Spanish Fork has been looking into getting a new library for years, but now the city is hoping to get it done by 2022.
The current library was built in 1965, and remodeled in the mid-90s. The population of Spanish Fork at that time was approximately 6,800, said Scott Aylett with Spanish Fork City. Spanish Fork’s current population is over 40,000.
Discussions about building a new city library have been ongoing for probably the last eight years, said city manager Seth Perrins.
A life center proposal that combined a new library with a recreation center and senior center was voted down by Spanish Fork residents in 2015, but the city council continued to discuss how to make the library portion happen.
The current Spanish Fork Library is 12,000 square feet, which Perrins said is significantly undersized for a community the size of Spanish Fork.
The library only has one program room.
“If there’s one program going on, no other activities can be had because there’s no space,” Perrins said. Even the shelf space for books is low, meaning books are being pulled off shelves more quickly than a standard would recommend, Perrins said.
The current library also has only on-street parking, rather than a full-sized parking lot.
Future growth will also be factored in the feasibility study for how much space will be needed in the facility.
“We certainly don’t want to build something that the day it opens is already too small,” Aylett said. “But you don’t want something too big either. So that’s the whole purpose of the feasibility study: figuring out the ‘Goldilocks’ number, what’s just right as far as population and usage and growth.”
“We’re committed to it. The city council’s committed to it. We need a new library,” Aylett said.
A feasibility study starting up will determine over the next few months the specifics of what a new library should look like. Should it be 20,000 square feet? 30,000 square feet? Should it also house some city office functions along with library functions?
Currently, the city council chambers are small and have a bad sound system, Perrins said. They’re looking at the possibility of building a multi-purpose space in the new library that could function for city council meetings as well as library programs. They’ll also be looking at the possibility that the city’s finance office, which Perrins described as “woefully” set up, could be housed in the new building.
Right now, Perrins said the city estimates they’ll need a building at about 30,000 square feet that would cost a projected $12 to $14 million.
The biggest issue in making a new library happen is funding.
Perrins said the direction from the city council was to find a way to pay for the new library that didn’t rely entirely on one funding source.
The city council voted Aug. 6 during a Truth in Taxation hearing to increase the amount of property tax revenue collected by the city by $180,000 to go toward planning costs for the new library such as hiring an architect.
The goal is to slowly increase the property tax revenue collected, Perrins said, with an end goal of generating about $600,000 to cover a bond payment. Spanish Fork city is looking at implementing a $12 million bond by vote of the city council to cover the majority of construction costs.
If the finance office ends up being located in the new building, it would also open up use of enterprise funds to help fund part of the cost, Perrins said.
The new library will likely be located right next to the current city offices, and the city is currently in negotiations to buy a property next door owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The city received a lot of feedback after the life center proposal was voted down in 2015, Perrins said. That feedback included people saying they thought the process was too fast, they didn’t want the library to leave the center of town, and the cost was too high.
“So we spent the last four years thinking about it, planning it differently and better,” Perrins said.
While residents voted down that funding package, Perrins said, but they also heard from many residents who expressed a desire for a library, or said they would have voted for the package if it was just a library without the other components.
“(The city council members) know the residents want a library, because they vote with their actions every day,” Perrins said. “This is used by more than 80% of the households in Spanish Fork. So they know it’s undersized and overused.”
“The need hasn’t changed,” Aylett said. “If anything it’s gotten greater since then. The council sees that, the residents see that. That’s why we’ve come to the drawing board with a different funding mechanism we can use to accomplish this goal.”
Because the feasibility study is just now beginning, there are no concepts for what the library might look like yet, though Perrins said the city will be reaching out for public feedback on what exactly should be included in a new library.
“We feel bad that we can’t show the residents a concept of what the library’s going to look like, but we don’t even know,” Aylett said.
The feasibility study is expected to take four to six months, and the architectural work eight to 12 months. Construction is expected to take about a year and a half, meaning the city hopes to be under construction by spring of 2021 and opening as soon as summer of 2022.