Clearing up library misconceptions | Letter

Recently Don Adams’ letter, “Support for a dorm house” repeats some unfortunate misconceptions regarding the Library’s 660 Spring Street property.

The Library purchased this property, after considering several alternate sites in a public process. The building, emptied and abandoned for four years, had major roofing, HVAC, and other significant maintenance issues – precisely why Life Care abandoned the facility. During the December 2021 freeze, the building was damaged by the sprinkler system’s burst pipes.

Insurance funds have mitigated damage by removing asbestos, although some remain in the ceiling. The building, with pre-existing major problems, is now gutted of walls, flooring, plumbing fixtures, and some ceiling.

The Library did due diligence in considering whether to reuse the building; consultants advised that it would cost considerably more to remodel than to raze and build anew. All these decisions and actions have been well documented and are publicly available.

In 2019, the Board of Trustees determined, after long evaluation and community feedback, that islanders would benefit from a reasonably larger, newer facility that addresses many unmet local needs. That is still the Board’s stand, and they are moving forward with the project through grants and by private fundraising.

While the Board recognizes affordable workforce housing needs, RCW 27.12.240 limits library funds to the operation, maintenance and building of libraries. However, a joint-use project is possible with restrictions that allow us to comply with the statute but still allow a non-library use of the property.

Barbara Sharp,

San Juan Island