Fort Vancouver Regional Library has a slew of capital projects lined up that would bring a new library to Woodland, expand the current library in Ridgefield and potentially add a library to the underserved Brush Prairie area.
The three projects were a result of a 2013 facilities study the district had commissioned, which identified the need for bigger or new spaces within its jurisdiction. FVRL Executive Director Amelia Shelley said the goal of each project is to benefit the respective communities with resources that are a good use of taxpayer funding.
“We just really want to make sure that these communities are rich and vibrant and that the library provides the support they need to be successful,” Shelley said.
Ridgefield library expansion
The Ridgefield Community Library is set to expand with the potential for opening its new and improved doors in early 2021. As of last week, the district and the city of Ridgefield still had to meet to finalize plans for construction, which would increase the library space from 2,055 to 8,000 square feet, according to project information from the district. That expansion would have the library fill the entire space of the Ridgefield Community Center, which the current library only occupies a part of.
There was the possibility of a 3,000-square-foot addition, though Shelley said currently the budget was more favorable to the buildout without expansion. Design of that potential addition would be undertaken through the process in case additional fundraising would allow for what might be close to another $1 million onto the roughly $3 million base project.
The expansion has a preliminary floor plan that was presented as part of an open house at the community center Aug. 13. It features distinct spaces for children, adult and young adult material, office space and a community meeting room, though Shelley noted that the final design was subject to a few adjustments.
At the open house, community members brought up suggestions, Shelley said, including energy efficiency, something she said was already a part of district building standards. She added that another request was for a fireplace, something that would likely have to be a part of the 3,000-square-foot addition should it be funded, given the current building layout.
Should everything go as planned, the district is hoping to start construction in Spring 2020, with Shelley saying that the project was anticipated to take nine months.
“We’re very happy to be here” at the current phase of the project, Shelley said, expressing thanks to the Ridgefield Community Center Association, which donated the full center to the district in 2018 to allow for the expansion. She also thanked the Friends of Ridgefield Community Library for raising funds.
Altogether with Friends fundraising, district appropriations and several other partners, the district currently has all the funds needed for construction, with some additional fundraising needed for furnishing the library, according to district information on the project.
New Woodland library
While Ridgefield is expanding, Woodland’s library will be in a brand-new building. Previously, the district had purchased 2.4 acres at 828 Goerig St. in 2017 at a little more than $1 million in order to move out of its current Park Street location.
Shelley said on Aug. 28 she had released a request for qualifications to hire a design architect for the library, anticipating that the district would begin planning community meetings for public input in November.
Shelley said that at this stage the building was planned to be a 10,000-square-foot facility in the $3 to $4 million range, though exact numbers were hard to pinpoint. She noted that the intersection of Goerig Street and Lakeshore Drive at the corner of the library’s property would be impacted by a Washington State Department of Transportation traffic study on the Interstate 5/State Route 503 interchange.
Though she said the district had done its own study, FVRL wanted to wait and see what the state determined before making big decisions on the project.
“We want to be sure whatever we plan for that location works with whatever future changes might happen to that intersection,” Shelley said.
Shelley said that the need for a new Woodland library had been identified “many years ago” as the existing facility is a roughly 2,400-square-foot building more than 100 years old. Though in the past momentum, both in the district and the community, had been lagging, now she feels there’s enough to get the project moving.
“Just having the property there was, I think, a big step forward for us,” Shelley said.
After looking around for a suitable property, arriving on the Goerig Street parcel was a good fit in part due to its proximity to the entrance of the city from the interstate.
The possibility for a library off of Northeast 119th Street to serve Brush Prairie and the Orchards neighborhood is in a “holding pattern” as Shelley put it while the district works on other capital projects in Ridgefield and Woodland, as well as other renovations at branches like the Battle Ground Community Library.
FVRL purchased a close to 1-acre parcel January 2018 near the State Route 503/119th Street intersection, paying $200,000 for the estimated $1.4 million property. Previous owner Killian Pacific sold the property for significantly less as the Killian family saw it as an opportunity for “enhancing community” according to district project information, noting that libraries were the “cornerstones of healthy communities.”
Shelley said the site would likely feature a 9,000-square-foot facility when complete. As to why the Brush Prairie project is on the back-burner, uncertainties for the district’s operations center have slowed down spending on capital reserves, which goes to fund new library building projects, she said. She explained the city of Vancouver had been looking at using the building for an arts center, and how fast they would move on that project could mean the district would need to devote funds for a new location for operations.
“But we are very committed to building there,” Shelley said about the Brush Prairie site. She anticipated some environmental study work would take place this year.