Posted October 20, 2022 at 9:00 pm by San Juan Update
Here are some helpful facts and corrections about the new library construction expenses and re-use of materials.
First, the total projected cost of the new library building itself is $18 million. For a 15,000 square-foot building, that works out to $1,200 per square foot — about the same cost as an upper-end single-family residence here on San Juan Island. Keep in mind that a single-family residence doesn’t have anywhere near what’s required by the Uniform Building Code for a public building. The structural design, electrical, plumbing, handicap access, public bathrooms, railings, floor structure, even sewage all must meet high-capacity regulations required by the State.
That said, the price per square foot for construction is well within reason.
Second, the existing building has been sitting vacant for five years. It has suffered from serious neglect by the previous owner, in addition to water damage and mold from last winter’s flooding. What has been removed already is asbestos and areas severely damaged by water and mold — all paid for by the insurance carrier and not a part of the proposed project budget.
Any materials that are reusable will be. That includes solid wood doors, sinks, wood molding, and windows. As a public entity, the Library cannot give away reusable materials, but they will be sold or auctioned off.
Third, there were lengthy feasibility studies done over the past few years to determine whether the existing building could somehow be saved and remodeled. It was decided that it is not feasible for a new library project. The feasibility study can be found on our Library’s own website.
So, before you let yourself be talked out of this opportunity by the folks that claim to love libraries but are voting no, educate yourself with the facts and consider all the benefits an expanded library can offer our community.
San Juan Island
Posted October 20, 2022 at 7:53 pm by San Juan Update
The San Juan Islands Museum of Art shares details about their upcoming artist event.
How do you do this? It’s made of what? Learn the answers to these questions and more at Kevin Christison’s special gallery walk-and-talk at his San Juan Islands Museum of Art exhibit on Friday, Oct. 28 at 5:30 p.m.
The New Forbidden’s studio works arise from an array of upcycled waste materials — PET plastics, glass, aluminum, paper, and natural fiber. The use of sustainable energy in the art-making processes is emphasized and underscored throughout the exhibition.
As the title The New Forbidden suggests, this body of work investigates the ever-changing boundaries of what is deemed acceptable, or allowed, in society, and what is forbidden. Works address such topics as climate change, ethics, social acceptance, the concept of property, personal and communal boundaries, management of natural resources — including waste materials — and the use of sustainable energy. Surrounded by his exciting work, explore Christison’ creations and his inspirations.
Admission to this artist tour is free to the public. The museum’s regular hours are Friday through Monday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Posted October 20, 2022 at 11:15 am by Jeff Arnim
The San Juan County Conservation Land Bank Commission will hold a regular meeting on Friday, Oct. 21 at 8:30 a.m. Items up for discussion or action at Friday’s meeting include:
- General public comments
- Chair and Commissioners report
- Partner update – Angela Anderson, San Juan Preservation Trust
- County Council update – Christine Minney
- Third quarter financial report
- Director’s report – Recreation, Open Space, and Stewardship Plan update
- Stewardship report – Coffelt lease draft approval for legal review; final Turtleback Mountain Stewardship and Management Plan consideration for approval; public comments and draft responses for Watmough Addition Interim Management Plan
- Outreach and volunteer report
- Future agenda items
You can view the live stream of the meeting online or take part in person at the San Juan County Fairgrounds Office Conference Room, 849 Argyle Ave.
Posted October 20, 2022 at 10:00 am by San Juan Update
The Library shares news about a potential funding source for its new facility.
The San Juan Island Library is excited to announce its $2 million grant proposal submitted to the Washington Department of Commerce’s Library Capital Improvement Program has advanced to the State Legislature for consideration in their 2023 regular session.
The LCIP is a competitive grant program created by the Legislature during their 2019 regular session. Its purpose is to assist libraries operated by governmental units, as defined in RCW 27.12.010, to acquire, construct, or rehabilitate their facilities. The Department of Commerce, in consultation with the LCIP Committee, conducts a statewide competitive grant process to recommend a list of grants to be funded.
These grant funds, if awarded, will go a long way to help make a new, expanded library at 660 Spring St. a reality for San Juan Islanders. The $2 million request represents 10 percent of the estimated total project cost of $20 million. This total estimated cost includes payoff of the existing property note and all costs associated with design, construction, furniture, and fixtures.
An estimated $6 million will come from philanthropy and other grants during the Library’s capital campaign, and $12 million from a bond to be placed on the ballot on Nov. 8.
