▶️ The Deschutes Public Library withdraws its project for a new “central library”

Plans for the much-discussed, voter-approved Central Library are on hold after the Deschutes Public Library pulled text edits and map repositories.

The text amendment was the first step in the annexation of lands at the north end of Bend.

But as Central Oregon Daily News reported last week, the city council did not support the library’s request for an exception to develop the property near Robal Rd. and Highway 20.

The Deschutes Public Library’s withdrawal of its proposed map and text changes for its proposed central library location puts a wrinkle in voter-approved plans to improve several area libraries.

“We are going to build our new library in Redmond. We will be remodeling all of our secondary libraries,” said Todd Dunkelberg, director of the Deschutes Public Library. “This will delay our ability to make upgrades to our East Bend or Downtown Bend library, as these are dependent on the presence of a central library.

“The other part of the link was that we promised voters that we would build a central library, and we will continue with that. We’ll have to come together as a board and figure out what it’s going to look like.

The library district considered three ways to obtain approvals to build the proposed central library on the 12-acre parcel inside the urban growth boundary but not yet slated for development by the city.

The district decided to research a proposed text change that would have allowed a public body like the library to begin development within the boundaries of urban growth without an area plan or master plan.

The City of Bend Planning Commission recommended approval of the library text and map changes, but the majority of city councilors did not support them.

“It was an awkward discussion. We were asked to make exceptions to the rule knowing that this area has no sewer or water,” said Mayor Sally Russell. “The 40-acre master plan is very intentional. This is a really valuable area that we have integrated into our urban growth perimeter. We want to be sure that the planning is really well done.

Dunkelberg said the library project is a public benefit for the entire community.

“Delaying it is hurting our community and so it’s frustrating,” he said. “We have to remember what our aspirations were when we got into this business. This is to provide world-class service to our community.

Had the Library District confirmed the rights to the parcel before it was purchased, Mayor Russell said there might have been a better way forward.

Library director Dunkelberg says he wants voters to know their support for a central library will be honored, but it will take up to a year longer than originally planned.

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