By Judy Ross
The new library is a collaborative project; the Friends of the Point Roberts Library (FOPRL) agreed to do its best to raise $538,000. The park and recreation district agreed to make the Julius Fire Hall available for renovation, to do its best to provide any gap funding that was needed and to supervise the reconstruction of the fire hall which would continue to be the district’s property. Whatcom County Library Services agreed to furnish the completed library building with necessary furnishings, equipment and human resources.
Last month, FOPRL informed the parks district that it had completed its active fundraising and that $540,000 was available for the project. The architect who carried out the feasibility study in 2012 provided us with an updated design and costs last month.
The increased costs largely arise from the discovery (after an x-ray examination of the foundation) that it would need to be replaced. In addition, we are advised that we need to include a much larger inflation factor than anticipated, and that the building may need a new septic system. Finally, a number of features were added to the design over the four years.
After receiving this information, representatives of the three organizations met with the architect and pared back additional features. Even with that, we are expecting a $150,000–$200,000 increase in costs. A new final cost estimate will be available in several weeks (taking into account the changes made in the meeting).
The parks district will be determining the next steps as it is responsible for any gap funding. From the FOPRL’s perspective, there are several possibilities:
FOPRL could agree to release the funds it has raised to begin construction in the spring and take the building to lockup (board members have indicated they would support this).
The parks district could then put a levy request on the ballot in the August or November 2016 election and, assuming the levy passed, the final interior construction work could be completed by the end of 2016 or shortly after.
Alternatively, put a levy request on the fall ballot and, if it passes, begin construction in spring 2017, with completion expected by the end of 2017.
Finally, the parks district could request a loan from the state to be repaid over a period of years.
All of the options would require additional funds to be generated through property taxes. There are approximately 3,000 individual properties in Point Roberts, which means, if it were a one-time levy, that the average property owner payment would be $50–$70.
If you have ideas, concerns or questions about all this, the parks commissioners will be holding public meetings. The next regular meeting will be Monday, February 8, at 7 p.m. in the community center.