New Lake City library plan shelved —at least for nowLAKE CITY -- It's back to the drawing board for advocates of a new public library.
LAKE CITY -- It's back to the drawing board for advocates of a new public library.
Voters here rejected a $4.9 million bond referendum on Tuesday to build a new facility, defeating the measure by a decisive 54-point margin.
"Quite honestly, I was disappointed," said Lake City Mayor Jerry Dunbar. "But they sent a message to us and now it's up to us to go back and develop a new plan."
Both supporters and opponents of the referendum complained that not enough details were spelled out in the plan, leaving voters with the feeling they were writing a blank check.
Three town hall meetings held in the run-up to Election Day sketched only broad outlines of the new facility, according to City Council member Ray St. Martin, a supporter of the plan. While several options were presented, including a downtown location and a spot at the former Home Pros Home Improvement Center, no final address, architectural drawings or price tag was included.
He argued the lack of concrete details doomed the referendum.
"You need to at least show people an address," he said.
St. Martin, who will retire from the council at the end of his term this January, said council members will need to have a firm price tag, location and drawings in place before reintroducing the measure back to Lake City voters.
"We need to take it back and say, 'Here, this is what we came up with. What do you think?'" he said.
Some opponents of the referendum, however, say it's not just the lack of details, but the price tag that repelled voters on Election Day.
Lake City resident Colleen Nelson, who supports a new library but voted against the referendum, said council members would need to exhibit "good, old fashioned common sense" to find a suitably-priced facility that voters could support.
A $4.9 million price tag would amount to $71 for the owner of a $100,000 home, according to a recent city study. At town hall meetings, the price was touted as less than the cost of one take-out pizza per month for an individual homeowner, according to Nelson.
"A lot of people feel that right now, they can't afford that pizza," she said.
While they quibbled over the referendum presented to voters, neither supporters nor opponents of the plan reached Thursday questioned the need for a new, larger library.
Asked Thursday why more space was needed, Lake City library Administrator Sherry Mooers pointed to the stacks of books and papers crowding her backroom workspace and said "just look around."
"There's not nearly enough space for our or the community's needs," she said.
Built in 1967, the community has long outgrown the 4,800 sq. ft. facility, according to Mooers. A 1999 feasibility study commissioned by the city advocated for a library four times the current size to meet demand.
Mooers, who was hired on after the previous administrator retired in August, said she wasn't surprised by Tuesday's vote. She argued that library supporters will need to start looking for other avenues of funding if they hope to build a new facility.
"We kind of knew how big of a hill we'd have to climb," she said.