$500,000 pledge buoys Port Townsend Library effort
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Port Townsend Library Director Theresa Percy, right, explains the renovations to the library's Carnegie room to Polly Lyle, Bob Gray and Cameron McPherson, from left.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — A $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities provides a significant boost to the renovation of the Port Townsend Library, according to library supporters.

“We're ecstatic,” said Friends of the Library Board Member Polly Lyle.

“We see it as a validation of our project, and it speaks well of Port Townsend because the [National Endowment for the Humanities] wouldn't put that much money here if the city didn't value the library and its history.”

In order to receive the funds, Library Director Theresa Percy said, the library must raise an additional $1.5 million.

Four phases of the library renovation are now completed or in progress: the renovation of the Charles Pink House, the seismic upgrade of the Carnegie Building and its interior repair, construction of a modular structure for housing the children's library and the resurfacing of the front of the Carnegie building.

The grant will support the fifth phase of the library's expansion, which includes the replacement of the current single-level 3,625-square-foot annex with a three-story, 14,420-square-foot structure.

The estimated cost of construction is $8.1 million and will require funding through individual and business donations and grants to the Foundation Capital Campaign, and a city bond in addition to the challenge grant.

Percy said that the funding will depend on the approval of a bond issue by voters, which she expects to have on the ballot sometime next year.

The amount of the bond issue and its impact on property owners is yet to be determined, Percy said.

“We would like to raise as much as we can from other sources so we don't have to ask for so much with the bond,” she said.

“We want to make the bond issue as small as possible.”

The Port Townsend City Council is scheduled to discuss the bond issue at a meeting Monday at 6:30 p.m. in chambers, 540 Water St.

“It will be the people's decision to support this,” Percy said.

“We will give the public all the information they need about what has been invested and how more investment will benefit them.”

The new addition will provide enough space for special exhibits and collections from local authors and other benefactors, Percy said.

It will also allow the library to stop switching around old collections to accommodate new ones.

“With the redesign of the Carnegie Library into a more open space, we can no longer store as many volumes there,” she said.

“And you can only switch things around for so long.”

If the funding is approved, construction on the new wing would begin in 2014 and take about a year, meaning that the library will be in its temporary location at Mountain View Commons for an additional 2 years.

Percy said she feels the situation is less than optimal.

“It's hell being separated from the rest of the library,” said Percy, who maintains her office in the library annex.

“Everybody hates this.”

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 06. 2012 5:49PM
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