By Meg Olson
With commission chair Linda Hughes opposed, Point Roberts Parks and Recreation District commissioners voted to ask voters to support a one-time levy to make up the funding gap for a new library.
At a work session preceding their regular April 11 meeting, commissioners discussed what steps needed to be taken to get the project rolling. “We need to finalize the design, the foundation question, then we’re in a position to go to the county to start the permit process,” said commissioner Stephen Falk.
Commissioner Bennett Blaustein made a motion to accept the current design from architect David King, which transforms the existing Julius Fire Station into a new library with the addition of several “bump-outs” to add additional space for a meeting room and an expanded children’s area, and proceed with permitting.
“The friends of the library don’t want any design other than what we have right now,” Blaustein said. “I think what people expect is what they’ve been seeing for the last four years. I recommend we accept the current design with an improved foundation.”
The current design without the additions had a preliminary cost estimate of $689,000, from design and permitting through construction and taxes. The estimate also includes a contingency in case the septic system needs to be replaced.
The motion passed with Hughes opposed. Foundation improvements suggested by Tom Bradbury at a public meeting in March were referred back to the architect for consideration.
“In his professional opinion he can work with what’s there,” Falk said, adding the current design calls for two-third of the building’s slab to be replaced. “It would be above water level and waterproof. If he doesn’t believe it’s needed we don’t want to incur an additional $40,000.”
Commissioner Mary Edgley said if they were asking the voters to fund a building, they shouldn’t cut corners. “If we’re building this building, let’s make something that 20 years from now we’re not looking at and regretting what we didn’t do,” she said.
Hughes, however, wanted to see any project stick within the $540,000 raised by the Friends of the Point Roberts Library (FOPRL), without asking voters for more. “I would like to see the library built with what they have,” she said. “I think we can put up a $540,000 box and have a beautiful library.”
Blaustein said they would need to submit a levy request to the county by August 2 to be on the November ballot, which would allow for construction in 2017, which would mean a short timeline for getting a final cost estimate. Hughes said they were able to submit a levy request for “up to a certain amount” to the voters and give the county a final number for the actual levy by December. “That would take the rush off,” she said.
With Hughes opposed, commissioners voted to take a one-time levy request to the voters in November, with a dollar amount if it is available or with a “not to exceed” amount. A $250,000 one-time levy would cost the owners of a $200,000 home $86.
Judy Ross, newly elected FOPRL president and chair of the new library fundraising committee for the last five years, said she was glad to see the parks district taking ownership of the project.
“We are very pleased to see the parks district moving into the next phase of this project,” she said.