My family and I spent a lot of time at the library as we planned our move to Orcas in the summer of 2009. Taking advantage of our new library cards, our days were filled with reading lots of books and watching movies and TV series that we’d never heard of before. And I was able to stay connected to my work world because the library’s Wi-Fi was free and fast. By summer’s end, we knew that a community wise enough to invest in such a friendly and well-equipped library was a place where we could live forever. Seven years later, we’re still active Library users, and last December I finished a five-year term as a library trustee.
As a trustee, I was active in the planning and development of the library expansion project. We built on the strong foundation of previous trustees and the active participation of many community members to envision a library to serve Orcas residents of all ages for decades to come. The project was extraordinarily fortunate with its fundraising: Local philanthropists stepped up with major gifts; our elected officials secured $1.4 million in state capital funding; the Friends of the Library, which have worked diligently for decades on book sales and the annual Library Fair, provided a six-figure donation; and scores of others have given generously. All who donated believe in the critical importance of the library for our community – a public campus open seven days a week and accessible to all.
Despite our best efforts to design and price an expansion that matched the funding that had been raised by early summer, the building bids came in higher than anyone expected. The reality is that public building projects must compete for contractors with private sector projects in today’s hot construction market. Delaying the project to raise more private funding would have resulted in an increase in costs across the board and a likely loss of state funding.
The better approach is to continue moving forward by voting for a modest levy lid lift this November that represents 17 percent of the total project cost, plus ongoing operations. That kind of investment in a vital community asset is a bargain, and I strongly support the levy lid lift.