Fate of library building opens long-term planning discussion

Any plans for the Port Orchard Library building will need to accommodate existing transit activity.  - Charlie Bermant
Any plans for the Port Orchard Library building will need to accommodate existing transit activity.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

The Port Orchard City Council’s list of seven specific requirements for redevelopment of the library building could develop into a blueprint for downtown, as discussed at a council study session on Tuesday night.

“There are a lot of ideas, but we don’t have a governing plan for downtown,” said councilman Jerry Childs. “We don’t have anything to guide us into the right direction for the redevelopment we need.”

The Port Orchard Library is bursting beyond its capacity and the building is in need of repair and renovation. The city is reluctant to fund these renovations, as their cost could exceed the value of the building.

Additionally, the existing downtown redevelopment plan includes a new library, to be situated on top of a parking garage.

The new plan is at least three years in the future.

Library officials have said they are willing to make do in the current location for that long, if only to avoid the expense and inconvenience of moving twice.

In the meantime, restaurateur Amy Igloi Matsuno and frame shop owner Mallory Jackson have both expressed interest in purchasing the building and developing a new business.

Jackson would like to open a restaurant/gallery, while Matsuno has not yet disclosed her plans.

Because the city owns the building, the law requires the building be designated as surplus before it can be sold.

As a result of the interest the library structure, the Public Property Committee met on Aug.13 and developed a list of requirements any prospective buyer would need to meet.

Listed first is the consideration for the library itself, making sure it has an adequate home before it is moved out of the current building.

The list includes the recruitment of a qualified development team, a strict schedule, a financial analysis, consideration of parking, accommodation of the existing financial structure and sound financing.

After some discussion, Mayor Lary Coppola said the list could be used on a broader basis.

“It might be a good idea to apply these seven steps to all of our redevelopment,” he said.

Library Branch Manager Kathleen Wilson said she was pleased the council put the needs of the library at the top of the list. And while each party can terminate the lease by giving notice, she expressed the hope that the library would be able to move directly into its new building from the current location.

“I’m glad that the council recognizes that the library is a crucial asset to this area,” she said. “We bring a lot of people downtown.”

After the meeting, Matsuno said she thought the seven requirements were fair.

Jackson chose to not comment until she had read them more carefully.

The council plans to address the seven requirements as well as other past proposals as the first step to develop a master plan for downtown.

This is scheduled to occur at the Oct. 20 work study session.

There may be another option for the building, aside from control by either Jackson or Matsuno.

In order to create a waterfront park, the removal of the building should be considered, according to Port Orchard Planning Commission Member Gil Michael.

“The question is whether the library building should be there at all,” he said. “There have been plans for redevelopment of the entire waterfront that don’t require a building in that location. We should look at all the available options.”

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