Roof concerns prompt library closure
UPDATE (as 8 a.m. Friday, April 18): Library plans to reopen Monday, April 21, at 2 p.m.
By Craig Howard
The timing of National Library Week has been less than ideal for Pamela Mogen and her colleagues.
Mogen, the longtime director of the Liberty Lake Municipal Library, was on hand at Tuesday night's City Council meeting to accept a proclamation observing the week, only a few hours after the local storehouse of books on Mission Avenue was closed due to concerns over a water-damaged roof.
"We'll have to take a raincheck on everyone heading to the library," said Mayor Steve Peterson after thanking Mogen and her staff for their "outstanding work."
The city made the call to temporarily shut down the library in the early afternoon after a crew hired to re-roof the building discovered weakened trusses over a section of the former warehouse.
"When they peeled back the membrane (old roof tiles), they found the damage," said City Engineer Andrew Staples. "It was completely invisible from the outside. We were definitely surprised."
City Administrator Katy Allen told council that the closure was "precautionary" and emphasized that the city will be working diligently "to fix the structural connections in question." She added that the governing board will likely be called to a special meeting at some point this month to approve emergency funding for the repairs. Meanwhile, Staples is consulting with a structural engineer to determine the next step for the building.
Council has already approved funding for re-roofing of both the library and the police precinct.
The current site of the library was once home to Northern Technologies. The city purchased the building for just under $2 million in 2008 and spent another $675,000 to transform the structure – spanning 37,400 square feet – into the new headquarters for the library and the Liberty Lake Police Department. The library officially opened in March of 2009.
Allen said the police department may be utilized for some materials checkout while the library is closed. In response to Council Member Keith Kopelson's question about the impact of the closure on library employees, Allen noted that "the goal is to make sure no employees will be financially impacted."
Town Square Park update
Council also received an update on a project to the west of the library on Tuesday night. Staples presented an overview of the Town Square Park design, a greenspace slated for the center of the city on just over two acres off Meadowwood Lane.
The project would add 56 parking spaces, sidewalks, landscaping, a restroom and lighting to the now barren space just east of the Liberty Lake Farmers Market. Cost estimate on the park sits at $744,000, under the $785,000 budgeted by council.
Council Member Odin Langford was less than enthused about one proposed landmark in the park – an
entryway arch that was part of the original plan drawn up years ago and revised by Welch Comer Engineers as part of a more cost-effective budget. Allen emphasized that the arch was "a nice feature, but not an essential feature" and could be included as a line item in the bid "so council could decide whether to include it or not."
"Our goal is to not keep adding things to this project," Allen said. "I'd rather have the discussion tonight than when we bring it back to award the contract."
Staples said plans are to award the bid at the second council meeting in May and begin construction by the end of June with the park being wrapped up sometime in September or October.
Waste management questions continue
Allen's report on Tuesday night also included the latest on the city's attempts to secure a waste management contract in light of Spokane County taking over regional solid waste from the city of Spokane. Liberty Lake has aligned with a group of jurisdictions that includes Spokane Valley, Cheney, Deer Park, Millwood and Airway Heights to test the waters for waste management alternatives and, in Allen's words, "see what the best cost options are."
Allen added that "some questions have emerged" in response to the city's request for proposals. Meanwhile, Liberty Lake has yet to receive any cost estimates from Spokane County. The county issued a letter to the city on March 31 requesting an answer on an interlocal agreement by April 30. That deadline has now been moved to May 15.
Peterson said the debate over whether to sign on with the county or a private company for waste management "includes a lot of variables," adding that a final agreement would need to be reached by November.
In other city news:
• Council heard a presentation by Yoko Colby of Minapsys on Tuesday night. The company specializes in online surveys that, in Colby's words, "produce meaningful results through discussion, collaboration and evaluation." The city is considering utilizing Minapsys to gather follow-up information from the parks, recreation and open space survey and conduct future surveys. Since the company is attempting to break into the municipal market, there would be no initial cost to the city.
• Jennifer Camp, the city's Parks and Open Space superintendent, provided an update on spring maintenance, noting that runoff has led to bunker damage at Trailhead and the need to replenish sand. She added that several irrigation breaks at the course have already been repaired. Camp also noted that diseased trees have been taken down along upper Country Vista with plans to replace them with red sunset maples. The city has also recently hired Nick Arellano, a full-time irrigation technician, who previously worked for the city of Coeur d'Alene.
• Mayor Pro Tem Cris Kaminskas said on Tuesday that initial inspections of the deck at Trailhead have revealed some rail damage, but it appears that, overall, the structure is "solid." The city is still waiting on a report on the deck from a structural engineer. Asbestos has also been removed from the lower level of the Trailhead facility, which should reopen at some point later this month.
• Allen received support from council for an idea to issue a request for proposals on a potential land lease at the Trailhead site "to test the market." The city is looking at ways to fund the replacement of the aging building at the golf course that currently houses a pro shop, banquet facilities and the Palenque Mexican Restaurant.
• Allen told council she has had discussions with management at the Hawkstone apartment complex on East Appleway regarding a shuttle van at the facility. Allen said while the vehicle has been utilized by seniors to this point, the city is recommending that shuttle transportation be available to all residents.
• Liberty Lake has been selected as a "Well City" for practices that encourage municipal employees to exercise and practice healthy nutrition. The city will receive a 2 percent reduction in its healthcare premium costs as a result, a yearly savings of $12,000.