SEQUIM — The North Olympic Library System’s effort in 2018 to convince voters of the need to expand its Sequim Library came up short. Now, library leaders hope to convince state officials of the need for a grant worth up to $2 million.
The system’s board of trustees on May 28 agreed to have staff prepare a grant proposal that would allow for some improvements to the Sequim Library such as more meeting space, ADA-accessible bathrooms and staff area.
Created by state legislators in their 2019 regular session, the state Department of Commerce’s Library Capital Improvement Program (LCIP) aims to “assist libraries operated by governmental units, to acquire, construct or rehabilitate their facilities,” according to the Commerce website.
The state plans to award up to $10 million overall, with the maximum grant to one facility or entity set at $2 million.
The program requires a 50 percent match of the total cost of the project, so the largest project the North Olympic Library System (NOLS) could plan for is a $4 million expansion.
And that total could certainly be less, NOLS executive director Noah Glaude said last week.
“One of the things we told the board (at the May 28) meeting is not to get too attached to these preliminary plans,” Glaude said.
Grant priority, library officials note, is given to library facilities located in distressed or rural counties or listed on historic registers.
Because Clallam County is both a rural and distressed county as defined by the Office of Financial Management, the proposed Sequim Library project would receive “priority consideration,” NOLS officials said.
The grant application is due June 15, with recipients named in the fall and funding (through the sale of state bonds) awarded starting next year through the 2021-23 state capital budget.
NOLS officials called the Library Capital Improvement Program grant “an unexpected, one-time grant opportunity to access additional funding for much-needed improvements to the Sequim branch” and that “it is unknown if or when the grant would be offered again.”
The board of trustees will need to consider what level of financial contribution to commit to the proposed project prior to staff submitting the grant application for an expected special board meeting on Friday.
While it would be significantly less than the $13.4 million plan voters turned down in 2018, the grant would allow for a number of significant improvements at the site, NOLS staff said.
“It’s certainly not what we hoped for,” Glaude said, but the grant opportunity is a positive option, “considering we’ve been facing the pandemic the past couple of months.
“This seemed like a good alternative.”
Peninsula libraries have been closed since mid-March and won’t reopen until Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start Washington” plan — at least until mid- to late June.
For more information about the library system, see www.nols.org.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.