Rendition of new library

Rendition of new library
The New Point Roberts Library Out of the Old Julius Firehall

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Were Working on this Funding Problem. Want to Help?

Sorry to be so slow in getting information out, but i'm waiting for other players to decide how they can help with the library. I can tell you that a half dozen or so very generous supporters have contributed, in total, more than $100,000 to give us a terrific start toward the $300,000 we're going to need to make up for the failed levy. And next week, I'll be going to WCLS to get their advice and, if possible, help. Jack Louws (Whatcom Co. Executive) wrote a very supportive section of his Year End Report in the January All Point Bulletin, pointing out how much Point Roberts Library supporters and true friends had done toward getting this new library funded. It was nice to have his recognition. We're all working on this and when I have more specific news, I'll be back to you. In the meantime, if you're inclined to make a donation, we will happily add it to that $100,000+ I mentioned above.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Next Act

Almost a month since election day and the truly unhappy news that the new library levy put forth by the Park and Recreation District had failed to reach the 60% of votes required by Washington law. Alas, I believe it was the only levy that failed in Whatcom County.  On the other hand, it did NOT fail to achieve a majority+ of votes: over 55% of voters did vote to approve the levy which would have required an average property owner payment of $100 for one year in order to build a new library for Point Roberts.  A library that would have served our community well for decades.

But, what's done is done.  There are two ways forward: first, those of us at FOPRL could just say, "well, the voters have spoken and that's that."  But I don't think that's going to happen because although the voters have voted, the majority of the voters also spoke; and the majority of people in Point Roberts spoke even earlier when FOPRL received many hundreds of individually-identified donations.  FOPRL feels a deep commitment both to those who already donated over a half-million dollars to build a new library at the site of the Julius Firehall, to those who supported the levy, and to our own view of the community's real need for a new, centrally-located, larger, and appropriately outfitted library that will serve us and those who come after us well into the 21st Century.

At the moment, we are working on next steps forward.  We have met with the Park and Recreation Commission and with Whatcom County Library System, our two partners in this project, to review the options for a plan to move this project forward as originally intended.  It has a bunch of moving parts, but we hope to be able to get it finalized by January (given the demands of the holiday season).  We will have to do some further fundraising, of course, but we have already received some encouraging offers of significant help.  And we would be happy to receive more offers, of course!  Just call me.

So, that's it for the moment, but stay tuned!  The Board of the Friends of the Point Roberts Library, and especially Ed and I personally, extend our great thanks for all you have done for this project over the last 5 years.  We look forward to completing this new library which will mean so much to us all when it is finished, and mean even more perhaps because it has been a challenge that we will have overcome together.  A library is a community treasure and we believe we will have that renewed treasure, soon.

--Judy Ross
President, Friends of the Point Roberts Library

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Levy Results

Unfortunately, it looks as if the new library levy has not passed.  The report of votes last night at 5 p.m., with 503 votes counted, had 54% voting yes, and 46% voting no.  A 60% yes vote is required for a levy to pass.  It is unlikely that the final votes yet to be counted would change those figures.

Three of the members of the Board of Directors are away from the Point right now, but when they return we will discuss where we go next.  My guess is that we will also have a public meeting to discuss possibilities.  Sorry; sorry for many things this week, this year.  --Judy Ross

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Facts are Important

The November All Point Bulletin is out now and I see that there are a bunch of “Letters to the Editor” about the new library.  I hope that we have not lost track of the actual existence of facts, but I do note that the two letters in opposition are sort of fact-challenged.  So, here’s an attempt to address that.

Stan Riffle writes with great concern about the Park and Rec District taking on too much debt.  This suggests he doesn’t grasp the difference between a bond and a levy, which you would think he would given that he is a Commissioner at the Fire District.  A bond is debt; a levy is income.  So, the one-time levy is not debt, not something that has to be repaid, not now, not next year, not ever.   The levy will increase property owners’ taxes by, on average, about $100 for one year.  If the levy passes, property owners will pay half of their share of the levy with their first tax installment in 2017 and the other half will be paid with the second installment in 2017.  And that’s it.  No more levy payments, no debt to be paid back, no change in the Park & Rec debt level.  And there will be a new library, significantly increasing the District’s asset values.

Linda Hughes takes the position that a library is not important enough for taxpayers to pay a million dollars.  The most recent cost estimate is not a million dollars, nor even $900,00 as Mr. Riffle asserts, but $840,000.  This includes a substantial contingency fund for the unknown unknowns. The known unknowns have apparently already been resolved during the permitting process: we will not need an entirely new septic system, nor additional parking, etc.  

Perhaps Ms. Hughes also thinks that $840,000 is too much for the taxpayers to pay for a new library.  But, of course, nobody is asking the taxpayers to pay $840,000.  They are being asked as a group to pay up to $300,000, 35% of the cost.  The remainder of the cost is covered by donors who have already contributed $540,000+ to the Friends of the Point Roberts Library for this new library: some of them property owners, but also residents, their relatives, summer visitors, local businesses, Washington philanthropic foundations, and businesses from outside the Point.

The Friends asked for and accepted these donations to reconstruct the Julius Fire Hall into a new and appropriate for decades to come library, and that is what the money is to be used for.  It is not a gift to the Park and Rec District to spend as they want.  The Friends of the Library are saying to property owners in Point Roberts, “We will pay 65% of the costs of the new library.  Will you pay the other ⅓?  Will you look that big gift horse in the mouth?”

