A blank space in Clark County’s library map is starting to get filled in.
As a first step, property has been acquired for a Fort Vancouver Regional Library branch in Brush Prairie.
The undeveloped land is adjacent to the WinCo Foods outlet just north of Prairie High School. The parcel at Northeast 119th Street and 112th Avenue is part of the Bowyer Marketplace development.
It is just west of the intersection of Northeast 119th Street and 117th Avenue/state Route 503, one of the county’s major north-south routes.
It’s an area that will continue to grow — something that the retailing giant is counting on. If you want to forecast population increases, “You can’t go wrong” with WinCo’s economists, trustee Bill Yee said at the library board’s Jan. 16 meeting.
With about 25 percent of its residents using Fort Vancouver cards in the last year or so, the area is ripe for more library services.
“This is in the mid-20s, which indicates that there is not access,” said Amelia Shelley, executive director of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District.
Several years ago, library officials started looking at storefronts in area retail centers as possible library facilities, Shelley said. “That involved sizable rent.”
Vancouver developer Killian Pacific sold the 0.96-acre parcel at a steep discount to the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District Foundation. It was appraised at $1.4 million and was purchased for $200,000 plus closing costs.
“We are excited to be able to actualize our company purpose of enhancing community with our contribution of property in bringing a new library to the Brush Prairie area,” Lance Killian, president of the company, said in an email.
Did You Know?
• The name of Bowyer Marketplace comes from the Bowyer's Par-3 Golf Course that closed in 2006 after 48 years.
Driving distances between branches
• Vancouver to Cascade Park, 7 miles.
• Vancouver to Three Creeks, 7 1/2 miles.
• Vancouver to Mall Connection, 5 miles.
• Mall Connection to Cascade Park, 5 1/2 miles.
• Mall Connection to Three Creeks, 7 1/2 miles.
• Battle Ground to Cascade Park, 12 miles.
• Battle Ground to Mall Connection, 10 miles.
“Public libraries have and will continue to be cornerstones of healthy communities — enabling access to information and resources and for facilitating literacy and improving the overall quality of life,” Killian said.
The nonprofit foundation will sell the land to the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District at the same $200,000 price.
The projected service area between east Vancouver and Battle Ground includes two ZIP codes with a combined 2017 population of about 95,000: That’s a fifth of Clark County’s total population.
About 25 percent of the residents in those ZIP codes (98662-Five Corners and 98682-Orchards) used library cards in the last year. In all the other Vancouver metro ZIP codes, 33 percent of the 234,000 residents used a library card.
The Bowyer Marketplace development is roughly midway between the Battle Ground Community Library and The Mall Library Connection, which are about 10 miles apart.
At 9,000 square feet, it won’t be as big as most branches that now serve library patrons in that part of the county. (Cascade Park is 24,175 square feet; Battle Ground is 14,356 square feet; The Mall Library Connection is 3,575 square feet.)
Library officials will focus on particular needs during the design phase, Shelley said.
“We’re so close to the high school that we’re thinking about collaborating on after-hours space” in the library for Prairie students, she said. “Maybe there will be more youth space because of the number of young families in the area.”
A funding plan for the project has not been determined. It’s also too early to speculate on other aspects of the project, including the library’s eventual name and projected opening date.
The Three Creeks Community Library got its start in 1997 when Fred Meyer Inc. agreed to sell a piece of property at its Salmon Creek retail center at cost. The Three Creeks library opened on Jan. 12, 2002. But that isn’t an accurate predictor for the pace of the Brush Prairie branch.
“We have three other projects in the hopper,” Shelley noted.
Friends of the Library groups in Washougal, Woodland and Ridgefield are working to get new facilities in their communities, and the Brush Prairie project won’t jump ahead of them, Shelley said.