Methow Valley News, August 28, 2019

Winthrop Town Council OKs new library plan including public space

AUGUST 28, 2019 BY DON NELSON

FOWL addresses concerns about increased costs

The Winthrop Town Council has signed off on a 7,300-square- foot plan for a new public library, including community space that will be maintained by the town.

At their meeting last week, a majority of council members were satisfied with maintenance cost estimates provided by Friends of the Winthrop Library (FOWL), the nonprofit group that is spearheading the library building effort.

Earlier, council members had expressed concerns that the town would absorb additional maintenance costs for the 1,300-square-foot portion (including public meeting spaces and bathrooms) that would be Winthrop’s responsibility. The public library portion of the building will be 6,000 square feet and will be maintained with support from the North Central Regional Library (NCRL).

The two portions of the building will be connected by a hallway with controlled access to the library portion, which could be closed off when not in operation. The public space would be available for a variety of activities.

The new library will be built on a .81-acre parcel purchased by the town, on White Avenue near Little Star Montessori School. FOWL has subsequently acquired funds to purchase a smaller adjacent parcel on White Avenue to provide more room for parking and better traffic flow. The preliminary plans for the library assumed that the project would be able to use both parcels.

FOWL will turn the library over to the town of Winthrop when completed. The NCRL, system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide furnishings, staff and equipment for the new building, as well as a reimbursement for maintenance of the portion of the building devoted to library use. Plans now call for groundbreaking in 2020 and completion in 2022.

Expense concerns

At the earlier council meeting, council member Bill McAdow said he would not want to see the town’s finances stretched to accommodate the new building, and that he’s wary of “hidden costs.”

Last week, FOWL Executive Director Jill Sheley appeared before the council to review FOWL’s projections of maintenance costs for the new building, which include support from NCRL. She said that “the net effect on the town is marginal compared to today’s costs.” If solar panels can be installed on the new building, utility costs could decrease, she said.

Sheley also noted that FOWL and NCRL have been in discussions about doubling the number of hours the Winthrop library is open each week, from 29 to 58.

McAdow said that “I feel like my [earlier] questions brought about all this good information.”

The council approved a motion to accept the 7,300-square-foot plan with McAdow, Joseph O’Driscoll and William Kilby voting in favor, and Kirsten Vanderhalf opposed. Council member Ben Nelson was absent.

Vanderhalf said she is not opposed to the library, but that the town already has other facilities that need attention and are not getting it.

McAdow said the building’s benefits “outweigh other considerations.”

“It never gets cheaper to build,” McAdow said. “Let’s spend it while we’ve got it.”

Mayor Sally Ranzau said the new building “is going to give us a social infrastructure that we don’t now have … for all kinds of groups.”

In a memo to the council, Town Planner Rocklynn Culp said that “FOWL’s goal is a net zero expense to the town over existing library expenses. They do not want the new library to be a burden to the community.”

After the building is completed, FOWL may remain involved as “an active managing volunteer organization, working alongside NCRL to keep operational expenses at a minimum for the town.”

Culp said a final construction agreement is being worked out and may be ready for review at the council’s Sept. 4 meeting.

FOWL estimates that the building’s costs will not exceed $4.5 million. The state Legislature’s recently adopted capital budget includes $2 million to support the new library’s construction; most of the rest is expected to be raised through private donations.

The existing library was always intended to be a temporary site. With less than 1,200 square feet, the library has no room for expansion and is often crowded, particularly for special events. Although small, the Winthrop library has the highest per-capita usage in the NCRL system.

Article originally appeared here

Methow Valley News, July 17, 2019

Winthrop library plans come into sharper form

BY DON NELSON

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Photo by Don Nelson
Angela Morris of the North Central Regional Library addressed a Winthrop library information session last weekend.

Design is still a work in progress

The proposed design for a new public library in Winthrop continues to evolve but goals for the facility haven’t changed, interested residents were told at an informational meeting last Saturday (July 13).

A sizeable crowd at the Winthrop Barn listened attentively as representatives of Friends of the Winthrop Library (FOWL) — the nonprofit group that is spearheading the new library effort and the fundraising for its construction — and the project’s architects talked about plans for the building.

The new library will be built on a .81-acre parcel purchased by the Town of Winthrop, on White Avenue near Little Star Montessori School. FOWL is also hoping to acquire an adjacent smaller lot to provide more space for the building, parking and landscaping. Although some private funds have been pledged toward that purchase, FOWL doesn’t yet have the necessary financing to buy the parcel.

FOWL estimates that the building’s costs will not exceed $4.5 million. The state Legislature’s recently adopted capital budget includes $2 million to support the new library’s construction; most of the rest is expected to be raised through private donations.

FOWL will turn the library over to the town of Winthrop when completed. The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide furnishings, staff and equipment for the new building, as well as maintenance, for the portion of the building devoted to library use. Plans now call for groundbreaking in 2020 and completion in 2022.

Current plans call for a 7,300-square-foot building — reduced from earlier projections of around 8,000 square feet — that would include a 6,000-square-foot library area, connected by a hallway to a 1,300-square foot public use space that would be the town’s responsibility. The library portion could be closed off when not in operation, but the public space (including restrooms) could be kept open for a variety of uses. The two spaces would share main entrances.

