Battle Ground, Wash., to Build New Library

The Fort Vancouver Regional Library District board has agreed to pledge $750,000 from its reserves for a new Battle Ground library, a move that could help speed construction of the building.

By a 5-2 vote Monday night, the board chose to better the initial $630,000 request from Friends of the Battle Ground Community Library.

The higher amount puts the booster group 75 percent of the way toward what's needed to purchase space for the library in the new Battle Ground Village development. That's critical to winning large grants offered by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and Meyer Memorial Trust, organizers said.

"It doesn't promise that we'll get them, but we can compete," said Jane Higgins, who chairs the Friends group with her husband, Don.

"It's a great leap of faith on the board's part to commit that money," Higgins said. "They believe in the project, and they believe in us. It's a happy Halloween out here. We got a treat, and not a trick."

If all goes well, construction of the proposed library building could start next summer. Developer Dennis Pavlina has given boosters until March 2008 to close a deal on the building.

Monday's decision "moves the project along dramatically," said Bruce Ziegman, library district executive director. He predicted the total building cost can be lowered from $3.8 million to about $3.4 million.

That would leave about $850,000 more for the Friends to raise, through donations, auctions and other campaigns. The boosters hope to raise another $1 million, however. That way, the group could snap up another 6,000 square feet and occupy all of the planned 19,000-square-foot building.

"We're all on board for that," Ziegman said.

Jerry King, library board member, said he would have preferred one more crack at floating a bond issue in a pared-down Battle Ground voting district. That tactic helped build the Three Creeks Community Library in Salmon Creek and, thanks to voter approval in September, is the key to building two new libraries in Vancouver.

The last two Battle Ground library bond measures failed to reach the 60 percent approval needed, pulling about 51 percent support in 1999 and 56 percent in 2005.

Pavlina, who was part of a sizable turnout Monday inside Battle Ground City Hall, praised the outcome. His Gold Medal Group plans to build 175 detached homes, 40 townhouses and 250,000 square feet of commercial space at Battle Ground Village, plus another 350,000 square feet of commercial space just south.

The new library would rise in the Village portion, near the corner of Rasmussen Boulevard and Grace Avenue. It could be ready anytime from 2008 to 2010, depending on how soon boosters reach their ultimate goal, Pavlina said.

"It's a great contribution to the community and the project," he said. "They have hit a very significant milestone."