Forks Library renovation funding close to goal

An extensive renovation of the Forks Memorial Library is in the works, and could be completed by the end of 2013.

Ellen Matheny from the Friends of Forks Library (FOFL) described the renovation plans to the Forks City Council on Monday evening, July 9 at Forks City Hall. 

Matheny said the North Olympic Library System (NOLS) has funds in their budget to provide about $625,000 towards the projected project cost of $774,500.

She said the FOFL has $47,000 in their account set aside for the library construction. The building would retain its same footprint.

Matheny sought advice from the council on local fundraising. A NOLS handout she provided showed a need for the local community to raise $175,000 for the project, or about $125,000 after the FOFL funds are counted.

She said capital improvement grants will be applied for to help trim the budget.

Beaver-based construction consultant Jerry Schlie came up with the numbers for the renovation she said.

The cost could be trimmed if a  pitched roof was eliminated from the project plans if the existing flat roof design was kept.

The library building is a former bank that opened about 40 years ago. Some fixtures and even carpeting in the library dates back to its original days.

Plans call for high-efficency lighting, a redo of plumbing and electrical fixtures and wiring, improvements to the restrooms, removing walls to give the library a more spacious layout, new insulated windows and a heat pump, a quiet office for the branch manager, a meeting room accessible after hours and separate from the main library for after-hour public meetings and more. New paint and flooring, a new fire alarm system, computer upgrades, seismic-protected shelving and replacement of aged furniture are also part of the plan.

She said the planning is long-term. A new roof would be warranted for at least 30 years.

The renovation is estimated to take about one year, with the library staff, its computers and part of its collection to be temporarily opened in another location. One possibility would be the now-shuttered Bank of America building on South Forks Avenue.

Councilman John Hillcar asked Matheny to check on what share of NOLS levy funds come to Forks.

Councilman Mike Bridenbach said the Port Angeles and Sequim public libraries are well-funded through endowments and strong community financial support.

Matheny said help from the friends organizations at the two libraries would be sought.

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