FARR WEST — For now, the expansive plot of land north of Wahlquist Junior High School across 2700 North is an open, undeveloped field, green with vegetation.
In time, though, it could become home to Weber County’s sixth library, the Northwest Branch of the Weber County Library System.
Weber County and library officials have long discussed the next addition to the system, and the growing area around Farr West, Plain City, Marriott-Slaterville and points to the west has been identified as the area that would need a facility. The five libraries currently in the system are located in Ogden, Huntsville, North Ogden, Washington Terrace and Roy.
“The library system has always known that area of the county was growing quickly,” said Spencer Stokes, a member of the library system’s Board of Trustees.
The City of Farr West owns the vacant 9.85-acre parcel north of Wahlquist JHS and west of Farr West Elementary School and has tentatively agreed to pledge the site, or part of it, for a new library, said Lynnda Wangsgard, the library system director. And while selection of the site as home for a new library has yet to be set in stone, plans to build a new facility are edging ahead. Weber County officials met with the Board of Trustees last Tuesday to discuss the next steps in the process, weighing possible funding schemes.
No timeline for the process has been set, Stokes said, but officials “are moving ahead with the planning process.” County Commissioner Jim Harvey, a proponent of building a sixth library, says the county is in “an exploratory stage.”
Wangsgard said the next step is crafting a business plan outlining potential costs (still to be determined), how to fund the library going forward and more. That, Stokes said, could be prepared and presented to county commissioners over the summer. Still, that would hardly end what’s likely to be a drawn-out process. Any proposal that emerges will have to pass muster from the public.
“It’s clearly something we would need the support of the county commission on. We’d need to sell it to the community,” Stokes said.
Then there’s the potentially delicate question of how to pay for a new library. The county last year created a special fund for the library system, aiming to create a pool of money for larger capital projects, including upkeep of existing facilities. That won’t likely be sufficient even if it’s tapped, though, and Stokes suspects a property tax hike could be required, bringing more money into the county’s library fund.
“It’s not a might. It will require that it be increased,” Stokes said. Help from the private sector could also be sought.
Library officials tout the proximity of Wahlquist JHS and Farr West Elementary to the proposed new library location in Farr West, making for convenient access by students from the two schools. And while no proposed designs have emerged, officials say the new facility should be on par with others in the system, with books and other resources and public gathering space.
“We don’t want to short-change the folks in that part of the county. We want them to have the same quality and outstanding facility available that we have throughout the rest of the county,” said Diana Allison, another library trustee.
Stokes envisions a library on par with the Pleasant Valley Branch in Washington Terrace, finished in 2009 and measuring 38,835 square feet, according to the library system website.
Weber County voters approved a $45 million bond in 2013 for a major overhaul of the county’s library system. That covered the cost of overhauls to the libraries in Ogden, North Ogden and Huntsville and reconstruction of the facility in Roy.