New Lake Stevens Library moves closer to ballot

Lake Stevens Library Managing Librarian Sonia Gustafson and members of the Lake Stevens Library Board, Kevin Stone, Abe Martinez, Debbie Ames, Janice Stepp, Board Chair Shaelynn Charvet Bates and Andy Powers (from left) gathered Aug. 23 at the Chapel Hill-area property proposed for a new Lake Stevens Library. The get-together was the day after Charvet Bates presented a unanimous letter of support for the proposed project from the library board to the Lake Stevens City Council. The Friends of the Lake Stevens Library group has also presented a similar letter of support to the city council.    

A bond measure for a new, larger Lake Stevens Library is one step away from being on the ballot in February.

Three related actions this week by the Sno-Isle Libraries Board of Trustees, the Lake Stevens City Council and members of the Lake Stevens Library Capital Facility Area (LCFA) governing body are paving the way for voters to weigh in on a new library.

“The Lake Stevens community is growing and deserves a library that can deliver the services that community members want and need,” Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory said. “The support of the community, the city council and Mayor John Spencer along with the LCFA is gratifying.”

On Monday, Oct. 23, the library-district trustees voted unanimously to request putting a bond measure on the Feb. 13, 2018, ballot. The proposed bond of not more than $17 million would pay for building, furnishing and equipping a new 20,000-square-foot library on property at 99th Avenue NE and Market Place in Lake Stevens.

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, the city council members voted unanimously to approve a companion resolution to the one passed the library-district trustees.

“I’m very pleased with our council’s support for a new library,” Lake Stevens Mayor John Spencer said. “Our city and the surrounding community is one of the fastest growing in the region. We’ve been working with the library district to bring a facility that meets our needs and I look forward to continuing that collaboration.”

Today, Oct. 25, both the library district’s and city’s resolutions went to three-member LCFA governing body and again was unanimously approved. The LCFA members are Snohomish County Council members Sam Low, Nate Nehring and Brian Sullivan. The next and final step before appearing on the Feb. 13 ballot is consideration by the full county council, expected in early December.

If voters approve a bond measure in February, it would be the second half of a process that started earlier this year.

On Valentine’s Day 2017, voters passed a measure that created the LCFA with 69 percent “yes” vote. On that same ballot, a bond proposal received 66 percent approval, but fell short of the required voter turnout.

The Lake Stevens Library has long been recognized as too small to serve the existing community as well as the projected growth for the area. The Sno-Isle Libraries 10-year capital facilities plan published in 2016 recommends replacing the current library with a new, larger facility.

The current library building is owned by the City of Lake Stevens on property identified for redevelopment in the Lake Stevens Downtown Subarea Plan. Library services are provided by Sno-Isle Libraries. In 2008, city residents approved joining the library district. Funding from the 2008 vote helps cover Lake Stevens Library operating costs, but not a new facility.

If the bond measure is approved in February, a new Lake Stevens Library would be owned by Sno-Isle Libraries. What a new library would look like would be determined later with opportunities for public input if funding is approved by voters.

The property purchased in 2016 by the library district is adjacent to land that was already owned by the City of Lake Stevens. The city is considering moving some services from downtown to the new location. City and library officials have been in discussions on how to utilize both properties to achieve library and city goals.