Local Government

Hiawatha residents to vote on $1.2 million library bond

Bond would more than double space, would not raise taxes

This rendering shows the planned expansion of the Hiawatha Public Library, 150 W. Willman St. Hiawatha voters on Nov. 7 will be asked to approve a $1.2 million bond toward the $4.1 million project. Plans call for doubling the size of the library, built in 1998, with space for an information center, a young adult area and community gatherings. Library supporters have raised $730,000 toward the cost, with a goal of $2 million in donations. Another $1 million will come from local-option sales tax receipts. (Hiawatha Public Library)
This rendering shows the planned expansion of the Hiawatha Public Library, 150 W. Willman St. Hiawatha voters on Nov. 7 will be asked to approve a $1.2 million bond toward the $4.1 million project. Plans call for doubling the size of the library, built in 1998, with space for an information center, a young adult area and community gatherings. Library supporters have raised $730,000 toward the cost, with a goal of $2 million in donations. Another $1 million will come from local-option sales tax receipts. (Hiawatha Public Library)

HIAWATHA — Hiawatha voters on Nov. 7 will weigh in on a $1.2 million bond that would add 13,500 square feet to the Hiawatha Public Library.

Already budgeted into the city’s capital fund, the bond will not raise residents’ taxes.

And city and library officials say its approval should help them raise the remaining fund for the $4.1 million project.

Jeaneal Weeks, the Hiawatha library director, said fundraising efforts have raised about $730,000 toward the goal of $2 million in donations.

Approval of the bond, she said, would open the door to more donations and grant opportunities, she said.

“Right now, it’s getting the referendum passed that’s most important to us,” Weeks said.

Though the city already has budgeted the $1.2 million into the next year’s capital improvement fund, public projects larger than $700,000 must be approved by voters, per Iowa law.

Because it’s a bond proposal, the measure needs 60 percent approval to pass.

The city also has allocated $1 million in local-option sales tax funds toward the project.

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Hiawatha City Administrator Kim Downs said all those revenue streams — the public, the city and private fundraising — make the library expansion a communitywide effort.

“There’s a lot of support,” she said. “When you can show communities working together toward goals like this, that’s a really positive outlook for the project.”

The $4.1 million, 13,500-square-foot library expansion and renovation will more than double the 8,500-square-foot library, built in 1998.

Plans call for the addition of an information center with 15 computer workstations and two study rooms.

The expansion also will create spaces for youth, tweens and young adults. A program space will be added to accommodate crowds at programs and community gatherings.

Weeks said the updates are necessary to manage growing traffic at the library, which she said has one of the highest per capita circulation rates in Iowa and serves 300 people each day on average.

“It’s very needed,” Weeks said. “We are chosen as the home library or the library of choice for a lot of people not from Hiawatha.”

The library, at 150 W. Willman St., will host a satellite voting site from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24.

l Comments: (319) 339-3175; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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