Letters to the Editor: November 2016

The Editor:

The proposed $300K library levy proposed by the Point Roberts Park and Recreation District poses a real problem. Personally, I am in favor of the library project; however, we need to examine the facts as a matter of good business. A memorandum of understanding does exist from some four years ago between the Friends of the Point Roberts Library and the parks district to make up the projected $60-100K shortfall. The current amount for the new library is now closer to above $900K, and the proposed new levy of $300K, plus the already-raised $540K, still leaves a
shortfall.

The parks district has already donated the building and land ($100K) for the library. Given that the district already has $250,000 of debt from a levy passed two years ago for capital building improvements, then adding another $300,000 of debt with this levy brings them to $550K in debt. That will bring them to roughly 10 times debt to current annual operations levy income. This represents a dangerous position for any viable business and puts our parks district operation at risk of failure since they cannot ask for more funds until this new levy is paid off. No district in Point Roberts operates with this kind of debt structure, nor should they be allowed to do so by Whatcom County. (Ed. Note: the levy is a one-year levy meaning it will be assessed and paid off in one year.)

The majority of the property owners (taxpayers) in Point Roberts (approximately over 70 percent of property owners) will not have the right to vote for or against this levy. It is paramount for those of us who do vote to consider our fellow property owners with some common sense. Spending $900,000 or more on a new library is just not prudent. A new approach to this over-budget building project is needed. Voting No to the new levy will give the parks and recreation board a clear path to make the decision to build a new library, but within a more reasonable budget.

Stan Riffle

Point Roberts

The Editor:

Many times I have entered the Point Roberts Library and stated: “This is the best library with the best librarians in the world.” It wasn’t/isn’t idle talk. I mean it sincerely.

Libraries are one of the special gifts to a community, they give immensely, they allow the homebound to travel the world, they provide information on whatever you wish to pursue, and they entertain. They are there for each and every one of you, which is why it is so necessary to approve the levy this November 8 on Election Day.

Patricia McCairen

Point Roberts

The Editor:

This letter is in support of the one-time levy for the library on the November 8 ballot. Our local library has been working in a too-small space for way too long. The space our great librarians work in needs to be larger to function easily. We all deserve to have space to stretch and enjoy our
library.

Our library offers us the benefits of borrowing books and videos from an extensive county- and state-wide collection. With an expanded space, we would have more books and videos readily available in our location. Many online resources are available as well, some only available for use at the library, such as ancestry.com. Yes, you can search your family history for free at the library!

Currently, the space allocated for computer lab and work space is a small table with four chairs and a table with two computers. Don’t we deserve more?

For a $200,000 home, your property tax would increase $102 for one year only, just under $2 a week. What is our children’s future worth? They are the people who will be taking care of us, the baby boomers, as we age even more. Let’s give them and us the access to all the free information out there.

I have fond memories as a child going to the library every week, getting my stash of books to enjoy for the week. To be honest, I still enjoy getting my stash of books to read and escape to every week. Please vote Yes for the tax levy on November 8.

Jessica McVey

Point Roberts

The Editor:

This letter is a follow-up to my letter in the October All Point Bulletin supporting Proposition 2016-1 to raise funds for the new library. Opponents have argued that the tax levy should be defeated. Their position is deeply flawed for several reasons.

First, the notion that using the old Julius Fire Hall would limit development along Gulf Road makes little sense. There are several lots that could be used for new businesses in the commercial corridor. They’ve been there for decades with few showing interest.

Second, the proposal that a new library should be built at Baker Field is wildly unrealistic. Erecting a new building there would be far more expensive than the planned renovation. An entirely new foundation would be required, utilities brought in, a new septic system installed, paved driveways put in and maintained, parking spots set up. Other costs would be incurred for a new design, architect fees and permits. Baker Field is far from the commercial center of Point Roberts and would almost certainly result in reduced use of the library. It is unclear how a project like this would be funded.

Third, the money raised by the Friends of the Point Roberts Library can only be used for the project currently before voters. Legal constraints would prevent the use of these funds for construction
elsewhere.

Fourth, the claim that the final costs for the library on Gulf Road would run upwards of a million dollars is out of line with the formal estimates presented by construction experts and architects.

Finally, defeating Prop. 2016-1 would put the entire community back into a limbo state with over a half-million dollars that cannot be spent and no progress made on our much-needed library.

I reiterate my call to support the levy and get Point Roberts a state-of-the-art library.

Arthur S. Reber

Point Roberts

The Editor:

Point Roberts had our first Tiny TED Talk on October 8, and I’ve got to say it was well received – one participant is so stoked he wants a story in the newspaper, thinks the idea was brilliant and sent me a very useful list of future participants.