“We’re overjoyed that our library’s proposal will move forward to the next round of this grant cycle,” said Library Director Laurie Orton. “The campaign to build a library better suited to meet the social, educational, and enrichment needs of San Juan Islanders — now and in the future — is gaining momentum, and this is another positive step forward. We’re so grateful this program continues to be funded by the state to help libraries grow with the changing and expanding roles they play in their communities. We look forward to hearing more news from the Department of Commerce in the spring.”
Letter to the Editor: Not the right time, not the right size, not the right need and not thought through
Posted October 19, 2022 at 8:56 pm by San Juan Update
At the start, I need to say I have been a very grateful recipient of the library’s well-earned, worthy reputation while writing one book and now writing a double biography of a husband and wife; and I agree the library space is tight. But after much thought, as I was initially in favor of the new library, I am forced to reconsider with the presented rationale.
One cited reason for a larger building is that the library has programs where currently attendees overflow the reading space and into the circulation desk space, maybe into the front entry space and sometimes even into the children’s library. One reason for the new building is a place to present such programs which seems a lot of usually unused space and translates as money poorly spent. Moreover, in town there is already a vast supply of underutilized spaces from small meetings to large conferences available at a minuscule cost compared to the cost of construction plus annual utilities thereafter. The Grange, Key Bank, Masonic Lodge, Heritage Bank — and even the Fairgrounds — are already available, which gives argument the library staff may be under-thinking potential events caused by thinking all events must be located in-house. Last, all the listed places already have adequate parking, thus reducing required parking consideration of any future library parking needs.
A large portion of the current building is elevated. The building’s main floor could be strengthened, remaining basement elevation lowered and space created with access via interior stairwell for staff. This leaves only circulation on the main floor. This cost is probably 10–15 percent of the requested $20 million.
Last, it seems by moving staff into the new space and utilizing the new space on the main floor for book shelves and video equipment utilization, plus maintaining current seat count, the additional parking requirement should be eliminated.
The recent years of soaring property value and assessments have already resulted in a huge tax windfall when juxtaposed to increases of county resident income. As stated in a recent San Juan Update letter, taxes have raised close to 50 percent in just five years. This proposed additional debt service through the Library District only adds to the already ruthless tax burden the island working population and fixed-income retirees. Where does this stop? The stop needs to begin — sorry library — but here. Seems your first need is a professional fundraiser with a three-year goal for $15 million in 2025 dollars. Continue Reading
Posted October 19, 2022 at 7:06 pm by San Juan Update
The EDC shares news about the next course in its Trades Training Initiative.
The Economic Development Council of San Juan County will offer an Introduction to Automotive Technology Course as part of its Trades Training Initiative. This course is open to participants from San Juan County, ages 18 and over, who plan to use automotive maintenance or repair skills for paying work.
The course will provide an overview of basic automotive systems, tools, and shop safety. Students will gain hands-on experience in changing oil, checking fluids, rotating tires, battery maintenance, jump starting, and basic diagnostics.
The course will be held Saturday, Nov. 5, from 1–5 p.m. at the Fellow Shop in Friday Harbor. The registration fee is $20 and space is limited.
For more information or to apply, visit the EDC website.
Posted October 19, 2022 at 10:42 am by San Juan Update
It was fall 2018 when Bob could still drive. That’s when I first learned that Ron Krebs was more than just a public figure but also a friend. Bob and I wanted yard signs for his re-election campaign for sheriff. He came to our home after work and the three of us sat around and discussed the The Little Store, my books, and Ron’s campaign. We also talked about crime and law. I’m a big advocate of law and order. My uncle was an attorney in Phoenix before he passed away in 1996, the same year my dad died, and a year before I moved to the island.
Since 2015, Ron and his crew have assisted us personally and professionally and have always been accessible when we’ve needed help at our store or home. From scrapes with people who wanted to cause us harm, whether directly at The Little Store or at our home and around the neighborhood, Ron’s team have always acted fast and with empathy and courtesy when responding to our calls for assistance.
Ron is an islander from way back, since before he moved back permanently in 2007 when he came to work at the Sheriff’s office. He knows the island way and the people who live here. He understands nuances of enforcing laws here while applying them fairly.
