Vote no on the library| Guest Column

By Lynn Danaher

I love libraries. I think they’re extremely important. We have a great library in Friday Harbor. It’s important to note for populations up to 10,000, the average size of a library is .6 ft.² per person or in our case 6,000 ft. ². Our current library is over 8000 ft.² on .66 acres. Our population on San Juan Island is just under 10,000. Therefore, we are already 2000 ft.² over the national average for a library in a community of our size. What is being proposed at the Life Care Center, 15,000 ft.² is far more than what is appropriate for our community. If the library truly thinks they need additional space, it would be far less expensive to build up and add a story to the existing building.

Currently, the plan is to tear down the Life Care Center, a functional 28,000 ft.² building, with a commercial kitchen and laundry facility. It is utter lunacy. This extremely important fact is not revealed in the “facts” the library is sharing with the public about the proposed project. This would create an unimaginable amount of building material waste. Because most material would not be allowed to go into our landfill, it would have to be transported via the ferry on diesel fuel semi-trucks off the island to other landfills. The demolition plan for the Life Care Center is extremely wasteful and environmentally inappropriate on multiple levels. The well-established gardens could not survive the demolition. If there is asbestos in the building, it is far easier and cheaper to encapsulate, than to tear it out and put it in any landfill. Perfectly good valuable construction material would be destroyed and hauled away.

With some repairs and remodeling and for far less than $20 million the old Life Care Center could be converted using the principles of adaptive reuse to create affordable housing and mixed-use. Currently, the zoning is for professional use. I have confirmed that a change to multifamily and mixed-use would be supported by the Town of Friday Harbor. This could address our community’s real immediate need, housing. As someone who has restored several historic houses and created adaptive reuse of multiple buildings in Friday Harbor, I speak from years of knowledge and practical experience.

Finally, the library claims that the project is going to cost $20 million; that is $2,000 plus for every man, woman and child on the island! Currently, if you vote yes you have agreed to go in debt for a bond for $12 million which is only a portion of what they have estimated the project is going to cost. Your vote will determine whether you personally agree to going into debt for everyone in your family.

If this bond levy passes, a 28,000-square-foot building will be demolished. That’s a lot of building material that could be better utilized in an adaptive reuse plan.

I guarantee if this levy passes it will create a huge boondoggle in Friday Harbor. The practical, economic, and environmental reality dictates voting no on the library.

Thanks for your thoughtful consideration.