Sponsored by the Whatcom County Library System, there were five speakers. The first was a former commercial fisherman, Tom Carney, captain of his own crab boat. He told of being washed overboard as a greenhorn, and living with the Aleuts out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Next, our resident master quilter, Judy Ross, showed us the new learning curve she is on, making Japanese-style quilts out of very humble materials like rags and old cleaning cloths, but to very exacting specifications.

Third, gentleman diplomat Campbell McCluskey spoke of his experiences in Yemen, and modeled a gift from people there, a roomy light blue and appliqued robe. Fourth was world traveler/philosopher Paul Ferry, who often travels alone, but finds that not always lonely or undesirable. Lastly, our local poker expert and author, Arthur Reber, spoke with passion about the game, and gave us all a few hints.

Presentations of just 10 minutes turned out to be a guide more for the participants, than completely workable, as it would have been disruptive and rude to interrupt until the tale was told. Each was followed by a few minutes of Q&A, and at the end some refreshments. The atmosphere was mellow and relaxed, and the talent was all local. Expect another one in February.

Kris Lomedico

Point Roberts

The Editor:

Your November ballot will include a proposed levy: Proposition No. 2016-1-Continued Library Facilities Renovation Levy. The proposal would authorize Point Roberts Park and Recreation District to levy for excess taxes in an amount not to exceed $300,000, six times the amount of our yearly operations budget. I am the current chairperson of the Point Roberts Park and Recreation District. I oppose the levy request, and I feel you deserve to know why.

This is my fourth term serving as one of your district commissioners. I joined the district with a view to preserve and protect Point Roberts park and recreation lands, facilities, programs and activities. The proposed levy funds would be spent on a nearly $1 million renovation of a garage. True, it’s a park district asset, but it will be open to the public for one sole purpose and only part-time. I support the library, I really I do. I just don’t support the use of park district taxes for this costly renovation, especially considering the limited use of the building.

In 2017, the current park district operations levy will expire and we will once again be asking you to support another tax levy to support the continued operations of the park district, including the community center, Baker Field, the seniors lunch and activity center, and many other valuable programs and activities. I feel that any taxes raised by the district should be used for park and recreation purposes.

The park district has provided unwavering support to the library for over 46 years, and will continue to do so. There are other options available. I’m voting no to this proposed levy.

Linda Hughes, chairperson

Point Roberts Park and

Recreation District #1

(Ed. Note: Hughes was the only board member to vote against placing the proposed levy on the November ballot. 

In October 2014 the parks district board, of which Hughes was a member, unanimously agreed to enter into an agreement with the Friends of the Point Roberts Library (FOPRL) and the Whatcom County Rural Library District under which FOPRL would raise the majority of the funds but that  if the project came 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.”)

From the APB website’s
comments section:

The Editor:

Lifeforce has instilled the respect of people, animals, and the ecosystem in Point Roberts since 1993. We have provided free educational displays for the Orca Center and was saddened when we heard that it may not be included in new park plans. We were ready to install new displays. We have offered our services to the Whatcom County Parks and Recreation Department and hope that it will be decided to keep this important education center.

We will contribute Point Roberts flag designs that respect all life.

Peter Hamilton

Lifeforce

The Editor:

Supporters of the levy to raise funds for the new library building prepared the following statement which appears in the 2016 Voters’ Guide. But in case some APB readers did not see it, I think it would be in the public interest to make it available here:

“Public libraries are more than books and computers. They are community hubs where people gather to meet, talk and explore. Libraries in small communities like Point Roberts are essential parts of a town’s public services.

“The Point Roberts Library has remained basically unchanged since the 1940’s. The Friends of the Point Roberts Library has raised $540,000 from foundations, businesses, and individuals, which covers about ⅔ of the renovation’s cost. Property owners are being asked to provide only the final one-third of the new library costs.

“The new library will have 2,500 square feet (a significant increase from the current 900 square feet); more computer stations, areas for adults, teenagers and children to sit, read and use library materials; and a meeting room available to the community.

“The levy places a one-time property tax increase of $0.51 for each $1,000 of assessed value: a house assessed at $200,000 will have a one-time assessment of up to $102. If the levy passes, the Park and Recreation District will put the project out to bid. Please support our library and our entire Point Roberts community by voting Yes.”

Stephen Falk

Point Roberts

(Ed. note: Falk is vice-chair of the Point Roberts Park and Recreation District board of commissioners.)

  1. Patricia Turner Birchall January 14, 2017, 1:21 pm

    In response to Ms. Hughes who seems to have never seen an athletic funding she won’t approve, may I point out that you can go online or to written reference books, and you will find long entries of the great libraries in history. Libraries last. Athletes and Athletic facilities rarely do. Books require exercise of the mind. We need more thinking and intelligence, not less, in this world.

    Reply

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