Planning begins for new Bigfork library

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ImagineIF Libraries will begin to lay the groundwork for a new library in Bigfork with a community idea session planned Monday.

The meeting runs from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Community United Methodist Church in Bigfork and aims to gather public input about where the Bigfork community would like to see a new library constructed.

ImagineIF Bigfork operates in a 1,440-square-foot space in a shared building in downtown Bigfork, with no room for expansion and a lack of parking.

“There’s no parking at all, especially in the summer,” ImagineIF Libraries Director Kim Crowley said.

A facilities master plan completed a year ago calls for more than quadrupling the Bigfork library size with a 6,200-square-foot facility that could handle community growth over the next 20 years.

Crowley said a minimum of half an acre, and ideally at least three-quarters of an acre, would be needed to allow for parking and landscaping around a new facility.

“The first thing is to secure a piece of land,” she said.

Himmel & Wilson Library Consultants, a husband-and-wife consulting team from Wisconsin, completed the master-plan study, doing site inspections and poring over data to determine future space needs for the main library and its three branches.

Existing facilities in Bigfork, Columbia Falls and Kalispell are all considerably undersized, are land-locked and lack parking, the facilities report noted.

Flathead County had at one time earmarked funding for library construction in its capital improvement plan, initially estimating $2.2 million for a Bigfork library, $4.4 million for Columbia Falls and $16 million for a new main library in Kalispell.

The library projects later were removed from the five-year capital improvement plan until funding plans are solidified.

“There’s nothing in the current capital plan,” Crowley said. “What the Library Board wants is to explore is the possibility of starting with Bigfork and building a library there.”

The facilities report recommends a funding scenario of one-third private money and two-thirds public funding. It also suggested adding a 3 percent inflation factor to the total construction cost for each year beyond 2014.

Questions or comments about the Bigfork library project can be emailed to Crowley at kcrowley@imagineiflibraries.org; or call 758-5826.


Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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