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LIBRARIES: WEST VALLEY: COUNTY OFFERS TO OPEN FACILITY 1 YEAR EARLIER IF CITY ACQUIRES NECESSARY 4- OR 5-ACRE SITE.

Efforts to speed up the development of a new West Valley library began this week with a search for the right site somewhere in Hunter.

The possibility of accelerating the project - and extinguishing a smoldering feud over library services in West Valley City - was suggested by County Commissioner D. Michael Stewart.In a meeting with the City Council, Stewart said the S.L. County Library System would be willing to advance the projected opening date of a large, new library by one year if the city acquires the necessary four- or five-acre site.

Library Director Eileen B. Longsworth said it will take "at least two years" to complete the library once the land is found. Under optimum circumstances, money for the project could be appropriated in 1992, and the facility completed in late 1994, she said.

The county's offer to accelerate the process comes in the wake of a threat by West Valley to establish its own library system. City officials have been studying the option since February, when Acting City Manager Karen S. Leftwich submitted a report on comparative library services to the City Council.

According to the report, the existing West Valley Branch at 2880 W. 3650 South is too small; its books are outdated and in disrepair; service, equipment and parking are inadequate; and capital improvements and operations funding have not kept pace with the community's needs.

"West Valley residents and taxpayers deserve library books and materials of a much higher quality than they are presently receiving," the report said.

The report estimated that the city could build its own 24,000-square-foot library for about $4 million and fund its operations with the $1.2 million in taxes that West Valley residents currently pay into the county library system.

Faced with growing complaints about the county library, Mayor Brent F. Anderson and council members ordered regular discussions on the options. Leftwich said those discussions will continue despite the ongoing search for a county library site. However, she conceded that some of the political tension over the issue has eased.

Longsworth has argued throughout the discussions that the county system offers higher quality services at a lower cost than a city-run library. And even if the city decides to build its own facility, it probably couldn't do it any quicker than the county, she added.

In a letter to West Valley officials, Longsworth noted that Sandy had also contemplated starting its own library and had gone through much the same debate several years ago. But after comparing the costs, "there was little benefit seen by citizens (of Sandy) in withdrawing from the county services," she said.