Cornelius councilors will place $2.4 million bond measure on May ballot

A unanimous vote by the Cornelius City Council on Monday night will place a previously-defeated $2.4 million library bond measure back on the ballot in May.

Last November, the proposed new library and senior housing project lost at the polls by 76 votes. But at a public hearing prior the regular city council meeting Jan. 6, a citizens’ group strongly recommended that the city give Cornelius taxpayers a second chance to back the project.

Mayor Jef Dalin asked for and received a consensus agreement from councilors to place a resolution on the Feb. 3 agenda that, if approved, would refer the library bond measure back to the voters in May.

The proposed 18,500-square-foot library would occupy the first floor of a three-story mixed-use facility. The other two floors would be constructed as senior housing by project partner Bieinstar, Inc. Total cost of the project would be $12.8 million. The library will cost approximately $4.8 million, with $2.4 million being funded by general obligation bonds and the balance from grants, foundations and donations by the public.

Bienstar officials have agreed to fund the $8 million cost of the housing project. Cornelius residents will not pay for the housing construction or the cost of future operations.

“People have told me they thought the approval of the new library was a ‘no brainer,’ and I feel obligated to give the nearly 3,000 people who didn’t vote another chance,” Dalin said during the public comment section of the meeting prior to the bond resolution vote.

But Cornelius resident Thomas Clough disagreed.

“We voted it down in November,” he said. “I don’t think we can afford this. Our streets and sidewalks need repair, and we have more important and less expensive needs. Maybe in two years, if the economy is better we could afford a new library.

“What happens if the economy doesn’t improve, and we can’t pay for this? This just isn’t the right time.”

Council President Steve Heinrich disagreed with Clough. “Builders and developers say, ‘Why should we come to Cornelius if the people don’t care?’ People need to step up and show that they care.”

“I also support the new library,” said Councilor Dave Schamp. “I’m disappointed in the November vote, but there’s a great deal of support to go forward. This is a complex issue. It takes lots of study.”

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