In July 2017, I went on a ride-along with Sergeant Eric Gardner. The ride-along was arranged by Undersheriff Zac Reimer, who cleared it with Sheriff Krebs. Typically, a ride-along is arranged for people who might want to join the team of the San Juan County Sheriff’s office. I thought it would be a slow island ride but then things heated up when a young man threatened to kill himself by hanging. The night went into warp speed. It was raining and the young man went missing. All the deputies knew him. It would be a tragedy if he killed himself. They all worried for this man.
After an hour-long search, thankfully, they located him. He was at his wit’s end. Ron stepped up and began talking him down. I watched from the car as law enforcement — Ron, Eric, and two other deputies — tried to help. Finally, the man agreed to go to the hospital, and they called the night a success. The ride-along started at five in the evening and finished at eleven-thirty. After, I was rung out. Mine was only a six-hour ordeal and these people in law enforcement do this every day. And why? Because they want to help the people in our community.
That’s why I’m voting to re-elect Ron Krebs. We have some expert men and women on the island whose personal goals align with our personal needs for them to serve us and protect us.
Posted October 19, 2022 at 8:45 am by Jeff Arnim
- Interisland ferry service is cancelled until the 5:45 p.m. Friday Harbor departure due to a lack of crew.
- Friday Harbor High School boys soccer beat Grace Academy High School in a 4–3 road win yesterday. The win moves the team to 5–1 in conference play and 8–2 overall. Their last home game of the season is this Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Linde Community Fields against conference opponent Cedar Park Christian.
- Friday Harbor Mayor Ray Jackson has proclaimed Thursday, Oct. 20 as Wear Purple Day in recognition of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
- Here’s the weekly update from the Mullis Center.
- The San Juan County Conservation Land Bank shares news about private land holders on Orcas Island donating water flow to Cascade Creek in an effort to aid spawning coho salmon.
- Here are the week’s specials from Market Place and Kings.
- Thanks to our advertisers for their continued support of the San Juan Update — including Friday Harbor Realty.
Have something to share with the Island? Whether the news is big or small, let us know!
Posted October 18, 2022 at 10:28 pm by Brad Pillow
Posted October 18, 2022 at 9:01 pm by San Juan Update
The notion that our library is grossly inadequate — a $20 million solution being the only path forward — has been a mantra since 2018. Again, we are told that yet another substantial tax increase must pass in order to avoid imminent community degradation. The only alternative ever really on the table is a dreamy, gold-plated community showpiece that goes far beyond needed functional improvements.
Supporters are channeling Dr. Bronner the soap man, trying to make the case that a new library will be a salve for nearly all of our social ills. Ms. Danaher and others are right to speak to pertinent numbers. Facts are an appropriate starting place to keep big ideas, in a small place, tethered to earth. However, our 2020 census was 7,778 residents — far from just under 10,000, as Ms. Danaher inferred. As of 2021 5,616 island residents own free library cards. Isn’t membership a key number from which to extrapolate community need?
The industry recommended space of 0.6 to perhaps as much as 1.0 square foot per resident, is already substantially met by our current library footprint of 9,600 square feet and would be drastically exceeded by a new 15,000 square-foot space. Professional library planning recommendations for populations of 10,000 or less prescribe at least seven seats per 1,000 residents. We have about that regardless of continued COVID distancing.
I trust that most would agree that the research portal into the expanding universe of information is technology and computer stations, not space-eating shelves full of entertaining books and unnecessary collections. I see that the flock of local authors claim they can’t do proper research without a lot more public space.
Discussion about using the Life Care Center for affordable housing is a train that left the station; the Library District already owns it. Most importantly, the library website insists that the remodel of that useful building was never part of the plan, even before the egregious mistakes that led to extensive water damage during last December’s cold spell.
For grounding, look no further than the non-profit workhorses like the Food Bank and Family Resource Center that raised donations to modestly expand square footage based upon actual numbers and essential needs.
Our existing library has a relaxed atmosphere, superb service, great staff and helpful volunteers. I have been a frequent user for 15 years. I never have a parking problem nor feel crowded. The busiest times for larger urban and suburban libraries are evenings and weekends. Our library chooses to continue reduced hours — 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, and shuttered on Sunday. Banker’s hours. Aren’t more hours and staff one way to expand the size of an “inadequate” library?
Vote no on this library levy. Send this grandiose plan back to the drawing board to be downsized and de-glittered — using the Life Care site with room to expand if necessary down the road — given the harsh realities of our faltering economy, declining services, ferry follies, increasing living costs and a debilitating lack of reasonable housing.
