Port Townsend council moves closer to library bond issue election

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The process to determine a strategy for the renovation of the Port Townsend Library as a prelude to putting the measure on the August ballot has been put in place by the City Council.

A proposed bond issue would raise up to $3 million and support the final phase of the library’s expansion — including the replacement of the current single-level, 3,625-square-foot annex with a three-story, 14,420-square-foot structure, which is uncertain because of a fundraising shortfall.

Mayor David King, Deputy Mayor Kris Nelson and council members Deborah Stinson, Michelle Sandoval and Mark Welch voted in favor of approving the plan, while council member Robert Gray was opposed.

Council member Catharine Robinson was absent at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

Over the next month, the city and the library foundation will decide whether the project should proceed as planned or be revised to accommodate diminished resources.

The plan includes an open house at the library April 8 where alternatives will be discussed, followed by meetings where a recommended option will be developed prior to a town meeting April 22.

After public input, the plan will be discussed at a special City Council meeting April 29.

That could be followed up with crafting a November ballot measure at the May 6 meeting.

“This gives us the ability to restart our fundraising and remind people why we started the process in the first place,” said Port Townsend Library Foundation President Chelcie Liu of the plan.

“At the beginning, the library was overcrowded, and anything that doesn’t get us more space will result in our spending all this money and going back to where we were.”

Gray said he opposed the resolution because of the lack of handicapped-accessible parking at the library, restricting access for those who want to attend the April 8 open house.

Gray said he also advocates a State Environmental Policy Act, or SEPA, review that will determine parking needs prior to the bond, while City Manager David Timmons and the remainder of the council said the SEPA review should take place after the bond is approved.

While a SEPA review is required for construction of the library, it is up to the municipality to determine its timing, according to Development Director Rick Sepler.

The resolution also approved the $27,000 cost of the process, which is necessary to commission an architect’s review of all the alternative options that might arise from the discussions.

This includes $5,000 incurred to date, $21,000 for additional planning and $1,000 for reimbursable expenses, according to the resolution.

The original resolution proposed four possible sources to fund the process: library reserves, library operating budget, the parks fund or the 1 percent for arts fund.

The latter two have been eliminated from consideration.

“We don’t want to see parks and the library become adversaries,” Sandoval said.

“If the money for the library comes from the parks, it will create animosity between the two.”

Sandoval said she favors moving the process ahead as soon as possible.

“We have failed to move this forward in a timely manner,” Sandoval said.

“We can’t afford to have this languish any longer.”

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 19. 2013 6:03PM
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