The library took center stage at the Hokah City Council meeting when Hokah Public Library director Sheri Carlson sought information about the newly created building committee.
After learning three weeks ago that several building committee members planned to recommend relocating the library to the basement of the recently acquired school building, Carlson said at the Aug. 1 meeting, she began to ask questions that no one could answer. So, she took those questions to the Hokah City Council.
“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of understanding what the role of the Building Committee is,” she said.
Carlson raised concerns about the group, questioning its authority, scope of activity, and chairman. She also wondered if the committee’s work was on-going or limited to just the newly-acquired school building.
Mayor Mike Walsh explained that he had appointed the committee several meetings ago with city administrator Rod Blank as chairman. Members included Matt Vetsch, Eric Leitzen, Cindy Pfiffner, Mary DeJarlais and a late addition of JoAnne Kochie.
According to Walsh, the committee oversees all city-owned buildings, not just the newly-acquired school building. He emphasized that the committee work was purely informational and members were required to report back to the council.
Carlson asked if the council would consider adding a representative from the library in the decision-making process. She pointed out that moving the library not only affected her, but the whole community.
Following Carlson’s questions, the Building Committee gave its report to the council.
Committee member Mary DeJarlais addressed the meeting with a report on its tour of the school building. She indicated that the building “looked in pretty good shape, some of the classrooms are beautiful,” she said.
She also stated that there were a “lot of possibilities that could be done.” After saying that she thought that relocating the library in the basement was no longer a good idea, she said, “This committee cares, what we want to do is get your ideas. The library is the heart and soul of this town.”
Carlson agreed and urged the constituents to, “get involved in the process, but in a proper way.”
On the suggestion from the audience, Walsh began plans for an open house to allow the community to view the school, adding that all city-owned buildings should be open for inspection.
DeJarlais said, “This might be the catalyst this town need to find out what our new opportunities are.”
Later in the meeting, Don Bissen offered a counterpoint of his own.
“It is my opinion that the building is no use to the city,” he said.
He pointed out that the building would need a new roof at a cost of $50,000 to $80,000 as well as a seal coat for the parking lot.
“I don’t know why the city would want to be in the rental business, he said. “The building is big and will take a lot of maintenance.”
Blank added that the city should move some of their offices to the school soon to avoid inflated insurance premiums that usually accompany unoccupied buildings.
Hokah’s community pool will close Aug. 20. There will be games and other activities including a doggie swim from 6-8 p.m.