Valley library proposal clears assembly hurdle

A resolution authorizing City Manager Rod Swope to apply for state funds to pay for half of a new Mendenhall Valley library is on its way to the Juneau Assembly.

On Monday, the assembly’s Public Works and Facilities Committee sent the resolution to the full panel for approval.

The nonprofit group Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries has committed one-million dollars to the project, which is estimated to cost at total of 14-million. Friends president Jeff Vogt says it’s important to get it done now, while state funding is available.

“If we let this slip by our fear is that instead of looking at a 7-million dollar project to the city – of which the Friends have already committed a million at least – if we let this slip by at this point in time it could slip by for a long, long time,” Vogt says.

In addition to the Friends money, the city could count the value of the land at Dimond Park, where the new library would be built, toward its half of the project. Juneau Library Director Barbara Berg says other funds could come from an extension of the city’s one-percent temporary sales tax, private foundations, and fundraising.

“There’s potential for Rasmussen [Foundation money]. The Library Endowment Board has approximately 300-thousand dollars available at this time in its major project fund to put toward this, and the Friends are intending to run a capital campaign and other fundraising to support this project,” says Berg.

Applying for the grant now doesn’t commit the city to the project. The assembly will vote on the resolution next Monday.