Ferndale awards library building contract after seven years of effort

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDAugust 20, 2013 

FERNDALE - The City Council has awarded a $4.7 million contract to Faber Construction to build the new Ferndale Public Library - a milestone for a project that's been some seven years in the making.

The Lynden firm was the lowest bidder of three vying for the job. The other two were Tiger Construction of Everson and Roosendaal-Honcoop Construction of Bellingham.

A groundbreaking ceremony has been set for Saturday, Sept. 7. Seattle-based SHKS Architects designed the building, which is expected to be completed by summer 2014.

Christine Perkins, executive director for Whatcom County Library System, said the bid was "a leap forward in progress on a project that's taken over seven years and will mean so much for the citizens of Ferndale."

"It really was a reminder to me of how much hard work has been put in," she said of the Monday, Aug. 19, bid award. "Sometime next year we'll be in the new library."

The audience clapped after the City Council voted 6-1 on the Faber bid, with Councilman Keith Olson voting no.

The project to build a new 15,000-square-foot library - on city land on Main Street near City Hall - is a collaboration of the city of Ferndale, Whatcom County Library System and Whatcom Community Foundation. The foundation managed the public fundraising effort.

A new, larger library is needed to meet the increasing needs of a growing community, supporters have said.

It will have views of Mount Baker and Schell Marsh, along with natural lighting, radiant heating and natural ventilation.

The bid award covers:

• $4.4 million for construction, including sales tax and contingency.

• $155,618 for landscaping, as well as $175,835 for a library parking lot of about 100 spaces with access off 4th Avenue and an additional 30 parking spaces to the south of City Hall.

Money for the project is coming from the city of Ferndale, private donations, grants and bonds - including a $550,000 bond Ferndale voters approved in April to fill a funding gap.

Olson said his no vote was not because he opposed the library itself.

His frustrations included the amount of money for landscaping and why voters were asked to approve a bond to fill a funding gap in the project when the money wouldn't be needed, as it turned out, he said.

"We passed the bond issue so that we could build this thing. Now all of a sudden that money doesn't really need to come from the voters because now they have it," Olson said.

Other city officials said they didn't know at the time that there would be enough money. And, they said, it was the voters' OK that led to additional dollars - a $500,000 matching grant was announced in May - coming in.

The extra money will be used for features such as additional technology and energy efficiency that were scaled back in earlier plans.

"We're finally going to build a library," City Councilwoman Cathy Watson said.

IF YOU GO

What: Groundbreaking ceremony for new Ferndale Public Library. Light refreshments will be served.

When: 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7.

Where: Park in the lot at Ferndale City Hall, 2095 Main St., adjacent to the site for the new library.

Details: Sarah Koehler, library branch manager, at 360-305-3600.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com.

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