its city council alter ego.

“If we go to the voters, the May ballot is a good one to get on,” Hodson said. “That means we’ve got to be ready to go by March. We should be able to know that we can lock down the property. We should be able to put forth at least the scope of what it could look like and what not, so we know what we’re putting on the ballot for people to consider.”

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