As staff at City of Yelm continue to prepare for a move into the old Fairpoint Building, City Council is still exploring options on what to do with the current city hall building once it’s vacant.

During Tuesday’s study session, representatives from Timberland Regional Library System discussed if the building could be of use.

Allison Grubbs, public services manager for TRL, told the council she’s met with city administrator Michael Grayum once to discuss future locations for the Yelm Library.

“TRL is interested in deepening its relationship with the city,” she said. “But this is very preliminary.”

Grubbs said TRL would need more information and is looking to have some architectural renderings done early next year to see “would we even fit into that building and what would that look like.”

The old city hall building is about 200 square feet smaller than the current library location, but the space could also be used in different ways. 

Council asked about how many people use the Yelm Library, what the demographics of library patrons were and how the current space was working.

Since 2008, TRL as a whole has seen a decrease in circulation, meaning the number of items being checked out, and a decrease of people coming through library doors.

Yelm is the exception to that, Grubbs said. Out of TRL’s medium sized libraries, the Yelm location has the highest volume of people and materials going through its doors. It serves comparatively to some of the system’s larger libraries.

Yelm Library Manager Nichole Thode said Tuesday is one of the library’s busiest days and on average serves about 700 people. 

Council members as well as library representatives acknowledged that with Yelm’s growth projections, the library will have to figure out to meet the growing needs. That might include needing a larger space, which is something TRL would also be willing to discuss.

The majority of TRL’s library buildings are owned by municipalities, but there is a mix where the library system does own some buildings.

In Yelm, the city purchased the current space in the Fay Fuller Building at Prairie Park with a $1 million bond. The city pays $130,000 annually plus about $30,000 annually in maintenance and condo fees.

Mayor JW Foster asked, hypothetically, what would happen if Yelm were no longer financially able to provide a library building.

Grubbs said she couldn’t answer that.

“TRL is not in the financial position to purchase and maintain a building at this time.”

The great thing about exploring options of what to do with the soon-to-be vacant building, said Foster, is that the city can hold that building in limbo to make sure it’s the right fit.

So far, a handful of organizations have expressed interest in the space including TRL, Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County, Gravity Program from Capital Region ESD 113, and creating a Veterans Service Center in collaboration with veterans programs like the VFW, The American Legion, and Lacey Veterans Hub.

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