Yelm Council ponders future plans for YMCA, library, historical museum


With the possibility of a YMCA coming to the Yelm community in the future, members of the Yelm City Council discussed whether they felt the future facility could house other businesses or organizations looking for homes, as well.

Councilors, during a study session on Sept. 5, considered whether a property that will host a potential YMCA facility in Yelm could also house the historical museum, the library and a possible medical facility. Mayor Joe DePinto noted that talks with the YMCA are “still moving forward.”

“I think if we move forward with a major project like the YMCA, we’d have to go to the bond or the people for a vote,” DePinto said. “I personally wouldn’t want to do it otherwise. I think the folks of Yelm would support it.”

The Yelm Historical Museum is currently “out of commission” at the moment, DePinto said. The rehabilitation of the current building could vary between $300,000 and $400,000. The City is looking for a permanent solution rather than repairing the current building, and a permanent fixture could come in the form of the property the City acquired by Mill Road.

Yelm City Administrator Todd Stancil said the “quiet title time” is up, and there is no claim on the property. It’s just a matter of closing on the entire property, he added. The property includes two structures at a combined 1,200 to 1,300 square feet.

“There’s a lot unknown until we get in there about the structure itself, and if they’re sound enough to be used temporarily,” Stancil said. “As far as coming up with a temporary solution, especially with our centennial coming up next year, it may be something that we could do temporarily. In more of a longer-term discussion, it’s actually a pretty good location to have for a museum. It’s highly visible on the state route there, so it may work down the road, as well.”

Stancil added he hopes to get into the property “within the next month.”

Councilor Joshua Crossman said he’d like to keep the potential YMCA and historical museum separate, as he has many questions about how the organization’s building would incorporate the museum. He’d like to know what would happen to the historical museum if the YMCA were to close, and where the properties and entities of the museum would go. He asked if Yelm would also lose the facilities that they wanted to accompany the YMCA, mentioning pools and sports courts.

Councilor Ashley Brooks agreed with Crossman, saying she doesn’t think the historical museum should be located with the potential YMCA. She feels the YMCA and museum would not mix, but would entertain the possibility of housing the library at the YMCA.

Councilor Holly Smith also disliked housing the museum with the YMCA.

Councilor Brian Hess asked why council members are no longer considering the Education and Innovation Center (EIC), which was discussed in previous years as a potential facility for the historical museum and library and other space.

Hess said the council has discussed the EIC three times in the past, with no action taken.

Hess added the EIC would be a minimum of three storeys. The first floor could be the historical museum with all of the artifacts, while the library could be housed on the second floor, he said. The third story could be used in similar fashion to the Yelm Community Center to provide space to rent for meetings or small gatherings.

“We’ve had this, we had the discussion for two years now. It’s only been brought up three times, and I’m wondering why we’re not considering the EIC, which, if we would’ve stayed on point and discussed it, we could probably have it out for bid right now, and it could probably be finished in time next year for our centennial celebration,” Hess said. “If I remember correctly, there were multiple community meetings where they came, and community members said this is what they want to see. By us, two times officially having it on the agenda and a third time a council member saying ‘can we push this off,’ we ignored what the community had to say. We literally ignored what our community members had elected us to work on.”

He said, by having the information necessary, including a design of the EIC, all the city would need to do is look at cost. He’d like to see a YMCA come to Yelm in addition to an EIC building, but asked whether it would be completely built, finished and ready to occupy within a year or two.

Mayor DePinto said Hess had a correct timeline, but added he got a different sense of direction from the council in relation to the EIC. He noted the building would cost over $10 million.

“The last time it was (discussed), multiple council members, the majority from what I gathered, did not think that was the right move to move forward with that. I agreed with the council, as well. I think when you’re having two major projects like with the YMCA and EIC, we have to choose where we want to spend all that money,” DePinto said. “We have to choose which project we really want to concentrate on. The YMCA seems like something that’s more usable for the rest of the community as well as being able to house the museum and library, just as the EIC did but with a lot more partners and a lot more funding that’s hopefully going to be available.”

Hess said the council should have officially voted on an EIC decision.

“We don’t even know where [the YMCA] is going to go. With the EIC, we had the property already. We don’t know who all is going to pay into the YMCA, and if I remember our discussion at the study session, we’re going to have to put together a vote for the residents of Yelm to have a levy or bond passed to raise how many millions of dollars to build it?” Hess questioned. “I think we’ve failed to follow procedure correctly.”

Crossman said the conversation at hand wasn’t about the EIC but a conversation about the YMCA.

Councilor Terry Kaminski said the museum could be temporarily housed at the mentioned property if it works, but agreed with Hess that she doesn’t remember the council putting the EIC on the back-burner. She said the EIC was discussed years before a possible YMCA.

“(Councilor Hess) is right. Two of those things we’re talking about were designated for the EIC, so I’d like to put it back on the table,” she said.