After 55% of voters rejected the proposal for a new Eudora library, supporters reflected on the results Tuesday night and looked ahead.
Don Grosdidier and Laura Lewis, co-chairs of the New Library Capital Campaign, said they were both disappointed as they looked forward to the opportunities a new library would have created for the community.
“I’m disappointed in the outcome, but committed to the vision the library board has for this project, and I want to continue working towards that,” Grosdidier said. “That path is not always easy, and sometimes you have to take a different path to get where you need to be. My second [reaction] is just gratitude to all of the people who have been a part of this campaign.”
Lewis also said she was grateful for the work of volunteers and everyone involved in the library campaign.
“We have such amazing volunteers and advocates and folks around us who did so much work and put so much effort into this, so their work was really admirable, and we’re very positive that we can move forward, and leverage what we have in our community to the best of our ability, and continue to educate people about why we need a new library in Eudora,” Lewis said.
Library Board President Eric Magette also said he was disappointed, and added that as communities grow, there is rarely a straight path.
“We all want what’s best for this community. We feel like we put a good package in front of voters and gave voters a chance to take a side on it,” Magette said.
Magette added there was a large turnout, which was about 37% of eligible voters. For comparison, about 20% of eligible voters turned out for last year’s City Commission election.
“It’s a huge turnout. It shows a massive investment in our community and that people in this community care, even though they don’t agree on things, they care, and that’s a positive,” Magette said.
Magette said a positive aspect of the election is its cost of $7,000, much smaller than the $30,000 county election officials originally estimated it would cost.
Over $500,000 was contributed by donors for the campaign, and Magette said this money will still be reserved for construction of a library.
All three supporters agreed it was too early to think of next steps for the campaign, and said more conversations regarding the future of the library will occur in upcoming board meetings. The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. March 15 at the library.
“Right now, I think we need to take a step back, take a deep breath and kind of take in what’s happened here,” Grosdider said. “I’m sure that the library board will make some sound decisions about what the next steps will be.”
Lewis said a survey will be sent out to the community within the next few days, most likely on the campaign’s Facebook. The survey will seek to find out why people voted the way they did.
Some community members expressed concerns about the library’s cost, and the impact it would have on taxes. Currently, the owner of a $150,000 home in Eudora pays about $67 a year in taxes. If the proposed library was approved, taxes would have increased to $132 a year for the next 20 years.
Lewis emphasized the need for a new library, despite today’s results. She referenced feasibility studies that show the library is meeting or over capacity.
“We know the library is doing the best it can with that space and with what it has to offer, but we know that a larger space would definitely serve more of our community,” Lewis said.
Prior to the official election results, Library Director Carol Wohlford said she felt optimistic about the outcome.
“And, you know, we like to say, there's no building that lives for around 50 years and doesn't have some kind of a change,” Wolhford said. “And, you know, businesses that are successful grow. In 50 years, we've grown a lot.”
In a statement on the campaign’s Facebook page Tuesday night, voters who turned out for the election were thanked, as well as volunteers for their work.
“The library will continue to serve the community to the best of its ability, and our volunteers remain committed to this project,” the statement read.
Reach reporter Abby Shepherd at email@example.com. Reporter Hannah Nystrom contributed to this report.