The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Beka Compton
The Times 

City seeking public input on future of Weller Library building.

The City of Waitsburg is exploring options for the property that houses the Weller Public Library

 

Lane Gwinn

Bronze of Fanny Weller in front of Waitsburg's library.

WAITSBURG-The Waitsburg City Council set a May 19 public hearing date to discuss the future of 212 Main Street, the 1905 Exchange Bank building, which currently houses the Weller Public Library.

At the April City Council meeting, council members discussed the potential of selling the historic property in a city surplus sale. Discussions with the city council have included updating the building, which houses the Weller Library, for American Disability Act (ADA) compliance and the need for extensive repairs to the second floor. The city has struggled to develop a plan that would make wheelchair access a realistic option for the building.

During the April 21 meeting, Walla Walla librarian and Waitsburg resident Twila Johnson-Tate asked whether the city had a plan for the library's books and materials should the city decide to surplus the 212 Main building. She also asked if there was a contingency plan for the continuation of the Weller Public Library at another location.

Hinchliffe said that there was no plan to store the materials and that he did not have a plan for a new library space. He stated that he anticipated the sale to take six months from the start to closing, during which he hoped a new space would present itself.

According to http://www.librarytechnologies.org, the Weller Public Library houses more than 7,000 volumes and circulates more than 2,400 items per year. In 2020, the library moved to a curbside pickup model and debuted a new website that included an easy-to-use checkout system to continue serving library members amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic. Librarian Rosie Warehime, and assistant Jaidyn Brown, provided grab-and-go crafts and activities in place of a long-standing summer reading program.

Currently, the council has not decided to sell the building; however, the City Council is seeking public input on the future of the building and the library.

"The goal here is for us to be able to respond to 'what is the best value for the city, overall, long-term," said council member Karen Gregutt at the meeting. "What will make the most effective library, the most treasured thing we can."

The public hearing will take place on May 19 at 7 p.m. at the Waitsburg Lions Club building at the Waitsburg Fairgrounds. A conference call option will be available to prevent overcrowding and allowing all COVID-19 gathering guidelines to be in place. Details for the call will be available prior to the meeting at http://www.cityofwaitsburg.com.

 

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