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Fairhaven Library - lets get it right

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On other blogs are some weird misunderstandings being posted - and questions that are going unanswered. Below I try to clarify some issues about the Fairhaven Library. At next Monday’s Bellingham City Council meeting there will probably be a discussion and maybe a vote on funding repairs for the Fairhaven Library. If not next Monday than hopefully at the next council meeting.

What did council member Jack Weiss mean when he said “It may already be too late.” He meant only that it may be too late for needed summer work on the exterior of the Fairhaven Library because of the lead time the city needs in planning and starting any needed repairs to the building. He did not mean the building was too far gone for repairs. I was there - closer to Jack than the Herald reporter who quoted Jack in a very ambiguous way in his article.

Indeed, the building is in amazingly good shape for being over 100 years old. However, for the past several years - maybe going back 10 or more years - the city has neglected more and more of normal maintenance and repairs. This conveniently tied into the plans for closing the library or wrapping repairs into a bond issue for voters. Now that the bond issue is dead - at least for a year - the Friends of the Fairhaven Library have been bringing pressure on the city to repair the building. Indeed, the Friends (I am a member) have been asking the city for years to do the maintenance. Only with Dan Pike as mayor are our requests being looked into.

How much will it cost? Again the other blogs have confusing numbers and misinformation. The numbers are simple. To make needed repairs is a million dollars. To fully repair and renovate is two million dollars. The Library Board - the board, not the friends - has requested the city council spend the two million. We Friends feel that one million is all that is needed. I will be at the city council meeting Monday evening to say just that.

There is much that is confusing because there are political agendas at work in all this. Repairs become more expensive the longer they are delayed. What is repair and what is renovation can become confused. There are many small facts and trivia in this issue of the Fairhaven Library. So far, no one from the city has asked us Friends for our input. Indeed, our letter of weeks ago has gone unanswered. Yet we perhaps know more about this situation than any on the Library Board or the City Council. So it is possible this issue will continue to be confused.

About John Servais

Writer • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

John Servais

Mar 28, 2008

Checking the city council agenda, there is no Fairhaven Library repairs item on the agenda for this coming Monday, March 31.  Perhaps at the April 14 meeting.  Summer is coming.  Perhaps Jack Weiss will be very right - and the library building will spend another winter with rain dripping into the cracked walls.

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Jack Weiss

Mar 29, 2008

As of Friday, noon, the Library Board has not sent the Council a letter concerning branch repairs as they voted to do at their March 18 meeting.  Because of this and the advance time needed to get anything officially on a Council meeting agenda, this issue will not be discussed on Monday.  Probably at the April 14 meeting??

As far as the interpretation of my “too late” comment, let me be clear that your take on it is correct, that is, it might be logistically too late for repairs for the summer construction season and dealing with exterior stucco.  It takes awhile to come up with deciding on a scope of work, design, bids and permits - starting now is a difficult situation.  In my opinion, the repairs should be done as soon as possible and it is the Mayor’s and Council’s role and responsibility to make this happen.

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Jack Weiss

Mar 29, 2008

Sorry, John.

Did not see your initial comment until after I sent in mine.

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John Servais

Mar 29, 2008

Jack - apology not needed.  Thanks for clarifying the situation.

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