By Meg Olson
With five bids before them the partners on the new library project have agreed to try and share potential additional funding needs.
Bids were opened on August 23 with HB Hansen coming in with the low bid. Their base bid was $781,000 with Home and Garden of Everson coming in second from the bottom at $788,000.
Parks commissioner Stephen Falk said that the funds raised and contributed by two of the three partners – the Friends of the Point Roberts Library (FOPRL) and the Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) – came to $820,000. The local parks district’s contribution is the building itself. With additional project costs of approximately $80,000 not included in the bid, Falk said they had a budget shortfall of approximately $40,000. In addition, asbestos abatement, estimated at $25,000, will need to be addressed before the building project can move ahead.
At an August 30 special meeting parks district commissioners voted unanimously to cover the cost of asbestos abatement on the Julius fire station, a necessary first step to any remodel of the building. “We can afford to use some of our reserves and still have enough budget carryover next year,” said Falk.
The low base bid does not cover alternates, such as meeting rooms or air conditioning, and WCLS director Christine Perkins said the latter had proven crucial at several other of their facilities. She suggested her board would be amenable to covering that item and could perhaps contribute additional funds to the project.
FOPRL president Judy Ross said she would go back to her board and crank up their powerful fundraising machine. “I’ve been approached by a number of people with interest in contributing what could be matching funds,” she said. “Whatever it is we need to do it quickly.” The bids expire on September 23.
Several audience members at the August 30 meeting expressed strong concern about HB Hansen’s ability to do the job, based on their experience with the builder on other projects. Falk said he will gather information about the bidding parties for the parks district’s September 11 meeting, as well as what the district’s legal options were in accepting other than the low bid.