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Community development director says new edifice will 'cultivate a significant change' to town's character.

When I look around my family room at home I nearly always notice a check-out receipt from our local library in Forest Grove, evidence of our most recent visit. My family regularly patronizes the library, not only for our classical homeschooling educational needs but for our favorite genre, classic fiction, which we obtain in both hardback and audio book format.

RYAN WELLSWhen we visit, we often marvel at the great variety of people for whom the library is a community hub. There are the regulars who depend on the stacks and computer resources to conduct research. The students who come to study and socialize. The activist outside silently sharing his prayer for peace. The simple act of borrowing and returning books is really just the first drop leading to larger ripples that represent the breadth of what a library truly is.

As the Community Development Director for the city of Cornelius, I have observed our residents' great dependence on and broad benefits garnered from our humble Cornelius Library. Our current 3,065-square-foot library, located at City Hall, enjoys a very high volume of users (60,000 annually), undoubtedly bolstered by the creative programming offered to youth and adults alike by the hard-working library staff. But this space exceeded its capacity many years ago. And thankfully, that reality is on the brink of change.

This Saturday, the city of Cornelius and its many partners will celebrate the groundbreaking on a new mixed-use library and housing project that represents the culmination of over 12 years of effort and perseverance. Named "Cornelius Place," this project's ground floor includes a new 13,650-square-foot state-of-the-art library and a 2,900-square-foot YMCA Recreation and Fitness Center. The second and third stories of this new building will house 45 apartment units for low income, 55-and-older residents. The housing will be managed by the nonprofit BRIDGE Housing with local service provider Bienestar. Their hard work is focused on the current housing challenges faced by our region.

Cornelius Place will bring a much-needed nucleus to our small but growing community. The new library space, over four times the size of the current library, will not only include the traditional stacks but will also boast a much larger computer area, a business center, age-specific areas for teens and young children and a café. In addition, the project will also include a beautiful 5,000-square-foot outdoor courtyard that will offer seating and activity areas surrounded by native plants and other decorative and educational features.

I am an urban planner, and so I am particularly interested in how the new edifice will cultivate a significant change to the character of our downtown streetscape. Cornelius Place will be the first three-story building in our city. Combined with the attractive architecture of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center further down Adair Street, this project will help to set the stage for future downtown development and serve as an example for the form, configuration and style of new buildings yet to be constructed. Along with significant improvements on Adair and Baseline streets in our downtown, this project is a testament to our city's dedication to improve the quality of life for our residents and help create an inviting environment for residents, visitors and — just as importantly — current and future downtown business owners.

Libraries serve as a cornerstone in communities across the country. The improved literary and technological resources offered at Cornelius Place will serve all of our residents and create enrichment opportunities for our youth from all walks of life. It will be a safe and productive space for students to spend time after school. It will provide a business services area for entrepreneurs and small business owners to conduct critical business tasks. It will also offer a visually-appealing and serene space in the outdoor courtyard for relaxing, socializing and gathering.

In addition, Cornelius Place will improve the presentation of our city to the 35,000 cars passing through on a daily basis. It will help to tell the story of a Cornelius that has overcome periods of hardship and economic stagnation; a Cornelius that has renewed itself to be a thriving city with drive, community ambition and a true spirit as "Oregon's Family Town."

I invite you to join me and our neighbors at the Cornelius Place groundbreaking this coming Saturday, Sept. 23, at 10 am. The festivities will be located on North Adair Street between North 13th and North 14th avenues. Many opportunities remain for individual and business sponsorships; please contact Karen Hill, Cornelius Library Director at 503-992-5381 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Ryan Wells is the Community Development

Director for the city of Cornelius.

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