Sunday, February 17, 2013

The New Canby Library: Where We Stand

Since the posting of this Blog post it has been brought to my attention that some of my information was inaccurate around the financials of the library.  I referenced budgeted numbers as "spent" dollars which is not the case.  They were just that - budgeted.  I apologize for the incorrect reporting on my part.  Here are the correct numbers as provided to me by our Library Director:

  • The total cost of the library is $7.7 million.  With a grant from Clackamas County of $1 million, as part of becoming part of the County Library District, and the $1 million committed to the new library through fundraising efforts the actual cost to the Urban Renewal District is $5.7 million.
  • A preliminary architectural report was developed for the 1st Ave site that actually cost $20,800, not over $400,000 as I reported when this first went out.  According to Ms. Hummel "The purpose of a preliminary architectural report is to determine whether a proposed site is viable for the intended purpose and to provide a very rough layout of the proposed building."
I apologize for any confusion or misrepresentation that this may have caused by posting incorrect financial information around the new library.  I am confident the Architects, Engineers, and Staff will, after all the feedback they have received at the public meetings, deliver a building Canby will be proud of.

Canby is under way on the design and layout of its brand new library.  In fact, we are about to have the 3rd public meeting concerning design coming up on Tuesday February 19th at 6:30pm at our Police Station.

If you recall back about 9 months ago, I made a blog post about my position on the idea of a new library and why I voted 'No' to allocate nearly $8 Million for this project.  You can read the full posting at Urban Renewal Passes the New Library Project: My Statement and a follow up posting at My Vision for the Library.  I will provide as much background as I can on this project and some of the ins-and-outs that have gone on because it is important to lay out the details.

This huge project is a four fold project - 1) renovate the old police station and move city staff there while the new library and council chambers are built.  2) When the new library is complete, the library staff and equipment will move from its old location to the new building.  3) Their old location will be renovated and become the new City Hall and staff will move in there.  4) When all that is complete, the old police station will be demolished and become a parking lot.

I enjoy the library.  From its quiet spaces, to programming, to the number of books we have access to on site as well as those we can transfer in.  Libraries are indeed becoming gathering places for many.  They also can be cultural centers.  The Canby Library did a great workshop recently on the development of downtown.  My kids love going to the library and the park which is right across the street.  I want Canby to have a great library, one that we can be very proud of.  I want to make sure that the plan that is in place, is one that maximizes our valuable tax dollars.

We have had two public meetings so far with a third to come. Each meeting has had more and more people turnout for the meetings which is great to see.  It is nice to see more citizens than city staff and consultants.  The history of this project goes back 4+ years and two mayors ago.  Then, the project was going to be built along 1st Ave in downtown Canby.  This would place the library facing the railroad tracks and a four lane highway that goes through our town.  It was going to be designed as a single floor building.  It was pressed to add an additional half second floor to accommodate city staff so we could consolidate city operations.  The big roadblock then was the collection of properties from two owners - Canby Utility, our public utility, and an office building.  At the time, the desire was to make the entire downtown block a civic block.  With the city acquiring this land, it would mean we would have achieved this. The vote came to approve the allocation of Urban Renewal Funds, and even after the utility company stated that they were not in a position to sell the property and move, the vote went 5-2 to move forward with the design aspects.  Yes I was one of the 'No' votes.  At that point, we had spent $400,000+ on staff time and design drawings for a space that we did not have the land for.  The library did not move past design because we did not have all the land for the project.  That $400,000 was wasted.  Again, this was not what was actually spent.  The amount spent was $20,800.

So fast forward from August 22nd 2012 to now. We have moved the idea of the building to the other side of the block to 2nd ave.  Much of the reasoning is that the city owns this side of the block so we do not have secure anymore property.  The library is going to be one floor instead of two because our Library Director does not want to operate a two floor library for safety reasons and she expressed that it would be difficult to raise funds if the building was more than just a library.  Finally, it is going to be 3,000 sq/ft smaller than the previous design, which is below the size recommendation of the Oregon Library Association.  Based on the projected growth of Canby over the next 30 years, the OLA recommends that the library be 25,500 sq/ft.  Again, we have not addressed the issues from the August meeting, let alone the issues from almost 4 years ago:

