Library must choose new path forward

Print Article

Flathead County commissioners last month made it clear that they have no intention of owning any library facilities as county property. In a unanimous vote, the commission decided to remove future funding for library facilities from the county’s capital improvement plan — a decision that may impact the county library system’s goals of opening a new library in Bigfork and eventually moving the Kalispell library to a new location.

A new ImagineIF library for Bigfork had been penciled in at $1.5 million for 2020 in the capital improvement plan, and an additional $1.5 million in 2021 was estimated for a land purchase to facilitate the construction of a new Kalispell library. To be clear, the county is still funding library operations at its current level, providing about $1.9 million this fiscal year.

However, their vote to strike funding from the capital improvement plan does send library officials back to the drawing board when it comes to long-term facility planning.

On one hand, we find the county’s decision to be short-sighted, and one that could quash new economic development.

It was pointed out to commissioners that private investors were keen on allotting a portion of a multi-million dollar building to a new Kalispell ImagineIF library because of the valuable foot traffic it could bring to other businesses in the building. Those investors bluntly told the commissioners that their decision to eliminate future funding made them “take a step back.”

We suspect that project could have created a domino effect of redevelopment — and critical economic development — in one of Kalispell’s blighted areas. It’d be disappointing to see that prospect stymied by a lack of foresight on the commissioners’ part.

The commissioners’ vote is even more perplexing when considering the fact that it was the Flathead County Economic Development Authority that played a key role in facilitating the Kalispell Core and Rail Redevelopment project — the exact location the library system is seriously considering for a new Kalispell branch.

Despite all this, the library system still has a viable path to reach its facility goals through private-public partnerships.

The library system is unique in that it has a fundraising partner in the ImagineIF Library Foundation, whereas other county departments are left with only what the county budget allots each year.

The ImagineIF Library Foundation has demonstrated an impressive ability to rally public support for the library system. In fact, the fundraising group recently helped raise $500,000 for the purchase of a building in Bigfork for a new Bigfork ImagineIF library. While they were counting on further assistance from the county, capital campaign efforts to raise the remaining funds for the Bigfork library are expected to continue.

We’ve lauded successful public-private partnerships in the past, most recently the Sperry Chalet rebuild in Glacier National Park. We believe ImagineIF would receive similar support in its efforts to remain a cornerstone of the valley. And given the commissioners’ united stance, it might just be the library system’s best and only path forward.

Print Article

Read More Editorial

Sun Road plan offers bold solutions

September 15, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Challenging times call for extreme measures, and that’s exactly the approach Glacier Park officials are taking with a new management plan for Going-to-the-Sun Road. Inter Lake reporter Kianna Gardne...

Comments

Read More

Mental-health mapping tool is worthy project

September 12, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Those working with behavioral-health issues in Flathead County have a new mapping tool at their disposal that aims to develop a justice system model that doesn’t criminalize mental-health or substanc...

Comments

Read More

Order on e-bikes conjures questions

September 08, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake A recent secretarial order from the Interior Department classifies electric-powered bicycles as non-motorized bikes. While seemingly insignificant at first glance, this order could alter the recreati...

Comments

Read More

Evergreen can overcome latest retail closure

September 05, 2019 at 9:52 am | Daily Inter Lake Kmart announced last week that it will be closing its Evergreen location after decades of serving the community. Liquidation sales will soon begin and by the end of the year the iconic “Big K” store ...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2019 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X