After the April 17th City Council meeting, here is an update on the Library Project...
Last August, the Urban Renewal Agency approved funds to build a new library in Canby that will be located on 2nd Avenue. Since then, planning has been underway. We had three community meetings to get feedback as the architectural plans were rendered. We've also been trying to finalize the acquisition of the land that the plan intends the library to be built on.
We have hit some bumps along the way, a significant one is obtaining the land intended for the new library. While some bumps are normal and expected in any large scale project, this was significant enough for several of the members of the council to request further analysis and discussion. The land desired for the library is currently owned by Canby Utility. Although originally anticipated to be a land swap with the city, Canby Utility and the City instead would like to come to an agreement for the city to purchase all of the Canby Utility property located on 1st Avenue. The "bump" is the amount we will ultimately need to purchase the property. Myself, Greg Ellis, our city administrator, and other city staff, on Friday April 12th came together to discuss what was still to come and the need for the council to engage in serious conversation on this issue. Staff's position was that they just wanted/needed direction to go. Based on the information we learned from having our Urban Renewal Attorney come speak to us, we had several options presented:
- Are we going to stay the course?
- Sit on the bond money for 10yrs then pay back the money?
- Should we choose another location?
- Should we reallocate the bond funds to other Urban Renewal projects?
My role in these proceedings was to present where we were thus far in the library planning process and to hear from the council and the citizens of Canby their thoughts on how to proceed. After it was voted to not proceed with the current plan to build on 2nd Avenue (a vote of 3 -2) the conversation went on to the other options. After that dialogue on the other options, a motion was made to over turn the evening's previous vote and to go ahead with the very plan, we had a half hour before, voted down. So, it was ultimately decided that the Council would stick with the current plan by a vote of 4-1.
I'd like to emphasize yet again my support of the council's decision to build a new library. While as a councilor I voted against the plan, I ultimately do see a new library as a positive move for Canby. It was my questions with the overall plan that were still vague that influenced my vote, not the library itself. As mayor, I have met with countless people in regards to this project. I've heard all the sides of this initial planning process. Some have translated my desire to insist on fine tuning and reviewing of the plan as we move along as "anti-library"; some claim that we voted it in, let's just move it along and be done with it.
I hope you all know that I am a mayor that would not sit idly by and let things just "roll along" or just rubber stamp things without making sure WE have done our due diligence. Of course I am going to ask questions. Of course I am going to make sure that in this project, as well as any other project or issue with our city, I am reviewing the process, analyzing it's progress, and adjusting accordingly, as needed. This is our largest project in more than two decades and we are shaping downtown Canby for decades to come. I will insist that it is done well and will be something everyone will want to be proud of.