Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Cashmere City Council deliberates potential library relocation to Riverside Center

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CASHMERE—At their March 25 meeting, the Cashmere City Council deliberated whether the option of having the library relocated to the Riverside Center (RSC) would be worth the additional costs. No decisions about the potential move were planned or made during the meeting.

Throughout the evening’s discussion, Fletcher asked Council members to consider the purpose of the Riverside Center. He advocated that the building was paid for by the taxpayers and should be a community center and suggested that library services could provide a community space, but at a cost. According to Fletcher, the city could make more money renting the Center out for weddings, but then asked the Council members to think about if that is how the Riverside Center should be used. Kay Jones, City Clerk-Treasurer, emphasized that the city just breaks even when renting the building out for weddings.

Fletcher and Jones, estimated that the annual cost, if the library is located at the RSC, would be $15,000 – $20,000 per year higher than at its current location. Fletcher explained that if an agreement is reached, the library would only pay the city $4 per square foot annually, for 5400 sq. ft. of the facility. This rate would increase by 25 cents per sq. ft., every three years. The rate, and increase, are consistent with the amount paid at other library locations, according to Fletcher. Council member, Jeff Johnson, calculated that the rate increase would not keep up with inflation and so would be costing the city even more over time. Jones told the Council that NCWL is excited about the use of the outdoor courtyard, but that they are not willing to pay for the outdoor space.

Council members expressed significant concern about the costs to the city and apparent unwillingness of NCWL to negotiate.

If the agreement is finalized, the library would provide all staffing at the facility and it expects to spend approximately $480,000 in modifications and improvements to the building. The city would provide maintenance for the building. Fletcher added that the library would require the city to provide janitorial services just as it does at their other locations, but that the cost of janitorial services is included in the estimated city costs.

Previously a report prepared for NCWL estimated the current building requires $400,000+ in repairs and improvements, Johnson asked if the city would be required to make those repairs if the library does not move to the Riverside Center. The repairs could occur of time, Fletcher replied, and Jones responded that the city could expect to spend $15,000 - $20,000 per year for the library to be housed in the Riverside Center, or the city can pay capital improvements for numerous years if the library stays in the present building.

Council member, Shela Pistoresi, expressed her view that she did not like the idea of giving the city’s best building and prime real estate to an entity that will only provide a 25-cent increase in payment every three years. Council member, Chris Carlson said he thinks of the library like the pool, which he said costs the city $100,000+ per year and is only open for 2 and a half months, but both the library and pool provide services that people really want and are willing to pay for.

Wrapping up the meeting, Fletcher told the Council that he would continue negotiating with the library, based on the Council’s discussions.

In other business actions, with a 3 to 1 vote, the Council accepted grant funding from the Department of Commerce, to develop climate change and resiliency goals. Fletcher explained this is required by the new Growth Management Act. Jayne Stephenson voted against the motion.

In a unanimous vote, the Council approved an additional $45,568 to Woodard and Curran for additional work on the automated SCADA system, which will monitor water and wastewater facilities. Dorien McElroy, Wastewater Plant Manager, explained that programmers will be required to make 4 trips to Cashmere to upgrade the system.

An additional $14,825 was unanimously approved to cover the required match, for a grant that will be used to purchase a mobile generator with quick electrical connections that can be used at 5 of Cashmere’s water facilities.

The Council also approved $12,336 for temporary laborers to clean sand filters at the water treatment facility.

Mayor Fletcher officially proclaimed April 26th Arbor Day in Cashmere and said that Cashmere has been an Arbor Day city since 1989.

Nick Covey, Link Transit CEO, addressed the Council providing an update of Link’s services and future plans. He told the Council that Link had purchased property at Hay Canyon that will be used for a Park and Ride.

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