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Hopes are to raise $3 million for new Mount Vernon center

September 28, 2018

Wende Sanderson, in red, of the League of Women Voters of Skagit County, waves to library patrons Tuesday as volunteers Henry Patterson, Karen Dec, and Barbara Carson sit poised to register voters.

MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Library Foundation is seeking to raise about $3 million as part of a capital campaign for a new library/community center.

The foundation is in the process of writing a letter accepting the city’s funding goal, according to Roger Ragusa, board foundation president.

The city partnered with Skagit County in April to begin work on the structure, which would house the city library, a senior center and a parking structure.

Library Director Isaac Huffman said the foundation was created several years ago, after a $500,000 donation from the estate of Sonya Beard, a library patron. The money is being managed by the Skagit Community Foundation for use on this project.

That money was invested, earmarked for the construction of a new library, and is now between $700,000 and $800,000, he said. The money will help fund this new library/community center.

According to a request for qualifications issued Sept. 13, the city is seeking to hire a firm for project management and preliminary architectural and engineering services. The deadline for applications is Thursday.

“We’ve gone as far as we can, responsibly, with our knowledge base,” Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau said.

The cost of the project is listed at $27 million, which Boudreau called “an educated guess.”

By including the parking structure the city can use a $14 million state infrastructure grant to help pay for construction.

Boudreau said she expects the county to make a contribution, and that the city will be applying for other state grants.

Huffman said preliminary construction may start by the end of 2019.

Alongside the request for qualifications, he said the city is considering to work on the project via a new process called alternative delivery.

“You can be slightly more selective with your partners (and consider) more than just cost criteria,” Huffman said.

This state-approved project design process lets the city, engineers and builders work at the same time, and was created to save time, he said.

“Instead of having three parties duking it out over what the whole project should be ... they all sit around the table and work together,” he said.

If the city doesn’t meet its funding goal, “we will have to make decisions on scope and scale,” Boudreau said.

She said the city has to contend with regional construction prices, which are driven up by higher costs in King County. This is why the estimated cost is higher than expected, she said.

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