Library expansion hinges on voters

Library expansion hinges on voters
By: Crystal Britt
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - In less than two weeks, voters in Cape Girardeau will go to the polls for a special election. An election that could make or break the future of the city's library. On the ballot... Your approval of a nearly $9 million library expansion. About 18, 000 people hold library cards at the library. Most are Cape residents.   Meaning about half the population has been there at least once. Voters might still be asking if this project worth it?
Haley Dodd is only five years old and comes to the library often.  But on Wednesday, it was the first time for grandma to bring her. As for first impressions? "There's not a lot of things for the smaller groups, there's books for them to look at, but I don't see any activities for them", said Marilyn Dodd. Library Director Betty Martin says the children's area is a big problem. It's cramped, and there's no place for preschoolers or the older kids to just hang out.
The master plan for expansion would add 20,000 square feet. In that, a lot more computers. "We have about 15 right now, but between the hours of three and six usually they're all busy and people are waiting", said Martin. Also they want more meeting rooms. "We have one meeting room and last year it was booked by 52 organizations over 460 times", said Martin. Plus, those being tutored would have more private rooms for studying. They're also hoping to add some flare. Martin says, "We need to get back to the 21st century." Martin says, with the help of a coffee bar, Wi-Fi internet, and a drive up window. "People who are coming to pick up an item or drop something off, this way they don't have to get out of their cars."
So what's the bottom line...what will this cost? It would double the property tax for library use. If you own a $120,000 home you'd pay $34 more a year over the next 20 years. It's worth it to some. "Beauty does inspire, and when you upgrade your surroundings, it inspires you to be a part of, and come to check it out.", said Rhon Abraham. It's a measure people like Marilyn Dodd will consider. "If you don't take care of the kids now, what's the future going to look like?"
One other thing to consider. This year's tax bills no longer include the road tax. So, property owners in Cape will still see a decrease, even if they approve the tax increase for the library.
The special election is February 6th.