The Coos Bay City Council agreed to spend up to $800,000 to keep the existing Coos Bay Public Library open while moving forward with a plan to build a new library at John Topits Park.
In a work session, the council formed a consensus to allow the city to accept bids to replace the roof at the library and repair rot due to water entering the building. City Manager Rodger Craddock said the cost was a lot more than he anticipated due to the extensive problems.
"I think where we're at today, it's a common belief among staff if we go out in May for a vote, the voters approve the bond, we're probably looking at a good five years before we can actually move into a facility, so we need to make our current library last five years," Craddock said. "Our problem is the library is in disrepair. There's at least two room we cannot use right now. According to our librarian, only one room doesn't leak or have a water feature. So we need to do something to slow down the degradation of that building. If we don't, we could run out of time before the five years is there."
Craddock said city staff looked a lot of options for the library while waiting on a new building, such as renting a different facility or even buying a building that could be used short-term. But he said nothing is available that would meet the city's needs.
"If you were to purchase a building for temporary use, I don't think you'd get the voters to approve the bond," Craddock said.
The city manager said he used an emergency provision to ask for quotes on replacing the roof. He said he expected two bids, each that came in higher than expected.
"It's more than replacing the roof," he explained. "You're going to have roof rot. You have 25 window leaks. If we're going to make the building last, we're going to have to invest a little."
Craddock said the city was under a time constraint if it wanted to get the work done before the rainy season, so he asked the council to form a consensus giving staff the authority to move ahead.
Funding for the roof would come from the Urban Renewal Agency. The city has $3.1 million in the URA, which is enough to cover the repairs as well as other projects planned this year.
While the city council had questions, all the members present agreed something had to be done. Without the fix, the library would likely be forced to close before a new facility was available.
"I don't think we have a choice," Councilor Rob Miles said. "We can't leave the library where it's at. It's not fair to staff or patrons."
With the council in agreement, Craddock said city staff would pick a proposal and bring it to council for formal approval.