Why I’m Voting Yes for the Library | Guest Column

Like many islanders, I had sticker shock at the $20,000,000 estimated cost of the new library on Spring Street. It stopped me in my tracks: Do islanders need such an expensive new facility, especially when it will increase our property taxes during what is already a harsh economic time? After serious consideration, and with help from the library’s very informative Building Project page (https://www.sjlib.org/library-building-project/), I have decided to vote yes on the library.

Here’s why:

$20,000,000 is a lot of money (only $12,000,000 of which would be paid through taxes), but construction costs are higher now and are unlikely to come back down. The whole construction plan can be seen at https://www.sjlib.org/library-building-project/.

This might not feel like the time to take on a big financial burden as taxpayers, but the reality is that it’s a 20-year plan to pay $12,000,000 and most property owners would only pay $45-$85 per year in additional taxes. In perspective, that’s 6-10 fancy coffee drinks per year.

The old building on the site will be demolished no matter who develops the property, and the library has a great plan for recycling as much of it as possible, which probably won’t be the case for anyone else.

Why move in the first place? Some folks say the library feels adequate to our needs already: “There’s hardly ever anyone in there anyway!” But what if the library were different? Think about why you might not use the library very much now: What if there were office rooms where you could meet with coworkers without disturbing others? What if there was room for more books? What if the kids area was separate so the whole space was quieter and more inviting, and kids could still have fun in a safe place after school? Besides, what about everyone who sits in their cars in the parking lot using the internet, whether for lack of workspace inside or for a desire for privacy?

This is our chance to build what San Juan Island has needed for a long time: a multi-use community center for people of all ages, where islanders can gather for free, find inspirational and educational resources, have fun, and get reliable internet (something a lot of people still don’t have at home). We don’t have a rec center, arcade, or really anywhere for kids to go after school except the library. We are losing cafes and restaurants where people can sit and use the internet. We have fewer common spaces than ever. With so many beloved businesses closing, people are worried for the character and integrity of our town. I think now is actually the perfect time to invest in this project, because it’s an investment in our future as a community. We may not be Seattle, but we deserve an awesome library that will support islanders’ needs for many years to come.

Glenn Hendrick,

San Juan Island