St. Augustine’s church expansion project advances

St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods Episcopal Church in Freeland has cleared the first big hurdle in a planned $1.5 million expansion that would nearly triple its space.

The proposal sailed through a site-plan hearing with the county “without a hitch” earlier this month, and church officials have applied for a building permit, said Susan Sandri of Langley, chairwoman of the building committee.

Work is expected to begin next month, with completion in 10 months to a year, Sandri said. More than a $1 million has been raised for the project, and a fund drive continues.

Plans call for a 9,400-square-foot, two-story expansion to the existing 5,600-square-foot church. An existing 2,200-square-foot office and education building will be demolished to make way for the addition.

Sandri said church officials are negotiating with Pearson Construction of Bellingham to do the work. She said the firm has promised to do the job for as much as $200,000 less than offers received from Whidbey Island firms.

The Bellingham firm has worked on 13 other church projects, and also has experience working with volunteer labor, she added.

“We plan to do a lot of the work ourselves,” Sandri said. “It gives people a stake in the project.”

The architect for the addition is Stig Carlson of Coupeville.

The church, built more than 40 years ago, sits on a little more than four wooded acres off Honeymoon Bay Road.

Sandri said membership includes about 120 families, and continues to grow. She said the goal is to provide regular seating and educational space for 200 people.

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