San Juan Island
Posted October 18, 2022 at 7:44 pm by San Juan Update
The San Juan Island Garden Club shares news about their Christmastime trip to the mainland.
On Thursday, Dec. 8, the San Juan Island Garden Club will travel to Molbak’s Nursery in Woodinville and Skagit Acres in Mount Vernon.
During the holiday season, Molbak’s sparkles with the joy of the season with decorations from around the world, snowmen, poinsettias, Christmas trees, and Danish Kringle. You will have the option of lunch among magnificent greenery. The second stop is Skagit Acres and their 12 Days of Christmas event, with theme-decorated trees, lovely plants, a unique gift shop, and perhaps a cup of tea. The day will be topped off with dinner at Anthony’s.
The Club will catch the 8:05 a.m. departure from Friday Harbor and the 8:25 p.m. return sailing from Anacortes.
The $60 fee includes transportation and a ferry ticket, but does not cover food, shopping, or the driver gratuity. Reservations must be made by Thursday, Nov. 10. For more information, contact Vonnie Harold at 360–298-0859 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted October 18, 2022 at 11:44 am by San Juan Update
We love libraries — especially ours here on the island. It has ably served our needs, but for the past number of years reality has hit: it’s limping, old, in need of repair, small and cramped, and goodness knows needs to be replaced.
How has it impacted our household? The Tech Tuesday “class” has come to the rescue countless times when we fumble with our computers. Staff have found the books, new and old, that we requested for our reading and learning pleasure, it has the DVDs of the myriad films we have missed over the years, and it has hosted speakers presenting an array of very interesting and intriguing issues.
Any increase in our property tax is far outweighed by the positive impact on us and what a new library and its extraordinary staff bring to our community. We urge you to go to the website for the library to learn more about our/your library and the levy.
Please join us in voting yes for the library levy.
Gay Graham and Ron Hanson
San Juan Island
Posted October 18, 2022 at 9:44 am by San Juan Update
The County shares news about the path forward for commercial composting facilities in the San Juan Islands.
You may have noticed a buzz surrounding commercial composting in the islands the past few months. That’s because San Juan County’s Solid Waste Program is exploring how to best implement commercial composting in our community.
A food composting system was implemented at the fair in August, a citizen survey about the topic was conducted over the summer, and now, with funding support from the Washington Department of Ecology, the County has contracted with Resource Synergy to develop an Organics Recycling Implementation Plan for its three most populous islands.
Compost is decomposed food and yard waste. When done on a large scale, it is referred to as commercial composting. A commercial composting facility in San Juan County would collect organic waste from restaurants, grocery stores, other commercial businesses, and individual residents. Commercial composting facilities can sell their compost to farms, nurseries, and individuals, and it can be used in local municipalities.
There are many benefits to commercial composting, including waste reduction and enhancing soil quality. According to the EPA, about 30 percent of landfill waste could be composted and turned into something useable. Composting food and yard waste converts the waste into fertilizers that improve soil quality. Composting reduces disposal costs and could potentially save users money by bringing down garbage service bills.
“We were able to test-drive composting with the community at the fair. Over the four days of the event, 560 pounds of compostable waste was collected. It was a great success,” said Katie Fleming, Solid Waste Coordinator in San Juan County’s Department of Environmental Stewardship.
The citizen composting survey that was conducted over the summer had 312 responses and showed that 80 percent of people would participate in a self-haul composting program, 70 percent would participate in a pick-up service, and 85 percent would purchase the locally produced, finished compost for gardening and landscaping at their homes.
Now the County is moving forward with Resource Synergy, a sustainability consultancy from Spokane, to delve deeper into what commercial composting could look like in the islands. A plan will be drafted that will enable San Juan, Orcas, and Lopez to manage organics on each of their islands. This will allow San Juan County to close organic waste loops and reduce waste costs, enriching the local economies and retaining nutrient streams for on-island use.
To accomplish this, the Resource Synergy team will spend time interviewing residents, restaurants, and other businesses over the late fall and winter. Their input will allow Resource Synergy to draft a comprehensive plan for managing organics on the islands.
“It’s becoming more and more clear that residents in San Juan County are enthusiastic about a commercial composting program. We’re excited to keep the momentum moving forward, reduce the amount of waste we send to the landfill, and use this valuable waste stream to enrich our islands’ soils,” said Fleming.