Referendum on $142 million library bonds approved

RALEIGH, N.C. — A $142 million library bond referendum is one step closer to being on the ballot in Wake County this fall.

What you need to know

The Wake County Board of Commissioners approved the $142 million bond referendum, moving it closer to inclusion on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Concerned citizens are expressing their desire for funding to expand the size of the Green Road Library and many of its resources.

Dr. María Rosa Rangel said the majority of Green Road Library users are ESL or immigrants who do not have Internet at home.

Bond referendum must meet four criteria before being ratified

The Wake County Board of Commissioners approved the first step Monday afternoon at its monthly meeting. The bond referendum would provide funding for the construction of new libraries in Rolesville and the Apex Friendship area, replacements for the Atenas Drive and Wendell libraries, the expansion of the Fuquay-Varina Community Library, and the renovation of several other libraries throughout the county.

One of the locations chosen for the renovation is the Green Road Community Library. The Green Road branch would receive $3.5 million of the $142 million under the current wording of the bond referendum.

Many concerned citizens spoke about the Green Road Community Library during the public comment section. Dr. María Rosa Rangel spoke on behalf of many who speak English as a second language and immigrant communities who use the library.

The vice president of the North Carolina Society of Hispanic Professionals said the amount of space inside the Green Road Library should be expanded for his community.

“I felt very sad for my parents who live there,” Rangel said. “It’s interesting, as a father it broke my heart to see how small he is.”

Rangel said there is a need to increase available space and updated resources within the library.

“I live in Apex, an affluent area. I am privileged to have a library that has a variety of books that I expose my child to. When I think about the kids that go to this library (Green Road) and see them, they are a product of Wake County Public Schools. I think we deserve better,” she said.

Rangel said many of this library’s patrons use the location because they lack Internet at home and are actively learning to speak English.

After the meeting, Rangel spoke at length about the role Green Road plays in the community she advocates for. She said dedicating more money to this particular site will result in an economic benefit not only for them but for society as a whole.

“They go to the library to get technology assistance, because nowadays when you apply for a job, you have to do it online. It is also a hub where immigrants gather to connect and build relationships because they are new here. So they are trying to figure out how to navigate the system,” Rangel said.

A petition has circulated online to support additional funding for the Green Road expansion.

For the bond to make it to the ballot this fall, two more steps must be taken.

Board commissioners must vote to enter the bond order and set a date for a public hearing on June 17.

Commissioners must then adopt a resolution asking for the referendum to be on the ballot after receiving public comments on July 8. Once this third step is final, the bond referendum will officially be on the ballot.

The library bond referendum is separate from Wake County government’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year. Final approval of WCG’s proposed $2.1 billion fiscal year 2025 budget is scheduled for June 3.