Those are the facts of this levy request.

Judy Ross, for The Friends of the Point Roberts Library


Monday, October 24, 2016

A Sign?

There's a sign urging folks to vote for the levy down near the intersection of APA and Tyee.  Both today and yesterday, rainbows appeared above it.  Think it's a sign from above?  Hope so; ballot came in the mail today.  Two more weeks to speak to friends and neighbors, encouraging them to vote Yes on the levy.  We need 60% of those voting to approve it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Levy on the November 8 Ballot

From the All Point Bulletin, October 2016

Over the summer, the most frequent question we heard was “How’s the library project coming?”  That was easy to answer (and the details are in last months APB).  The second most frequent question was, “Why does it cost so much?”   That’s not so easy to answer, but I’ll give it a try.

From the beginning, we’ve talked about remodeling the Julius Firehall for a new library.  That’s how the architect described it in his original plans: most of the outside walls and the slab would be maintained, although there would be a new roof and an entirely new inside.  The footprint was not expected to change.  People might reasonably think that the final cost is high for a remodeling job.

But, the original planning was 5 years ago and in the interim, a radar machine discovered that half of the slab would have to be replaced and the other half would need remediation.  The County decided that a new septic tank would be needed; we may need more parking places.  These have all increased the original estimate.

Five years of inflation have also increased the construction costs, especially.  Two years ago, our Whatcom County Executive told me we’d be lucky to get the project in then at under $325/square foot.  The current estimate is about $336.  There’s a lot of building going on in Whatcom County and further south, which has put considerable pressure on building costs even when overall inflation is not that high.

A public building project (and this library is a public building, owned by the Park and Recreation District) must be put out to competitive bid with the contract going to the lowest bidder.  That means the low bidder could be cutting all kinds of corners to increase his profits.  To counteract that inclination, the county has many requirements for public construction standards that are not imposed on private construction.  For a private job, the private owner looks out for his own interests; in a public project, the county looks out for the public whose money is financing the project.  That extra scrutiny increases costs, but minimizes the chance of shoddy construction.

And, finally, a public building is meant to last.  You build a home, you may expect to live in it for 20 years, but you’ll probably be doing a lot of maintenance, repair, and remodeling during that time.  A public building needs to last longer than a house.   The building materials need to be more durable and thus will be more expensive.  The Community Center has been around for 70 years and has had very little major work during that time (although some has been necessary over the past two years).  The new library will last, too.  Not forever, but long enough so that the community will not be needing to raise more money every 5 or 10 years to repair or replace elements.  

It’s part of our gift to the future: a library that lasts, as we have received from an earlier generation a Community Center that has lasted. 

—Judy Ross, Friends of the Point Roberts Library



From the All Point Bulletin, September 2016

WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE NEW LIBRARY?

The short answer: lots happening, but nothing that’s very visible. There are two strands, though.

First, the funding line.  The Friends have stopped actively raising funds, although we still receive and gratefully accept donations.  The Park and Recreation District has placed an “up-to-$300,000” levy on the November 8 ballot.  The reason for that “up-to” phrase is that by the time of the actual vote, we’ll have a much more solid idea of the actual costs.  But the best estimate now is that to move to construction, we’ll need no more and perhaps less than $300,000.  The total estimate also includes a 10% contingency, so the budget takes account of surprises.

The levy will set a one-time increase in property taxes of 51 cents/$1,000 of property assessment.  Thus, in 2017, owners of a property assessed at $200,000 will pay, one time, no more than $102.00.  And then, we’ll all get a brand new library.  Remember that no one is asking taxpayers to pay $840,000 for a new library.  The Friends have raised $540,000 in private donations from businesses, foundations, and individuals. So property taxes pay only about ⅓ of the costs.  If Bill Gates dropped by and offered to give us $540,000 to build a new library if property owners paid the final $300,000, we’d probably think, “that’s a good deal.”

Second, the construction line.  We have final design drawings and a final budget estimate.  We began the permitting process in July.  That is an ongoing process, but we are pleased to report that the County has accepted the current septic field, but will require a new septic tank.  That is a small cost increase; requiring a new field would be a much bigger increase, so we are pleased with that outcome.  In addition, we are not required to do any wetlands mitigation.  Further, it looks like the issue of additional parking spaces will be resolved in our favor. We expect the rest to go through pretty routinely, but with permitting you never know.  Stay tuned.

That’s what’s happening.  We’re working on a “Vote Yes on the Levy” campaign; the Park District will be getting ready for construction bidding.  It’s a big second stage.  We’re glad that you’ve been with us so far, and hope for your continued support.

Judy Ross
Friends of the Point Roberts Library

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Annual General Meeting of FOPRL This Sunday, 2-4 pm

FRIENDS OF THE POINT ROBERTS LIBRARY 
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
SUNDAY, APRIL 3, 2-4 PM
at the COMMUNITY CENTER

EVERYONE IS WELCOME TO ATTEND!

FIND OUT ABOUT

  • PROGRESS ON THE NEW P.R. LIBRARY
  • NEW WONDERS FROM THE COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM
  • FUTURE EVENTS AT THE LIBRARY
  • USED BOOK SALES: PART OF OUR FUTURE?

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

REFRESHMENTS, DOOR PRIZES, AND A CHANCE TO TALK WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS ABOUT BOOKS AND READING AND LIBRARIES



For Information, ask the Library Staff or contact Judy Ross, x3180.