A year ago, we were reeling from the news that the new library levy on the November 2016 ballot had failed to get the required 60 percent pass rate by just a few votes. And then 2017 rolled in and with a New Year spirit, we began raising money for the library again. Back at the beginning, in 2010, we had expected to need $540,000. But because of rising construction costs, we now needed an additional $300,000. That was the $300,000 we didn’t get from the levy.
Over a surprisingly short time, community supporters came to the rescue with well over $150,000 and the Whatcom County Library System (WCLS)board of directors changed its policy about supporting capital projects for libraries. The basic principle was that the community needed to have already raised two-thirds of the cost, which we had done. Thus, by summer, we had corralled that additional $300,000 with WCLS’s help. The Point Roberts Park and Recreation District moved forward with putting the new library plan out to contractors for bids.
Disappointment came again, when the initial request for bids brought no response, and then again when the second round bids came in higher than our resources: we needed at least another $80,000 to execute the building plans and to cover additional costs that weren’t part of the construction contract. But again the community came through, helped by WCLS, ensuring that the childrens’ space and the meeting space would be the originally planned size and that the building would have air conditioning.
The original plans were then entirely funded, with a sizable contingency fund, and the contract was awarded to HBHansen Construction, the low bidder. (As a public agency, the park and recreation district is required to take the lowest bid.)
As autumn worked its way, asphalt was dug up, sections of the Julius Fire hall were pulled down, new footings were set in, the water meter and fire hydrant were moved to appropriate places, and concrete was poured. Then came new roofing, new walls – new everything. This will go on throughout the winter and into the spring. Perhaps, if all goes well, weather and all, the building will be transformed by May. After that happens, WCLS will take over furnishing the building, and the landscape, too, will be transformed. And by the end of summer, we’ll all be in our new library.
It’s been a real community effort and it will be a real community library. Perhaps none of us will go into the library on the first time without thinking about how many, many people worked and donated to make this dream a reality. As years go by, we will all come to take its existence for granted. But at this moment and for the months to come, it seems a near miracle. Thanks to everyone! There are stars in all our crowns!
Judy Ross, Friends of
Point Roberts Library