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Survey: Voters could renew Gladstone library plan

A telephone survey last month showed 61 percent of Gladstone voters would support a new library measure in the city if it didn’t raise taxes.

The survey of 125 voters, sponsored by the Gladstone Public Library Foundation, was conducted to determine what kind of support Gladstone residents had for a new library on the city’s Webster Road property.

After a failed measure on the November 2012 ballot, the city now is considering whether to sell the property. Last year’s measure, rejected by a 44 percent to 55 percent margin, would have enabled Gladstone to build a 19,000-square-foot library to consolidate Gladstone and Oak Grove libraries.

The city, which set aside land for the library in 2007, developed a plan for the project, but voters have yet to approve a measure to use Clackamas County Library District funds and city urban-renewal financing for $7.5 million in debt. Clackamas County has given Gladstone until June 30, 2014, to come up with a plan for a new library; county officials are holding $1.5 million in reserve after demanding the money back in December.

Gladstone’s library project required voter approval because of two measures passed in spring 2012 that restricted the use of urban-renewal dollars and required a vote for any city project costing more than $1 million.

Nancy Eichsteadt, director of the Gladstone Public Library Foundation, told the City Council last week that the Save Gladstone political action committee incorrectly convinced voters that the library would increase taxes.

“We believe voters were given the wrong information,” Eichsteadt said. “Even in its current decrepit condition, the library saves all of us money.”

While 23 percent of voters surveyed say they never use library services in Gladstone, the rest say they use the library to some extent, including “a few times a year” (30 percent) or “more than once a month” (21 percent). Support for the measure was higher among women than men (69 vs. 50 percent), among more Democrats than Republicans (71 vs. 44 percent) and among voters who use the library once a month or more (83 percent).

Eichsteadt warned city councilors on Oct. 8 against considering redevelopment of City Hall to include a library, because support for this type of proposal among voters older than 55 fell below 50 percent. Support for a multifunctional library facility that included an additional city service, such as a City Hall or police station was 52 percent, while support for a multifunctional library facility that included a community or recreational center was 56 percent.

The poll, by Portland research firm DHM, revealed that of the people surveyed who would vote “no,” 29 percent felt a $10 million library was too expensive and 21 percent mistakenly believed their property taxes would increase if it passed.

“We wanted to find out what kind of support currently exists for the new library — which is still desperately needed today,” said foundation board member Colette Umbras. “We wanted a better understanding of why voters would not support it, especially since it wasn’t going to cost them anything.”

Thirty-four percent of respondents believed road infrastructure should be a top priority for the city, followed by library improvements/new library, at a combined 25 percent.



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