By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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The fundraising effort is now just $7,000 short of its $175,000 goal for community donations, said Paula Barnes, director of the North Olympic Library System, which oversees libraries in Forks, Clallam Bay, Port Angeles and Sequim.
The $168,000 collected so far includes a “major boost” in the form of an anonymous donation made in memory of James and Nikki Klahn, longtime library patrons and Forks community members.
Barnes said the donor did not want her to reveal the exact amount of the donation.
That boost puts the library system close enough to its goal for her to go to the board of trustees for permission to complete the design process and put the project out to bid, Barnes said.
The next board of trustees meeting is set for 5 p.m. Feb. 28 in the Raymond Carver Room of the Port Angeles Library, 2210 S. Peabody St.
Community donations join $600,000 in money from the library system for funding the Forks renovations, which library staff estimates will cost $775,000.
That figure includes the estimated costs of final design work, renovation, rent and storage costs for the Forks branch’s materials while construction is under way, as well as a contingency fund for unexpected issues found during renovation.
“[The $775,000] is the whole project,” Barnes said.
The renovations will include replacing the library building’s roof and air-handling and electrical systems, improvements so extensive they will require the library to be closed for the estimated six to 12 months of construction, Barnes explained.
Library staff members plan to move the branch’s roughly 36,000 books, magazines, CDs and DVDs into storage and a temporary “pocket library” that Barnes said she hopes will be located somewhere near the existing building at 171 S. Forks Ave.
“We have to find somewhere,” Barnes said. “Going six to 12 months without a library is just too much.”
Barnes said the library system has budgeted about $33,000 for the design work, which Jerry Schlie of Beaver has been working on the past three years.
In a Tuesday interview, Schlie — through his firm, Jerry Schlie Design Inc. — said he has been working furiously within the past five or six months on the final designs as additional community funding has come in through Friends of the Forks Library and other sources.
Schlie, who worked on the designs for the Clallam Bay Library renovation six years ago, said the most significant chunk of Forks branch renovations will be the roof, which is currently flat and not well-suited for the wet weather on the West End of Clallam County.
“[A flat roof] barely works in Port Angeles. It really doesn’t work in [Forks],” Schlie said.
Both Barnes and Schlie praised the timing of the most recent community donation, with Barnes adding that going out to bid in the next month or so will allow the library system to take advantage of a still relatively low-cost construction climate.
“We hope we’ll be able to get the best bang for the buck by bidding the project as soon as possible,” Barnes said.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.