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'Winning' library solution found for Gladstone, Oak Lodge
Last month, the city of Gladstone and Clackamas County agreed to settle a lawsuit over funding for construction of a new library.
The settlement represents not just an end to the legal proceedings, but a significant first step in a cooperative journey toward a comprehensive library solution for residents of Gladstone and the surrounding unincorporated area of Oak Grove/Jennings Lodge.
This is truly a "win-win" deal for all involved.
Plans call for construction of two libraries — one in downtown Gladstone and the other at a yet-to-be determined site in the surrounding unincorporated area of Oak Grove/Jennings Lodge. The libraries will be operated as a single library solution. The county will run both libraries, modeled after the city of Sandy's two-branch system.
Combined, these facilities will provide an estimated 25,500 square feet of new library space.
This solution, as presently contemplated, does not impose additional costs to taxpayers for library construction. If built as projected in the library proposal, the library spaces can be constructed from existing funds.
It's important to note that these details are still estimates. The settlement is a general strategy. An in-depth financial analysis, for example, is still needed.
More importantly, nearly every aspect of the new libraries will be determined through a robust public outreach and engagement process, including location, scope, design, service level, funding and amenities.
In the coming weeks and months a community conversation will take place. We want your voice to be heard!
In addition to the broader community conversation, our process will specifically involve key groups that have been pivotal in helping us reach this point: the Oak Lodge Library Board of Trustees, Gladstone Library Advisory Board and Library District Advisory Committee.
Make no mistake — this is a winning solution. Gladstone residents win because they get a new library with no additional taxes for construction. Oak Lodge area residents win because they get a new library three times as big as the current one.
What if residents want to build a larger library or provide more comprehensive services than contemplated in the settlement agreement? The settlement does not preclude residents from either area from seeking additional funding through a local improvement district or general obligation bonds, if that is their desire.
There's still a lot of work to be done. The county is taking steps to ensure this process goes smoothly, and the city will put forth a ballot measure in May rescinding its current prohibition on using local funds for library construction. We're confident that once our public engagement campaign starts humming, and city residents learn more about what they're getting, support will be strong.
In the meantime, we invite you to learn more at clackamas.us/libraryproject. We'll be posting regular updates.
To those involved in this somewhat contentious issue since last year, we offer our heartfelt thanks. It's important for residents to voice concerns.
Also, we'd like to apologize. The ongoing legal conflict prevented either the county or city from publicly saying something sooner about a proposed settlement. It's not how either county commissioners or city councilors prefer to conduct public business. We're excited to move forward to this next, public-involvement-heavy phase, which will help rebuild any trust lost as a result of this episode.
We commit to listening to and working with you.