New library process moves along

When Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) held their monthly meeting in Point Roberts, director Christine Perkins added the third signature to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that brings a new library for the Point one step closer.

At the October 21 meeting the three-party MOU that has been months in the making was finalized, incorporating the concerns of the three partners in the project: the Point christine_praises_kris_epRoberts park district, WCLS and the Friends of the Point Roberts Library (FOPRL).

FOPRL has been fundraising to transform Julius Fire Station, immediately adjacent to the community center, into a new stand-alone library. After two and a half years of largely local fundraising, the group has raised approximately $360,000.

Their fundraising goal is $538,000, the estimated cost of the renovation in the feasibility plan developed by project architect David King. The group hopes to raise the remaining funds through foundation grants, with a goal of completing fundraising by June 2015.

The parks district owns the station, and would retain ownership of the renovated building. FOPRL asked for a commitment from the district to close a funding gap if the final cost of the project exceeds fundraising efforts.

“The controversial thing for this board has been closing that funding gap,” said parks district chair Mark Robbins at the parks board’s October 13 meeting.

The recent agreement, signed by parks commissioners at that meeting, states, as “the actual cost of renovation of the fire hall is unknowable before the completion of the project,” if the project costs less than anticipated, FOPRL will retain use of the funds to support library operations. However, if the project comes in over budget, “the excess will be funded by the parks district, subject to approval of the voters if necessary to pass an increased or excess tax levy for this purpose.”

The parks district has retained architect David King (who has been working pro bono to date), and will award a construction contract and arrange for project management. wcls_board_meets_in_pr_epThe agreement commits the three parties to work with the architect to make sure their priorities and operational needs are addressed, and gives them final acceptance of the design and construction plan.

At the local level, FOPRL has formed a community design advisory committee to “channel local design preferences and suggestions from any interested community members, in the hopes both of tapping into good ideas and assuring community buy-in to the library design.”

To participate in the committee or give input, contact Judith Wolfman at

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