Ballot proposal discussed for Sequim Library expansion

SEQUIM — If the community agrees to back the effort, the Sequim Library will get a significant makeover in coming years.

The North Olympic Library System’s board of trustees unanimously agreed last Thursday, Feb. 22, with an ad hoc committee’s recommendation to pursue all-new construction — rather than a major remodel — as it looks into expanding the facility at 630 N. Sequim Ave.

A ballot proposal could go to voters as early as the November general election, according to a project timeline.

Margaret Jakubcin, library director of the North Olympic Library System — which oversees public libraries in Sequim, Port Angeles, Forks and Clallam Bay — said the committee that studied two primary options — remodel versus new construction — opted for a rebuild over a remodel when they saw how similar the projected costs are.

Cost estimates provided by NOLS indicate new construction is about 10 percent more than remodeling the facility.

Staff estimates that, for comparison, a 15,000-square-foot “reused” (remodeled) building would cost about $9.6 million while a newly-constructed building of that size would cost about $10.4 million.

At 17,000-square feet, a “reused” facility would cost about $10.66 million, while new construction of the same size would cost about $11.7 million.

“I was struck by how close the two options are [in terms of cost],” board President Mark Urnes said last week.

“It [new construction] seems to be the fiscally responsible option,” trustee Betty Gordon said.

Other board members Elaine Fredrickson, Jennifer Pelikan and Clea Rome agreed in unanimously approving that staff would pursue the new construction option.

“The total project costs are up in the air; anything we’re voting on tonight is not locked in,” Gordon said.

Because of the odd shape of the current facility on the lot, Jakubcin said, the major remodel option would necessitate some wall demolition.

The remodel option also would include a number of compromises and lacks some key features staff would like to change about the current building, such as the parking layout and access to drive-by book drops.

“Option 2 is a clean slate,” Jakubcin said.

Both options would mean library services would be moved off the property while construction is completed.

In late March or early April, the board’s trustees will consider a ballot proposal for a bond, Jakubcin said.

The plan would be to present to voters two measures: one, to create a special district in which voters would be asked to support the expansion — roughly the same boundaries as the Sequim School District — and the second, the bond itself, which would necessitate a 60 percent supermajority to receive approval.

The board of trustees will have another public meeting in Sequim prior to a decision about a ballot measure, Jakubcin said.

The library system funded a feasibility study in 2013 and 2014 to examine costs toward a major expansion of the Sequim facility.

The push for expansion stepped up about a year-and-a-half ago when library officials and officials from the design firm SHKS Architects began making presentations with community groups in order to gauge design preferences and answer questions about expansion options.

An ad hoc Sequim expansion committee was assembled to consider information provided by SHKS Architects, one that included library management personnel and two NOLS trustees who serve as the Board of Trustees’ liaisons to the Sequim Expansion Project, as well as four community at-large participants.

Sequim has had a public library in some form since 1936, according to library officials. Sequim joined what eventually became the North Olympic Library System in 1947. The structure that now stands at 630 N. Sequim Ave. was built in 1983 and is about 6,000 square feet in size — about five times smaller than the Port Angeles Library at 2210 S. Peabody St.

In addition to resources such as books, CDs, DVDs and a computer lab, the Sequim Library is home to various community-oriented programs such as adult book discussion groups, Art in the Library, poetry walks, the Summertime Music! outdoor concert series, youth coding camps, documentary film screenings, Battle of the Books and Humanities Washington, among others — plus several programs the library system is involved outside of its brick-and-mortar facilities.

For more information, visit www.nols.org, or contact Jakubcin at 360-417-8500, x7714 or via email to [email protected]

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Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].

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