Opinion: Clackamas County commissioners need to hear from you
Calling on Oak Lodge residents. Let's bring this library home.
This is a decisive moment. A new library comes around only once in a generation or once in a lifetime. How much funding Clackamas County allocates to our long promised new Oak Lodge Library branch is in question.
Here's what it comes down to: making sure our new library meets the needs of the community for decades to come. Now is the time to let the Clackamas County commissioners hear that we support investing ample funding in a first-rate Oak Lodge Library branch to replace the substandard one on McLoughlin Boulevard. Our input will have a significant impact on our elected officials' decisions.
The new Oak Lodge Library will be a vital element in a trio of amenities — a park, a library and a community center — to be located on the property of the former Concord School. This library will replace the existing undersized, outdated branch that's been in a rental building on McLoughlin Boulevard for over 30 years.
Whether this new library has sufficient funding depends to a large degree on residents confirming that we want this library prioritized. The two branches of this library — Oak Lodge and Gladstone — already have several million dollars in hand, but need additional funding from the county to meet the pandemic-driven runaway cost increases. More funding has been promised and decisions are expected to be made in September about the amount of additional funds to be allocated from the county's $81 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, as well as from the County General Fund. Knowing how much residents care is of critical importance to this equation in the eyes of the county commissioners.
You can help by taking one or more of these actions:
Testify in person at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, at the county commissioners' meeting at the Red Soils Building in Oregon City. This creates the biggest impact. Up to three minutes are allotted for each public comment.
Testify virtually on Sept. 8. Visit this link on Sept. 1 or later to find meeting information and the Zoom link.
Email your commissioners to let them know how much you care about your new library:
Get your friends informed and involved.
Consider the many benefits a library provides to the fabric of our growing, diverse community. Beyond providing books and media, it offers services to every demographic: children, seniors, teens, underserved community members and people without internet access at home.
It gives everyone a place to gather and connect at meetings, classes and multicultural educational or entertainment events. Library storytime and children's programs are part of getting our youngest community members engaged and off to a great start. Being a centralized place for all to gather fosters a sense of place and community identity. It contributes to social connection and joy.
Demonstrating widespread support for our new library to be fully funded will help bring a decades overdue, 21st-century library into being. For background on this library project since 2018, before funding became an issue, go to clackamas.us/communityproject. Click here for the most recent published design option.
Picture a beautifully designed interior space with soothing views of greenery from its many windows, along with carefully coordinated outdoor spaces in the surrounding park setting. Visualize the appealing ambience of the indoor space when you use a computer, attend a meeting, take a class in vegetable growing, or do an art project with others. Imagine enjoying an expanded level of free public events. Outdoor plays, music, juggling, live comedy, slam poetry, storytelling, history, chess in the garden — you name it. This is where we grow community spirit and participation.
Along with its companion park and community center, this new library will be a coming-of-age for Oak Grove and Jennings Lodge.
Get your friends informed and involved. Send this link: tinyurl.com/New-Oak-Lodge-Library.
Anatta Blackmarr and Grover Jeffrey Bornefeld are members of the Library Advisory Board and Parks District Advisory Committee.
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