  1. We have not secured the land needed for the project.  As of the writing of this, Canby Utility (CU) and the City are working out 1) a land swap that would give the old police location to CU for parking of staff and the City would get the land CU uses currently for parking.  This will give the City the land for the building and for the drive-up book drop that will take them out to 1st Ave. 2) The City needs to purchase land from CU, even with the land swap, to ensure the alley way is wide enough for emergency vehicles to pass. 
  2. It takes the library away from the living room of our downtown which centers around a park that takes up an entire city block.
  3. The building will be placed on city owned property that should be made available for commercial development.  It is of my opinion that 2nd avenue is one of our main streets, that can really develop economically. This helps add to the tax base which we can then use this revenue to build a new library.
  4. We are planning it to be too small to meet our future needs.  We are projected to out grow this new space within 10 years from when we open it and still have 10 years to pay on the debt.
  5. Last year the city moved $70,000 into the library's portion of the budget to be able to meet operation costs.  These were funds that I was in favor of approving. Now, we are planning a new library which will be larger to heat, cool, provide electricity, etc.  With budgets being so tight this next year and in subsequent years, how we meet all our obligations will be under tremendous stress.
  6. My predecessor spoke of "an economic avalanche of activity" from this project.  With a building project like this we should expect a tremendous ripple affect that will affect blocks around it.  I do not think the location on 2nd ave does this.
So let's take a look at what we have so far:
The initial floor plan: top is 2nd ave, Left is Holly.
Light blue at the top is the  Children's section.
The pink area to the left of the Children's Area will be a multi-purpose room
and the brown on the left along Holly will be Council Chambers.

Aerial shot.  Right to Left - Council Chambers in existing City Hall Building.
Entry way in the middle moving to multi-purpose room
then to the larger area of the book stacks and study tables.

Street level shot

This is a street level look of the corner of Ivy and 2nd Ave.
Not pictured will be the additional plants needed, bike racks,
and bollards needed for safety.

Proposed ceiling beam design.  Skylights with steel support beams.  Height is that of a story
and a half.  Designed to bring a lot of natural light.  1st meeting
designers had commented about challenges of sky lights

These are another option of steel  supports that were presented

An all wood ceiling option.  This design is a laminate wood
with steel supports.
So where does that leave the city on this project and with downtown?  We have already issued the bonds on the project, we have received $1 Million from the County Library District for capital expenditures, and the library is in the midst of fundraising.  It will come down to the desire of our community to influence the council to make the changes necessary so that this will carry us the 40-50 years we need or to say "not this way, not right now".

At the end of the day there are still options and aspects that are far from being ironed out.  Some on the council need to hear from you on this matter.  Be Active and Be Involved.


  1. The new library is the most exciting project to happen in Canby for years. Your comments as our new mayor are manipulative and out of line. Do you understand that a negative response from you may very well hinder our fundraising opportunities for the library? You may need to review the ethical and moral responsibilities of your new position. The Urban Renewal Agency approved this project. It is time for you to get on board and stop nitpicking and undermining it. Susan Bitter

    1. Susan,
      Thank you for your comments and feedback. This is a very exciting project and I look forward to a new library in downtown Canby. To address the "nitpicking and undermining" comment. I am going to "nitpick" this project and every project that the city produces because that is our responsibility. I will do my very best to make sure that all projects be done with the utmost care and be completed the best we can. If the other information I reported lights a fire to get things ironed out quicker or that future city projects are vetted to the hilt then that is a great thing. I admit that my financial comments were incorrect and I have corrected them and made statements to that affect.

      Again, thank you for the comments and feedback. I am grateful that we have passionate people in our community that desire big things for Canby. I look forward to further conversation.

  2. I support libraries, 100%, but I feel this is a waste of money that we do not have. The future of what libraries are going to be is not what they are now. We currently do not have enough money to pay staff to keep the library open. What happens when this new library is built but is closed because there is no money to operate it. I appreciate the honesty of our Mayor for expressing his opinions and I appreciate the opportunity for us as a community to be a part of this process. This is one of the reasons I love living in Canby--we are allowed to be heard--the negative and the positive. I hope this never changes. I wish that a compromise could be found without costing us taxpayers so much money, money that I would rather use to fund the education of our kids.

    1. Anonymous #1 - Thank you for supporting the library. I don't know if I agree that it is a "waste of money". There is an investment into the downtown that is being made that will create an impact. I am hopeful that it is a big impact - fingers and toes crossed. The new library will not close b/c the voters voted in the library district that ensures the city meets a minimum staffing every year.

