COMING SOON: THE LA CONNER-SWINOMISH REGIONAL LIBRARY – Last Wednesday the Friends of the Library’s Thrift Shop was demolished. Today at 1 p.m. a groundbreaking ceremony at the corner of Morris and Sixth streets marks the beginning of the construction of the new library. Finally! 	                                                                             Photo by Nancy Crowell
COMING SOON: THE LA CONNER-SWINOMISH REGIONAL LIBRARY – Last Wednesday the Friends of the Library’s Thrift Shop was demolished. Today at 1 p.m. a groundbreaking ceremony at the corner of Morris and Sixth streets marks the beginning of the construction of the new library. Finally! Photo by Nancy Crowell

The future is being built for residents of greater La Conner with the start of construction of a “zero to 100” new La Conner-Swinomish Regional Library designed to meet the needs of newborns’ mothers and their great grandmothers, says its project manager. The demolition Sept. 22 of the Friends of the Library Thrift shop marked the start of significant changes coming to the southwest corner of Morris and Sixth streets in La Conner.

After over a year’s delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the now empty lot will be occupied by a 5,500 square foot building, twice the size of the current library, by June if the schedule is kept.

Be a part by joining the groundbreaking ceremony on-site at 1 p.m. today, Sept. 29.

That will be the most exciting and visible action this week. Contractor Tiger Construction, of Everson, will mobilize to the site in October, after they finish another project.

Project Manager Jeremy McNett of Underwood & Associates says it will be a slow start this fall, starting with an office trailer moving on site along with equipment. By the end of the year he expects the foundation to be in, the walls up and, “hopefully, have a roof over this thing in January.”

The quick assembling of the building will be due to using cross laminated timber, CLT. McNett described it as” a bunch of 2’ x 6’ boards glued together to make one solid panel.” He praised its acoustic and insulating qualities.

That it creates a very solid frame for the building is only one reason the material was chosen. It helps the project gain a silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard. CLT framing is sustainable because it is a renewable resource. It stores carbon. McNett ticked off other LEED features: low energy usage; LED lighting; solar panels; day light controls and sensors, very high efficiency mechanical equipment and the site’s urban location.

Once they start inside, he aims for the interior work to be finished at the start of April. “We are shooting for substantial completion by May 1st,” he said. By June 1 he projects staff will be moving in furniture, shelving books and preparing and working out all the bugs of their library software systems, as well as becoming comfortable in the new space.

McNett, an architect, likes the potential the library offers, calling it “a beacon for community togetherness. My hope is that this building will motivate other development within La Conner; I hope this triggers other people to invest the same kind of time energy and money to invest in improving the lives of the community.”

He pointed out that a majority of funds are donated, calling it “probably the largest project La Conner has seen in that sense.”

The cost was $3.74 million in 2019 when it was fully funded. In 2018 and 2019 state of Washington gave a total of $1.22 million. In June 2019 the Swinomish Tribe granted $750,000 based on Skagit County’s providing $500,000. The sale of the present building might raise $450,000. Local donations, fueled by Friends of the Library and the La Conner Kiwanis, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To open, the building will have to pass inspection to get its certificate of occupancy. “When the (library) director feels they are 100 percent done, they will do a grand opening,” McNett said, and again cut a ribbon and cut cake.

Library Director Jared Fair’s outlook? “I am pretty optimistic going forward from here to the building phase.”

But first, today’s groundbreaking. The public is invited. Fair expects local and state elected officials to attend. There will be Swinomish representatives and a blessing by Swinomish member Kevin Paul. Paul is also a district library board member.

This library joins expansion projects planned, in process or finished in Anacortes, Concrete, Mount Vernon and Sedro Woolley.