Parks board prepares for project

With the Friends of the Point Roberts Library (FOPRL) approaching their fundraising goal, and most of the design and engineering for the conversion of the Julius fire station completed, the local parks district has put a procedure in place to move forward with the project.

At their October 14 meeting parks commissioners unanimously approved a motion authorizing the chair to approve expenses for the library project that are consistent with the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between parks, the county library system and FOPRL, contingent on a sign-off from FOPRL that they consider it a reimbursable expense.

Judy Ross, chair of the FOPRL fundraising committee, said the committee currently had $510,000 in the bank and have funds pledged that should allow it to meet its fundraising goal of $538,000 in the near future. “We have enough, but enough for what,” Ross said. “We will have enough to meet the goal but maybe not for additional expenses.”

Recent examination of the Julius fire station foundation revealed the footings do not have rebar, parks board chair Mark Robbins reported. “They could build footings alongside the existing ones,” he said. “It’s an extra expense but not the $50,000 a whole new building would cost.”

“At some point, we’re liable,” commissioner Mary Edgley said, as the district is committed through the MOU to making up the shortfall on the project once FOPRL has met its fundraising goal. Ross said the district might absorb a small shortfall, but a larger one would have to wait for next November to go for a levy election, delaying the project by a year.

The board also approved changing the current lease of the building to Richard Cleland from a 90 to a 60-day termination notice. “That seems reasonable since we’re probably a year out,” Robbins said.

Commissioner Stephen Falk disagreed, preferring a 30-day notice. “I think it’s not impossible we could be doing something next summer,” he said. “I’m not quite as pessimistic as I was about our timetable.”

Commissioners agreed it might be time to move the project towards permitting. “We might go to the character plan committee next month and show them the fly-through and plans,” Robbins said.

Pauline DeHahn attended the meeting on behalf of the historical society, looking to take over the current library space for a museum once the new library is complete. “It’s a good fit to put a historical museum in a historical building,” she said. “It’s time to get our local history out of private homes and into the public eye.” A small portion of the historical society’s collection of photos, negatives, archives and artifacts is on display in the small meeting room at the community center, but society members store most of it.

The food bank has also expressed an interest in the space.

Robbins had asked for public input in a letter to the editor published in the October All Point Bulletin asking for public input into how the space would be best used. He reported one response in favor of a museum, and another from Annelle Norman representing Circle of Care indicating the group would like to use the space, perhaps in conjunction with the food bank.

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