The new library project is officially killed at meeting

Canby's new library project was killed, forcing all the funds raised to be returned. Canby’s new library project is dead, done, gone.

The Urban Renewal Agency board voted 4-3 Wednesday, July 10, to stop the Second Avenue new library-city offices renovation project once and for all.

This came just two months after City Council first halted and then revived the project with promises to get behind the decision and move forward.

Forward progress ended June 19 when council voted 4-3 against loaning $950,000 from sewer reserve funds to buy the Canby Utility property essential to the library project.

It came to an end at the July 10 meeting when commission members Brian Hodson, Ken Ryder, Tracie Hensley and Tim Dale voted to halt the project. Richard Ares, Clint Coleman and Greg Parker favored continuing the work.

The project is gone. So is the nearly $1 million spent on it so far. So are the grants and donations for the project.

The first proposal to replace the $10.2 million Second Avenue library project was to build a $15 million library-civic center on Third Avenue.

That came from mayor Brian Hodson, who voted against continuing the Second Avenue project.

His proposal involves tearing down the present library and building a two-level civic center-library stretching down the block.

The about $15 million price tag does not include the purchase of properties east of the current library building.

Hodson proposes a two level civic center-library with elevator and stairs.

The first level would be 1 ½ stories high and the second, one story. City offices and council chambers would occupy the second floor. Room also will be available for CTV5 community access TV and storing records.

The old city hall building could be renovated possibly as a new home for the Canby Area Chamber of Commerce with a monthly lifelong lease. Space also could be available for other nonprofits.

“I know this will drive up costs,” Hodson said. “But if the present plan is not suitable, scrap it and start from scratch.

“This is about what we want and what do we envision Canby to be for our downtown.”

I just am having a very hard time coming up with and getting on board with good,” Hodson said, “when I think we have the potential to do great. We owe to do great.”

His Third Avenue proposal would definitely drive up the project’s cost, he said.

It’s a lofty plan, it’s an incredible stretch plan,” Hodson said. “It would be hard work.”

But should the project be just the easier option? “Easier and cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean better and right.”

“What we’ve got is good, but I think we can do better,” Hodson said. “When we look at what we’re doing with this project, we are shaping downtown for a generation. We get one shot at it.”

His Third Avenue proposal would leave Second Avenue available for development, he said.

“My opinion, I’ve got conversations with commercial developers and commercial sales people that they tell me Second Avenue is a great place to build and grow the downtown.”

How could the city pay for this? Hodson proposed using the $10.2 million available from the bonds, plus the $553,000 URD budget this year and for the next three years.

The library and friends of the library, ask them to raise additional money, whether that’s raising fees, more going out to organizations or go to the voters for the library district for bonding.

Those numbers came up to plus or minus $15 million, but everyone needs to stay in the game.

Hensley, Ryder and Dale found merit in Hodson’s proposal. All three wanted to see whatever the plan that it go before the voters.

Commissioner Richard Ares said the proposal was interesting but explaining why costs should go from $10.5 million to $15 million would be a hard sell, especially to those who opposed the Second Avenue Project.

With the demise of the Second Avenue library project, the commission directed city officials to return the $1 million county grant for the Second Avenue project.

The city also will contact all the donors and return more than a half million in donations.

The city also will terminate its contracts with the project manager, architects, CM/GC, Arts Commission, fundraising consultant.

The city also must notify the bond attorneys that the project has stopped. The city also will have to notify the investors of any other projects that will be funded by money not already spent.

The decision left library supporters crushed.

Councilor Ares said he knew it was coming.

“I expected it. I’m very, very sad and a bit hurt,” he said. “We put three years in planning. It’s like a slap in the face.”

“We’re back to square one,” said library Director Penny Hummel. “It’s a very disappointing outcome.Since the passage of the library district in 2008, my focus has been to present the residents of Canby with a 21st century that they want and deserve.”

“I don’t think the citizens of this town have been well served," said Linda Warrick. She’s president of the Friends of the Library and a member of the Canby Public Library board of directors. “What the council did tonight is unconscionable. We have spent endless hours on this project. The idea that it made better sense to move the project and increase its cost by 30 percent was ludicrous.”

“I think it’s devastating for Canby,” said Tracie Heidt. “There’s not going to be a new library now if it’s going to cost $15 million.”

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