Photo by Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer
Residents are invited to review and discuss the newest plans for an expanded Fayetteville Public Library during three input sessions scheduled this week.
Fayetteville Public Library officials will host three public meetings this week to discuss the newest plans for an expanded campus at the library, located at 401 W. Mountain St.
Wednesday, July 6: 5-6 p.m.
Thursday, July 7: 12-1:30 p.m.
Friday, July 8: 8-9 a.m.
For more info visit faylib.org.
The meetings come about a month before a city-wide special election on Aug. 9 to decide whether to increase property taxes to help fund the expansion.
If approved, the library’s current 1-mill property tax will temporarily increase to 3.7 mills.
The additional 2.7 mills would cost taxpayers an extra $54 each year for every $100,000 worth of property owned. It includes 1.2 mills for construction bonds and 1.5 mills for operating costs. Once the construction bonds are paid off, the tax would be lowered to 2.5 mills.
Officials have several times said that the facility has reached its capacity much quicker than expected, thanks to an overwhelming increase in the city’s population.
“The library was designed to be a 20-year building, but 10 years in, now 11 years, we’re at capacity in almost every measure,” library director David Johnson said in May.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent official estimates showed that Fayetteville added over 1,600 residents from 2013 to 2014, more than any other city in Arkansas. It was the third straight year Fayetteville had led the state in population growth estimates.
Library officials hope to utilize the City Hospital property across the street as part of the planned expansion. The library has been working to finalize its purchase of the land from Washington Regional Medical Center, but that deal has been held up in court since descendants of the donors of the land first challenged the ownership in the Arkansas Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court. An appeal that would complete the $2 million sale has twice passed the courts, but the deal could remain tied up if the challengers continue their battle.
Specific details of the improvements are expected to be discussed during the public meetings, but tentative expansion plans would nearly double the size of the library’s campus, including a new two-level southern wing and an open-air plaza for concerts and community events on the hospital land. Officials said a smaller plan could be utilized if the land deal falls through.
Johnson, along with architects Jeffrey Scherer and Jack Poling of Minneapolis-based Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, will be on hand during the public meetings to discuss designs and potential cost estimates.