Missoula County approves library’s proposed land transfer

By Martin Kidston

The Missoula Public Library received final approval Thursday to transfer property with a neighboring land owner to construct a new library if voters approve a $30 million construction bond this November.

Missoula County commissioners approved the transfer on Thursday. The City Council granted approval last month.

“We have to do ballot language now,” said Honore Bray, director of the Missoula Public Library. “That’s the last of it, and to try to get people to realize the need.”

Since announcing its plans to construct a new facility, library backers have cleared a number of hurdles. They’ve won county approval to place the measure on the November ballot, and were granted approval from both the city and county to swap property with Terry Payne.

Payne owns the city block just east of the current library. The transaction will enable the library to stay open while the new facility is built, so long as voters approve the bond measure.

“The land swap is a tremendous opportunity,” Frank Scariano, chair of the Foundation for the Missoula Public Library, said recently. “The library’s mandate is to stay open, so this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Also last month, a coalition of library supporters launched a bond committee that is working to promote and pass the measure this November

Supporters are looking to privately raise $5 million to accompany the bond, and Bray said they’ve secured nearly half of it thus far. She said the fundraising will continue.

“It’s going well,” she said. “They’re about half way to their goal.”

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at info@missoulacurrent.com