Likely kitchen contractor picked for Pole Building

Work on a new kitchen for the historic Pole Building at the Whidbey Island Fairgrounds in Langley may begin as soon as next month.

Following a public bidding process, Island County Public Works officials are recommending the job go to Oak Harbor-based Nautilus Construction and Management.

The firm was the lowest bidder of three construction firms, quoting a total cost of $80,893.

According to Bill Oakes, director for public works, Nautilus has worked on other projects for the county and performed well. But there are still some details that need to be worked out before a contract can be signed.

Additional demolition of the existing kitchen is needed that was not factored into the company’s original bid. It’s not yet clear who will do the work or how much it will cost, he said.

“Whether that’s the fair or the contractor, we need to figure that out,” Oakes said. Volunteers, in fact, already gutted the old kitchen area to prepare for the remodeling.

The Gust Skarberg building, commonly referred to as the Pole Building, was constructed in 1937 under the auspices of the federal Works Progress Administration.

It’s been used by a wide range of groups over the years, but currently serves as the Island County Fair Association’s headquarters. It’s also used by the local OutCast theater group and for boat storage.

The existing kitchen has fallen into disrepair. The project seeks to renovate the space so that it can be used by caterers or other groups needing a modern, non-commercial kitchen space.

Funding for the project is from three sources: $50,000 from a federal grant, $35,000 from county real estate excise taxes and a $15,000 in-kind-match from the fair association.

Oakes is hopeful the demolition hiccup will be sorted out soon and that a contract will be signed by the Island County commissioners next month. That would allow construction on the six-week project to begin by the end of April.

At a recent meeting with the board, Commissioner Helen Price Johnson called the building a “well used facility ... in desperate need of sprucing up.”

“We’re richly blessed in Island County to have the fairgrounds and the historic buildings that are there, but they need tender-loving-care and this an opportunity for us to do that,” she said.


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