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Committee to recommend library site by mid-May

The process of choosing a Troutdale library site is moving slower than planned, but officials will soon be ready to recommend a location to Multnomah County commissioners.

Negotiations on lease costs for the two remaining downtown sites are taking longer than originally anticipated, said June Mikkelsen, executive assistant to the Multnomah County Libraries director. Still, library officials will present a recommendation for either the Gateway Corner or Discovery Block site to the county commission by mid-May.

'We've had some questions about the proposals,' she said, referring to documents outlining lease terms that developers submitted to library officials in March. 'And we wanted to get answers.'

Mikkelsen declined to offer specifics but stressed that the questions were financially oriented.

'We won't make a decision based solely on costs, but it's an important consideration.'

In December the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners eliminated the former Lamb's Thriftway supermarket site at 282nd Avenue and Stark Street from active consideration for an approximately 6,000-square-foot library. The remaining two sites are both on Historic Columbia River Highway in downtown Troutdale. The Discovery Block is at the corner of Southwest Second Avenue, and the Gateway Corner site is at Southwest 257th Drive.

Molly Raphael, Multnomah County Libraries director, called both locations adequate in terms of space, so she and fellow officials are working to determine the relative financial viability of the two sites' lease arrangements.

'What we don't know are the costs per square foot so we can do a comparison,' she said. 'What's the value we get? What we can afford? Those sorts of questions.'

Library officials had hoped to have all information from the remaining developers by late April. However, additional interviews were necessary with Gateway developer Dean Hurford and Mike Greenslade of the Discovery Block to discuss proposal specifics.

'We're about a month behind,' Mikkelsen said.

Either site will involve a mixed-use development with the library situated on the building's ground floor. Both projects include plans for on- and off-street parking and will meet the structural needs of a typical Multnomah County library branch.

'There's good pros and cons for each one of them,' Mikkelsen said. 'They're both very much in the running.'

When library officials present their recommendation to county commissioners in May, they hope to get a response at the same meeting. Library officials will announce the date of their presentation in the next several days.

'Sometimes they do that and sometimes they ask that we (consider) some additional work,' she said. 'We hope to have enough information so they'll be able to make a decision at that meeting.'

Despite the slight setback in the evaluation process, Raphael says the project can still meet its projected 2009 completion timeline.

'It's definitely on track,' she said. 'We wanted to give both owner-developers an opportunity to make the best case.

'It's a long-term commitment,' she added. 'We want to make sure we consider all the facts we need to consider.'