Years of planning for a new Woodland Community Library are coming to a head as the library district plans to break ground on the facility next summer.
The 7,500-square-foot project is planned for land on Lakeshore Drive to the east of Goerig Street. When complete, the facility will roughly triple the amount of space the library has at its current location at 770 Park St., which it has occupied for nearly 100 years.
The project is currently in the design development phase and is expected to move toward construction drawings in December, according to the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District’s current timeline. The district serves libraries in Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties as well as Woodland, and also supports the independent Yale Valley Library District.
The district hopes to start the permitting and bid process in April, with a groundbreaking in June. The library is expected to take a year to complete, with it opening to the public in summer 2024, according to the district.
Last year, the district welcomed its newest building as the Ridgefield Community Library opened its doors in July of 2021. That building used the existing Ridgefield Community Center, which the old facility was attached to, as a framework for the project. That library is close to the same size of what’s planned for Woodland at 7,900 square feet.
Unlike that project, Woodland’s building will be constructed from the ground up. Though specifics will be nailed down in the coming months, FVRL Communications and Marketing Director Tak Kendrick said initial concepts include an outside terrace area with seating alongside staples like a teen area, study rooms and a community room.
“It’s going to be about three times the size of the existing Woodland library, so a lot more of everything,” Kendrick said.
A new location for Woodland has been in the works since 2013 when the district commissioned a facilities study that identified the need. In 2017, the district purchased the land for the new spot for slightly more than $1 million.
The project picked up again in December after being on hold for a year. Cost estimates for the initially-planned 12,000-square-foot facility came in $2 million higher than the budgeted $7 million, according to the district. That required tweaking what the building would look like. The district ultimately went with a smaller, 7,500-square-foot building.
“One of the things that happens in that first blush (of the project) is that we want to dream big. Then we need the right size for the reality,” Kendrick said.
The district knew the property it purchased was bigger than what the district needed, Kendrick said, even when looking at the larger building. The location on Lakeshore Drive was too good to pass up.
“We just had such a great opportunity to buy that space. It’s just so perfect for us,” Kendrick said.
Now the district is looking to sell a half-acre of land at the corner of Goerig Street and Lakeshore Drive to the city of Woodland. They hosted a public hearing on the sale on Oct. 3.
As to what the city plans for the parcel, Woodland Mayor Will Finn told the Longview Daily News the property would host a gathering area and a new visitor’s center. The current visitor’s center is housed in a trailer on property on the other side of Lakeshore Drive from the district’s parcel for sale.
A price for the sale will be negotiated between the district and the city, Kendrick said.
The $7 million project has received significant support at the state level, receiving more than $2.5 million in appropriations from the Washington State Legislature’s past two capital budgets. Right now, the project needs to come up with the final $1.5 million which Kendrick said would be reached by a final fundraising push.
“We’re excited to be moving forward and have a bit of a trajectory to get the people of Woodland an amazing library,” Kendrick said.
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