Oct 29, 2007

Troutdale Library Public Meeting Summary

Tonight's meeting, hosted by Multnomah County Commissioner Lonnie Roberts and Director of Libraries Molly Raphael, was remarkably informative and civil. I arrived about 45 minutes late and missed the summaries of the three remaining sites: the old Troutdale Thriftway at Stark Street & Troutdale Road; The "Discovery Block" in downtown Troutdale, and the "Gateway" site, located at the NW Corner of 257th & Halsey. The latter two would be new construction to be leased by the library.

Troutdale's new library size would be about 6,000 SF of leased space, and would hold about 26,000 volumes.

I would estimate attendance for the meeting was about 40-50 folks, a very good turnout. A large contingent of neighbors from Troutdale's Sandee Palisades and Sweetbriar neghborhoods attended. They were unanimous in favor of the Thriftway site, due to its close proximity to their neighborhoods. Most mentioned the existing parking and ability to walk to the library as main selling points of this site.

Surprisingly, many of these neighbors didn't have much of an opinion of downtown Troutdale. Some said downtown wasn't safe for kids. Others said there wasn't enough parking downtown. A few said downtown had too much traffic. More than a few said they didn't think downtown Troutdale had much to offer while their kids were at the library, while the Thriftway site had a dry cleaners, a Dairy Queen, and Dottie's. (Personally, I think downtown Troutdale has many restaurants and shops that are friendly places to hang out while your kids are at the library, wherever it ends up being located.)

Several folks from Corbett gave their opinions, which seemed to be evenly divided between support for the Thriftway and the downtown Discovery block location.

Business folks from downtown Troutdale spoke mostly in favor of the Discovery block site. Some said they believed Troutdale's downtown area was where public services such as libraries should be located. Some said a library was special, and didn't deserve to be stuck into an old grocery store. Some said the addition of a new library downtown would give new vitality and interest to Troutdale's downtown area.

I didn't detect much support for the Gateway location, but remember, I missed the first part of the meeting.

Every one who wanted to speak was given an opportunity to voice their opinion. Everyone was polite and respectful of opposing viewpoints. (This was refreshing to me, which means I've accumulated enough time as a city councilor to be surprised when folks with opposing viewpoints actually respect and listen each other and don't engage in mindless rhetoric, interruptions, eye rolling, or head shaking.)

The next step: the library board will make a recommendation to the Multnomah County Commission, probably sometime in November. At that time, the library will be given authorization to negotiate a lease with the chosen site.

As for yours truly, I think any of the proposed sites would be fine. Have books, will travel! I have no preference.

Thanks to all of my fellow neighbors in Sandee Palisades and Sweetbriar for showing up and expressing your opinions. And many thanks to Commissioner Lonnie Roberts and Library Director Mollie Raphael for coming out to Troutdale and listening to us.

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