Parks board seeks public input

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Parks commissioners are asking the public to weigh in on how they might best make up the funding gap to transform the old Julius fire station into a new library for the community.

The Friends of the Point Roberts Library (FOPRL), after four years of fundraising, have raised $540,000, exceeding their original fundraising goal. Under a memorandum of agreement between FOPRL, the parks district and the county library system, the parks district will make up the funding shortfall on the project while the library system will furnish and operate the library. The district owns the building and the land on which it sits.

Following a January 22 meeting with project architect David King and Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) director Christine Perkins, parks board president Linda Hughes said they were closer to solid project costs.

“The permit fees were double what we expected,” Hughes reported later at a February 8 parks board meeting.

The latest cost estimate, which includes construction, design, permitting, taxes and a contingency in the event that the septic system needs replacement, is $689,000.

FOPRL treasurer Ed Park said they had looked at a number of options to reduce costs, from a smaller children’s area to phasing construction in stages. “We had discussed finishing it up to lockup and then someone is working on the bridge funding while the exterior is being built,” he said. “We want to keep the momentum going.”

“Whatcom County Library System also agreed to take on a few things” on the list of project alternates, Hughes added, such as the audio-visual system.

“Obviously, there are a lot of things to think about here,” Hughes said. “What’s most important here now is we need input from the public and WCLS.”

A special meeting is scheduled for March 9 at 6 p.m., at which cost estimates, alternatives and possible funding sources will be discussed.

In other parks district news, a work party is scheduled for March 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to clean up garbage being dumped at Baker Field. “If we get enough people, it won’t take very long,” said commissioner Mary Edgley.

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