BELGRADE — The Belgrade Community Library has been a staple in this town for years, but the library is becoming more and more limited on what it can do for the community unless they make some big changes.
“A building isn’t nearly as important as to what happens in the building,” said fundraising campaign manager Chase Rose.
And a lot has been happening inside the library.
“We really offer programming from womb to tomb. Taxes, we do exercise programs from yoga to low impact cardio,” said Belgrade Library Director Gale Bacon.
Not to mention the traditional services of books, technological needs, and education resources. But the library says they’ve outgrown their current building.
“We’ve been one of the fastest-growing libraries in the state of Montana for a number of years now, but we’ve gotten to the point where we’re drastically undeserving a community this size,” Bacon said.
Not to mention external challenges.
“There’s not enough parking. There’s not enough room to build on,” said community volunteer David King.
This is why the library is asking residents for support for a bond that would pay for a new building for the library, which in turn gives the police station its own space.
“It actually makes sense because the police need a place to go to. They’re too big for City Hall, and they could move into the library,” said King.
Which the Belgrade Police Department is in favor of.
“We are very supportive of this library project. If we’re fortunate enough that it passes, we’ll be able to move our operations over,” Belgrade Police Chief Dustin Lensing said.
The bond, if approved, would cost the average taxpayer around $120 to $150 per year, but if it doesn’t pass, the library could lose millions of dollars.
“Here’s what's at stake: $2.2 million. The Belgrade Library Foundation has secured thus far $2.2 million, the largest campaign ever in the history of this community in support of this project," Rose said. "But if the bond doesn’t pass those gifts are at risk of never coming to fruition.”
Residents have until Sept. 14 to make a decision and turn in their ballots.
The bond is for a new library building and also a community center, which would include an event space for weddings, public gatherings, and other events.