Beetle infestation forces closure of Sudden Valley Library

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJuly 2, 2014 

SUDDEN VALLEY - South Whatcom Library is closed indefinitely because engineers inspecting the structure last week found evidence of an insect infestation that has weakened the former horse barn that houses the new library and other businesses.

Larry Brown, president of the Sudden Valley Community Association, said inspectors hired in advance of planned remodeling in the building discovered three support pillars in the library portion had been weakened by wood-boring powderpost beetles, which eat wood like termites.

"The condition was too unsafe for human occupation," Brown said.

The building is known locally as The Barns, at 8 Barnview Court through Sudden Valley Gate 2. It also houses recently opened businesses including a Christ the King Church congregation, a branch of the Whatcom Family YMCA and the Creekside Cafe coffee shop.

Jeff Schlaack, Sudden Valley's general manager, said other parts of the building remain safe.

"It's just really isolated to an area above the library, Schlaack said. "It looks like we'll know in very short order whether they'll be able to go back in. It's something that can be resolved on a temporary basis, say several months."

He said that Sudden Valley is planning more permanent repairs and that the library would need to move while that work was being done.

An open meeting of the Sudden Valley board was scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 1, in the Adult Center inside Sudden Valley Gate 2, and the board planned to discuss the issue then. An elected 11-member board governs the private homeowners association of about 7,000 residents along Lake Whatcom east of Bellingham.

Meanwhile, library patrons are still able to pick up materials that had been reserved for delivery to the South Whatcom branch, said Lizz Roberts, who is community relations director of the Whatcom County Library System. Patrons can use the South Whatcom Library drop box to return materials.

Some scheduled library activities have been moved to a meeting room in the YMCA portion of the building. Library staff will be available during normal library hours in the lobby between the Creekside Cafe and the YMCA, Roberts said, to answer questions.

Library officials posted a notice of the closure Friday, June 27, and moved the location of weekend events. They are working on a longer-term plan for service.

Some library staff have been reassigned temporarily, but no one has lost their jobs, Roberts said.

The 6,500-square-foot South Whatcom Library opened on the first floor of the Barns' north side in March. The library, which normally is open Tuesday through Saturday, replaced the twice-weekly bookmobile service to Sudden Valley.

Volunteers with Friends of the South Whatcom Library raised tens of thousands of dollars and spent countless hours remodeling the first floor of the structure to meet Whatcom County codes. Sudden Valley's management offered free rent in exchange for general upkeep of the site.

Reach Robert Mittendorf at 360-756-2805 or robert.mittendorf@bellinghamherald.com.

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