Ferndale officials hope new library will be ready in October

Employees hope to be able to move into the new $4.7 million Ferndale Public Library sometime in October, provided the concrete foundation is ready.

A slowing of the foundation’s curing process has forced officials to delay the Oct. 18 grand opening for the new 15,000-square-foot library, which was built on city land on Main Street near City Hall. A new date hasn’t been set. Library staff will move into the building and start operating it prior to the grand opening.

“We’re really focused on wanting to get this done right. That’s more important for the long-term use of the building than rushing to get it done quickly,” said Christine Perkins, executive director for Whatcom County Library System.

As for a possible October move-in, Perkins said that would occur “as long as it all proceeds properly with the slab curing.”

The issue is the foundation’s high pH level, which occurred because calcium carbonate — a curing accelerant — was used when the foundation was poured after construction was slowed by a cold snap. That unexpected weather, which included snow, prevented contractors from working on the site for some time, according to city of Ferndale officials.

The high pH level doesn’t allow carpet glue to adhere the way it should. That, in turn, prevents workers from being able to put in carpeting, shelves, furnishings and equipment.

So a hydronic heating system — also known as radiant heating — in the foundation has been turned on, and city officials hope that will speed the concrete’s curing, reduce the pH and allow carpeting to be installed soon.

The library project is a collaboration of the city of Ferndale, Whatcom County Library System and Whatcom Community Foundation. The foundation managed the public fundraising effort.

Money for the project came from the city of Ferndale, private donations, grants and bonds — including a $550,000 bond approved by the city’s voters.

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.

“It’s going to be a treasure for the people in Ferndale and the surrounding areas,” Perkins said.

Meanwhile, crews are putting finishing touches on the project, including the start of irrigation and landscaping on Wednesday, Sept. 24, according to City Administrator Greg Young.

“We’re really on the cusp of getting it done,” Young said. “Once we can get these darn carpets down, it’s going to go lickety-split.”

Seattle-based SHKS Architects designed the building. Faber Construction, of Lynden, is building the library.

Young praised Faber’s work.

“They are invested in this project,” he said. “I think our citizens are going to be very pleased.”