Yelm City Council member Joe DePinto says early talks are underway between himself and Timberland Regional Library Executive Director Cheryl Heywood to discuss potentially moving the Yelm library to a new location.
DePinto said he had time scheduled to meet with library leadership and owners of the Nisqually Plaza shopping center on Thursday to look at a space that would allow the branch an additional 5,000 or so square feet.
Yelm Timberland Library is currently located at 210 Prairie Park St. in a building that was purchased almost a decade ago by the city through a 20-year library bond, DePinto said.
These discussions are in the early phase and no proposal is currently being considered by either the council, the city or the library.
DePinto said discussions for a potential relocation arose due to costs and loss of potential revenue associated with operating the library out of the second floor of the building, which he said costs the city tens of thousands of dollars each year.
According to Mayor JW Foster, the library does not pay rent or lease out the building space since the library is in a cooperative agreement with the city to maintain the space. These agreements within the library system are often city specific, Foster said.
During the biennium budget amendment process earlier this year, it was revealed the library had used up its full two-year operations and management budget on unanticipated HVAC and elevator repairs.
The library’s operations budget was $25,000, but the unexpected repairs cost the city $50,000.
For DePinto, that was the tipping point.
“There’s a lot of costs associated with running that library … For the taxpayers, and this is my opinion, I want to see if we can have some of these conversations to lower the cost for the library and the city,” he said.
DePinto said he’s now in favor of selling the property, hopefully for more than the approximate $1 million the city paid for it, especially with the possibilities of financial insecurities down the road due to the coronavirus recession and health crisis.
The space being looked at is at the Nisqually Plaza shopping center, located between the future Grocery Outlet and Dollar Tree, DePinto said.
He believes the move could bring about a revitalization for the shopping center, which has a number of vacancies.
“This is something that council member DePinto has taken up on his own volition,” Foster said, stressing that there’s currently no proposals on the table to bring forward a relocation.
Foster added that he’s not sure if the library is ready to move and that the initial costs could be large, but he welcomes whatever efforts DePinto decides to bring forward to the council.
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