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Central Point OKs library building

CENTRAL POINT ' After months of negotiations between city staff and county officials, the City Council gave final approval on Thursday for plans to build a new library next to City Hall.

The two-story, 16,700-square-foot building will serve as a library on the ground floor with city offices and room for future growth on the upper level.

Deputy County Administrator Dave Kanner said funding for the project would be split between the county library system and the city.

Basically the city will fund any portion of the project that they will benefit from or that will be required as a result of making the building a two-story, he said, such as a new council chamber, public plaza and elevator.

— The library portion of the project will be funded with just over &

36;1.7 million from a countywide &

36;38.9 million voter-approved bond measure. The city will fund its portions with a small capitalization loan to be repaid from the general fund over 20 years.

We will not raise any taxes or fees whatsoever in completing this project, said City Administrator Phil Messina.

Messina said the intergovernmental agreement approved Thursday was necessary to iron out issues involved with combining city funds and bond funding for a single project on the 8,188-square-foot site.

One of the oldest, busiest libraries in the county, the existing library branch is bursting at the seams in an old 2,600-square-foot storefront on Pine Street and is without public rest rooms and parking.

A far cry from the site used since 1970, preliminary plans for the new, 8,000-square-foot facility call for plenty of book and reading space, plenty of parking, public conference space, rest rooms and a plaza.

Plans for an annex to City Hall have been in the works since the original building was designed in 1980 by the same architects who will design the new building ' Skelton, Straus and Seibert of Medford.

Messina said the new building would be extremely attractive and welcomed by the community.

This is a great deal for both sides, he said.

I really think we're all going to be really pleased about the new library. Especially since the old one is way past its useful life and is extremely insufficient for the size of the city. We're 14,000 people and I've been in towns of 5,000 that had much bigger libraries than that one.

A committee of residents, city staff, architects and county officials will begin the design process within a few weeks and construction should be completed within two years.

Buffy Pollock is a free-lance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com