State budget includes $2 million for Birch Bay Vogt Community Library

State budget includes $2 million for Birch Bay Vogt Community Library

The 2020-2021 state capital budget approved April 27 by the Washington State Legislature includes $2 million in funding for the Birch Bay Vogt Community Library. Now, Friends of the Birch Bay Library and the Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) Foundation will launch a major fundraising campaign to raise the remaining approximately $2.7 million needed to design and build the 7,700-square-foot public library along Birch Bay’s waterfront.

“We are extremely grateful for the local legislative support of this project – particularly from representatives Luanne Van Werven and Sharon Shewmake,” says WCLS Executive Director Christine Perkins.  “The bi-partisan support is especially gratifying as we know the future Birch Bay Vogt Community Library will serve everyone in Whatcom County.”

In addition to the $2-million state appropriation, the $4.7-million project has also received a $100,000 donation from BP Cherry Point Refinery as well as approximately $20,000 in donations from community members and businesses. “With the state appropriation, we have a deadline to raise the total amount needed by June 30, 2021, or we are at risk of losing the funds,” Perkins adds. “We also want to keep the project moving forward to avoid cost escalation. Now is the time for major gifts, and we’re asking for the community’s help.”

“Contributing to the library is truly an opportunity to leave an important legacy,” says Doralee Booth, who is a long-time Birch Bay resident and a Friends of the Birch Bay Library board director. “We’ve watched the community grow, and now we have an opportunity to provide an essential facility that will fill a huge need for a gathering space that connects people of all ages and backgrounds. Receiving the state appropriation is wonderful because it says that this can happen. Now is the time for us to come together to finish up this process. ” To donate, visit wcls.org/give and click the red Birch Bay Library building project button.

After surveys revealed that a public library was long overdue in Birch Bay, WCLS purchased the historic Vogt family property at 7968 Birch Bay Drive in 2017 and began working closely with library supporters tasked with raising the funds necessary to build the community library. As design work began, WCLS and Zervas Architects hosted public input sessions in 2018 and met with key constituents. Visit wcls.org/birch-bay to see a fly-through animation of the proposed library and design schematics.

The subsequent design retains much of the property’s historic details while adding amenities such as free access to computers and the internet, public meeting spaces, and library resources such as books, movies, music and research tools. Patrons can research, read and relax near the library’s fireplace and expansive windows that frame a view of Birch Bay. “I can just see us there in the winter sitting in the front of the fireplace and catching up with each other,” Booth adds. “And for the children, it’s really a huge dream to have the facility close by. They can ride their bikes to the library.”

“The Birch Bay Library will be a beautifully designed community focal point,” says Dianne Marrs-Smith, president of Friends of the Birch Bay Library. “There will be after-school, evening, weekend and summer programs for children, seniors and others. We’ll offer job training and support for local business owners. For an area that currently has no central hub, the Birch Bay Vogt Community Library will be where neighbors gather.”

Read more about the project at FriendsofBirchBayLibrary.org.