With just more than 17,000 votes counted, "yes" votes for the bond issue to build a new Missoula Public Library were leading by more than 10 percentage points at around 9:15 p.m. Tuesday.
Seventy-four percent of the votes counted – 7,414 – were in favor of the new library, while 2,505 people – 25 percent – voted against.
"We're optimistic but the anticipation is still there. Missoula seems to be real positive. Hopefully, it won't be too long a night," said Barbara Theroux, co-treasurer of the Bond Initiative Committee.
The bond would fund construction of a “21st Century Library,” with five levels that include spaces for the Missoula Children’s Museum, spectrUM Science Discovery Center and Missoula Cable Access Television.
A&E Architects drew up the design, which would cost a total of $35 million, for a 121,000-square-foot library.
The additional $5 million is being raised by the library foundation in a capital campaign, “All Under One Roof,” which reached $2 million at the end of October.
The bond would mean an increase of $2.34 per month for the owner of a $200,000 home, according to the capital campaign.
The new building will be located one block east of the library’s current location on the 300 block of Main Street.
Local businessman Terry Payne owns the 400 block. A land deal negotiated in February would swap that land with the library's block.
The existing buildings, seven rentals that mostly house college students, would be torn down to make way for the library’s construction, estimated to be finished by November 2019.
The library would stay open during construction.
The capital campaign and library foundation emphasized Missoula’s lack of modern library resources in their campaigns to pass the bond.
Flyers and banners in the library gave voters statistics such as “one in four Missoulians doesn’t have access to a utility called the internet” and “38 seats aren’t enough for 1,500 daily visitors.”