      I am appreciative of all feedback from all sides of an issue. Right now I have some of the city fired up and the next issue may fire up the other side. That is okay. The day people feel that I am not willing to listen is the day I will need to pack it in. Lets do this the best we can and ensure that we keep it working.

      Thanks "Anonymous" for being engaged in Canby. Keep involved and engaged.

  3. Good read Mr. Hodson, I am pleased to read your thoughts and projections and have them available to the public. I also appreciate that you are straight forward and to the point! People really need to stop wearing their emotions. Don't let the debbie-downer's comment above shake you. Keep up the good work!

    1. Anonymous #2,
      Thank you for the compliment. I do not play poker very well so when I lay things out there it can come back on me a little. I do not think either of the comments were "downers" as much as they are people that are engaged and want what is best for Canby. I will stay as straight forward as I can. If I cannot talk about it I will tell you that and I will come back around when I can talk about it. Thank you for the comments and the support.

  4. Honesty. Transparency. I love the open conversation that occurs when "We The People" engage...

  5. Mr. Mayor & Anonymous #1,
    I have to agree with Anonymous that this is a waste of money.
    With all due respect Mr. Mayor, I understand that "waste of money" can be subjective, but in these economic times, we don't have the discretionary income to build the Taj Mahahl Library that is being planned. I would prefer to wait until we can be on solid ground financially and be certain that ANY library in this town can stay open with a sustainable budget before considering building a new facility. This is NOT the time to be spending so much money on ANY civic facility.

  6. $20k is easier to swallow than $400k but waste is still waste.
    I do appreciate corrections in reporting being made when appropriate so thank you for the update/edit.

    1. Glad that I could update. I will make sure I grasp the numbers before I start reporting on them.

  7. A library is an investment in community, education, the city, its people and their future. It's not a waste of money any more than going to college and buying a house is. I'm excited to see this project taking shape!

    1. I agree with all of the things stated here. These are examples of investments. Let us remember that we do have a library in Canby. The investment is there. We are building a new library. That is the concern many have. The value of ones investment in college is what they place in that investment. Does one get a better education at Stanford than at U of O just because it is Stanford? Or is it about what the student puts into it? I may want Stanford but can only afford U of O.

  8. The city voted 65 - 35 to require a vote of the people before any urban renewal projects could be approved. That is a monster landslide and needs to be recognized and respected. The city voted against the police station but the city leaders built one anyway. Both of those public elections were mandates from the citizens. Some may not like it, but that's the system we have.

    Now, are the new city leaders once again going to spurn the will of the true majority? If so, it's a sham of a republic we're living here in Canby. The people have spoken loudly and clearly but nobody is listening. Hard working Canby citizen.

    1. Hard Working Canby Citizen,
      Thank you for your comments. The 65-35 you are referring to was Canby's breakdown of the county vote, I think. That was a very large spread from Canby alone. I disagree that nobody is listening. It may be that enough are not listening.

  9. I agree with the above comment about the people in our city being so opposed to urban renewal. But the writer forgot to mention your election, Mayor Hodson. You hammered the former mayor, Randy Carson, by a lopsided margin. Why was that? I know why. Carson was the biggest advocate of urban renewal in this city and you advocated restraint and better planning. Any normal person knows that all those projects aren't free. We're only recently beginning to hear of the terrible costs of urban renewal. The citizens here in Canby elected you over Carson because they believed you when you said no to the library plan as presented. Please share your vision with us about the library, why it shouldn't be gone from Waite Park, how much will it cost in the long haul. What can we do? Do we even need a new library with all the Kindels and technology now? If its for kids, for gosh sake why can't we leave it next to the park so the kids can enjoy both. Thanks for having this blog and allowing me to vent my frustrations. I appreciate all your honest replies and I didn't know about this blog until today. I am a Canby resident and a graduate of CUHS.

    1. I am glad you have discovered my Blog. Your answers to the questions you asked are in previous Blog posts as well as above. Just a couple of weeks ago we had this very topic up for discussion. The reason it came back up was that several of the Councilors had concerns about the need to purchase property from Canby Utility and the cost we would have to take on. This once again passed the Council and we have moved to another step in the process. On June 5th the Council will meet to discuss the purchase of the Canby Utility property. I still do not want to see the library moved from Wait Park among other reasons. But the council has voted twice to do this project, this way. I will fight to make sure we do the best we can to deliver a great library.


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