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NOLS, schools consider shared library project

Partnering with the Sequim School District may be a possibility for the North Olympic Library System to build a new Sequim Library.

However, it will need to be part of a possible school bond for that to happen, said Kelly Shea, Sequim schools superintendent.

Shea spoke before a small crowd at the NOLS board of trustees meeting on April 24 in Sequim Library.

The NOLS board of trustees continued discussion on plans for building a new Sequim Library where they unanimously approved forming a citizens advisory committee along with giving the go-ahead to recruit an architect for a conceptual design of a new branch.

Trustees approved up to $60,000 for designs along with costs for a tentative consultant and attorney fees to investigate all possible roadblocks for NOLS to build on Sequim School District property and/or with other community partner agencies.

Concepts could include a design on the existing property at 630 N. Sequim Ave., and across the street with the high school, at 601 N. Sequim Ave.

Shea said he’s discussed the idea of partnering with the library before but does not know the school board’s current standing on the idea.

“It seems silly to build a new library across the street from another library when there are redundancies between the two,” Shea said.

“The idea hasn’t been done in Washington state before. It has been done in other places,” Paula Barnes, NOLS executive director, said. “The cost reductions could come from shared spaces, computers and technology, maintenance, energy efficiency and staffing levels.

“NOLS wouldn’t be bearing those costs alone,” Barnes said. “It would be the same if we partnered with the city or schools or Peninsula College.”

Shea said the school district would have some immediate obstacles such as with staffing and security.

“We believe you can build a library and allow our students to have access to the library and only our students have access into the high school,” he said. “The community can access it from the outside. I believe our community and kids can co-exist.”

But Shea and the library trustees agreed they’d want community reaction first before making plans.

“We want to go through the process with  an optimum amount of public involvement,” Barnes said.

Don Zanon, NOLS trustees president, said without active community involvement, he would not be in favor of NOLS building a new branch anywhere.

“Why go through all this work and put it on the ballot if there’s not sufficient support to go forward and do this,” he said. “It sounds idealistic to partner with agencies but if we don’t have a community interest, we shouldn’t do it. I’m sure the school board doesn’t want to go forward with another ballot destined for defeat.”

Elaine Frederickson, a board trustee, said the committee and design are intended to gauge community interest.

“We have to show (the public) something,” she said. “If they don’t respond, then that tells us something, too. There’s a lot of groundwork to be done.”

Barnes said the concept designs, which could take nine-12 months, would show what it might look like, where it would be and the costs.

“People need something to react to … Those are the things that get people’s attention,” she said.

Shea said that even if the Sequim School’s recent $154 million bond had passed, they’d be discussing options with NOLS but if they were to partner, they’d need to educate people that the library would be part of the school bond.

“We’re going to the same taxpayer,” he said. “It’d be nice to have one package instead of two.”

Barnes said the best option to build a new library separate from the schools could come from passing a Library Capital Facilities Area, likely following the boundaries of the Sequim School District, and asking those voters to support funding the building by passing a bond issue.

She said the biggest question in partnering with the schools is if NOLS could build on property it doesn’t own.

“We’ll pursue it until we hit a roadblock,” she said.

In February, the library contracted SHKS Architects for a building estimate which revealed a nearly $7 million estimate for a new library at 17,150 square feet to replace the current 6,000-square-foot branch.

Barnes said the soonest anything would go to voters on a new library separate from the schools would be 2016.

For more information, visit www.nols.org or call 683-1161.

 

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