Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Aug. 4, 2020

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Cascade Park library wows crowd

New community hub opens with fanfare in east Vancouver

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Megan Dugan, second from right, a circulation clerk, helps Heather Cyr, right, hceck out books after the Cascade Park Community Library grand opening on Tuesday.
Megan Dugan, second from right, a circulation clerk, helps Heather Cyr, right, hceck out books after the Cascade Park Community Library grand opening on Tuesday. There also are several self-check stands, and an automated return facility visible from the lobby. Photo Gallery

Hanna Gales, 6, didn’t need any speeches, refreshments or automated checkout stands — though all those would come shortly.

She had a bright table, a cozy chair, a fresh book in her hands. And her mother.

“I need you to read this,” Hanna directed, in a matter-of-fact tone. “Right now. Out loud.”

Happy to comply was Sandy Gales, who plunged into the opening page of “Hotel for Dogs.” This, after Hanna pushed aside an issue of “American Girl” magazine, explaining, “It’s all ‘girly. I don’t do girly stuff. I do dog stuff … and boy stuff.’”

The large crowd that swept into the new Cascade Park Community Library for its grand opening on Tuesday held an equally strong view.

Cascade Park Community Library

o Location:

600 N.E. 136th Ave., Vancouver.

o Hours:

Tuesday to Thursday,

9 a.m. to 8 p.m.;

Friday-Saturday,

9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

o Don't miss: Friends of the Library book shop, window view of automated book-return system in action, both in front lobby.

The verdict: Ten times larger than its predecessor and flush with thoughtful amenities, east Vancouver’s new branch library has the right stuff.

“It’s fantastic,” said Hyewon Choe, used to squeezing into the smaller local branch that had perched on Southeast Hearthwood Boulevard.

“It’s not comparable, you know,” Choe said. She claimed a choice seat in front of the gas fireplace at the new library’s east end, as rain slapped against soaring windows. She’d already picked out a Korean-language cookbook, something she never would have found before, she said.

A few feet away, Jan Dabney sat in her walker/rolling chair, absorbed.

Besides the quiet, adult nooks and separate, well-appointed meeting rooms, the library has a sprawling children’s zone replete with soft seat cushions, Lego toys and stuffed animals.

There’s a bright red teen area, where Jayleen Dabney, 14, an Evergreen High School freshman, used a computer catalog to hunt down another Shakespeare title to add to her stack of classic novels and mysteries.

“She’ll have these books read probably in a week and a half,” Jan Dabney said of her daughter, who shares her non-television credo. “We both just eat books.”

A resident along Northeast 28th Street and dependent on disability payments, Jan Dabney said the library would be transcendent. It has room for her walker, is closer to home and is a new community hub, she said.

“This is perfect. It will add a lot to our lives,” she said with a wide smile. “I will make full use of the fireplace.”

Built right next to the busy Firstenburg Community Center, an exercise mecca for area residents that opened in 2005, the library beautifully complements Evergreen High, a WinCo food store, post office and other nearby services, Jan Dabney said.

“In the last four-and-a-half years, this neighborhood has changed sooo much,” she said. “It’s just opened up, like a brand new city for us. Now, if only my doctors would move out here.”

Cascade Park Community Library

o Location:

600 N.E. 136th Ave., Vancouver.

o Hours:

Tuesday to Thursday,

9 a.m. to 8 p.m.;

Friday-Saturday,

9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

o Don’t miss: Friends of the Library book shop, window view of automated book-return system in action, both in front lobby.

The site is no coincidence, said civic leaders, who sounded two common themes: A major new prize for east Vancouver and appropriate bookend to the Firstenburg facility, with which the library shares about 300 parking spots.

After exercise for the body, visitors are invited to “exercise your mind,” said Bruce Ziegman, Fort Vancouver Regional Library District executive director. “This will be the ‘mind facility,’” he said.

Steve Stuart, Clark County commissioner, recalled his own youth. Trips from small-town Ridgefield to play and swim at Vancouver’s Marshall Center were a “big day” adventure that peaked with a stop at the nearby FVRL main library, he said. Now, eastside residents can share a similar thrill, he said.

The new library cost about $10.2 million and was designed by Opsis Architecture of Portland and Johnston Architects of Seattle. Union Corner Construction of Vancouver was the general contractor.

Funding came from a $43 million bond measure approved by voters in September 2006. That measure also is paying for the flagship Vancouver Community Library, now under construction in downtown Vancouver and due for completion in 2011.

Ziegman recounted two ballot failures — at 56 percent and 59.4 percent approval, with 60 percent required — before success came three years ago. “Sixty-three (percent) is my favorite number,” he said.

That triumph also swelled in Jan Dabney, who said she knew what a new library would mean for her and her children.

“I voted for it every time. When it finally passed, I said, ‘Yeah!’” she said.

In his final, major outing as Vancouver mayor, Royce Pollard praised the dedicated library boosters and supportive voters who made the vision a reality.

“This is amazing. What a great Christmas present for the city,” he said. A city that should be “very proud of you, and all the great people who voted for this.”

And for those who didn’t?

Pollard couldn’t resist one last zinger: “I hope they get coal in their stocking.”

Howard Buck: 360-735-4515 or howard.buck@columbian.com.

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