EDITOR'S NOTE: The following letter by Peter van Arkens was addressed directly to Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann.
After reading the front page story in the Feb. 4 edition of The Outlook ("Commissioners support eastside library expansion"), I offer the following comments and concerns.
Is it a wise use of funds to approve spending an estimated $405 million to expand library locations of the eastside and build a new library?
I oppose this because library use has declined steadily, especially with new ways that most people obtain their "news and info" in the age of smartphones. Any information the library has, including access to eBooks, is easily done. We don't need costly, bigger buildings that will likely be underused by the general population.
Can the same $405 million be used more effectively and have an immediate impact on our growing communities in and around the Portland metro area?
Truthfully, I see more and more homelessness all around us and this issue must be at the forefront of any discussions requesting further tax increases, such as this eight- year bond costing $12 a month per family dwelling assessed at $200,000.
This is somewhat misleading, as most houses in the area are assessed at much higher values, hence the reported $12 will likely be higher. This is another area where honesty with the public is critical, but as with most politicians, truth is usually far removed from the public.
I implore you to vote "no" on this overreach of funds, for the aforementioned reasons.
We can do quite nicely with what is available for the library system plus address an immediate and urgent need for homelessness solutions that are of much greater concern than having a 95,000 square foot edifice to admire and look at while using our smartphones to take pictures of said edifice and feeling good about ourselves, all while people are encamped along freeways, parks and other public places in the city.
Peter van Arkens, Troutdale
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