Earlier, FOWL selected Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline to coordinate in designing the new building. Both are Seattle-based architectural firms with extensive experience in the Methow Valley.

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Graphic courtesy of Friends of the Winthrop Library
A preliminary scheme for siting the new Winthrop library includes two public entrances and parking access off of Norfolk Road.

Community needs

The existing library on Highway 20 adjacent to Mack Lloyd Park was always intended to be a temporary site. With less than 1,200 square feet, the library has no room for expansion and is often crowded, particularly for special events. Although small, the Winthrop library has the highest per-capita usage in the NCRL system.

At Saturday’s session, FOWL board Chair Shannon Polson and Executive Director Jill Sheley reviewed the research and community needs assessment completed over the past 18 months to determine the facility’s parameters. Ray and Mary Johnston of Johnston Architects, and Margo Peterson Aspholm of Prentiss Balance Wickline, talked about designs, schematics, materials and other considerations for the new building.

Ray Johnston told the audience that the architects have continued to refine the design “with your help.” The plan calls for meeting rooms, separate gathering areas for teens and younger kids, a “living room” with a fireplace, expanded access to technology tools, and many more books.

Aspholm said the assumed acquisition of the adjacent lot “gives us some breathing room” for the building and its environment. The proposed entrance would be off of Norfolk Avenue rather than directly onto White Avenue. The two main entries — described as the “river” and “mountain” entrances because of their orientation — would provide a dramatic introduction to a building that Aspholm described as “the crossroads for the community.”

The architects said that to the extent possible, they will use local materials that “celebrate” the Methow Valley’s history and natural ambiance. They anticipate a “parklike setting” for the structure, and potential connections to the area’s recreational trails.

Ray Johnston said that the plan is to create a large “clear span” space that doesn’t need posts for structural support.  Several potential designs were presented, with differing rooflines (gable or shed) and building profiles. Lighting, acoustics and heating/ventilation systems have to be designed specifically for library needs, Ray Johnston said.

Angela Morris, director of public services for Wenatchee-based NCRL, was on hand as well. In response to a question, she assured the crowd that all the furnishings and equipment the expanded library will be new.

No additional taxes will be required to build or operate the new library. Town residents currently pay a library district assessment which goes to the NCRL system.

Article originally appeared here

Methow Valley News, May 29, 2019

FOWL names Jill Sheley as executive director for library effort

 BY DON NELSON

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Jill Sheley

Friends of the Winthrop Public Library (FOWL) has named Jill Sheley as its executive director, effective June 1.

FOWL is a nonprofit organization that has been working since 2017 to bring a new library to Winthrop. The organization is spearheading the building project and private fundraising efforts for the new facility, and will turn it over to the town of Winthrop when completed. The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide furnishings, staff and equipment for the new building, as well as maintenance.

Sheley, a resident of Winthrop for 10 years, has had a long track record of leading complex projects as a management consultant, according to a FOWL press release. Since founding her own company, S2 Advisors, in 1997, Sheley has guided strategic and tactical business planning and implemented complex process and technology improvements for her clients. Sheley, a native Texan, is a graduate of Texas A&M University where she earned a bachelor of business administration degree with a concentration in accounting.

“Jill’s professional experience, along with her many years of service to multiple valley organizations, make her perfectly suited to take the helm of this legacy community effort to create our new library,” said Shannon Polson, FOWL’s board chair, in the press release.

Sheley, her husband and their twin sons moved to Winthrop in 2009 to enjoy its skiing, biking, golf and much more. She founded the junior golf program at Bear Creek and is treasurer of the Confluence Art Gallery in Twisp. She’s volunteered as a Nordic ski coach, an alpine race coordinator, a Guardian Angel and a high school English tutor, according to the release.

“I am honored the board has confidence in me to lead FOWL towards its mission of creating a library where people can connect, access worldwide learning resources and discover and explore their passions,” Sheley said in the release. “I believe our new library will draw people together, and every single person will feel welcome and delighted to enter the front door of a place that reflects the community’s values, hopes and needs.”

FOWL announced recently that is has selected Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline to coordinate designing the new building. The new library will be built on a .81-acre parcel purchased by the town, on White Avenue near Little Star Montessori School. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2020. Preliminary conceptual sketches show an 8,400-square-foot “footprint” for the building.

FOWL is hosting two community meetings/workshops to gather public input on the project. The first meeting will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday (June 2) at the Winthrop Barn. The second will be on July 13 at 10 a.m., also at the Barn.

FOWL is a registered 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, visit www.winthroplibraryfriends.org.

Article Originally Appeared Here

Methow Valley News, May 22, 2019

FOWL to host workshops on new library

 BY METHOW VALLEY NEWS

Friends of the Winthrop Public Library (FOWL), the nonprofit organization working to bring a new library to Winthrop, will host community meetings/workshops in June and July to gather public input on the project.

The first meeting will be at 2 p.m. on June 2 at the Winthrop Barn. The second will be on July 13 at 10 a.m., also at the Barn.

Shannon Polson, chairperson of FOWL board of directors, said the group is hoping for meaningful attendance at each event “for maximum community engagement.”

FOWL announced last week that is has selected Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline to coordinate designing the new building.

The new library will be built on a .81-acre parcel purchased by the town, on White Avenue near Little Star Montessori School. FOWL is spearheading the building project and private fundraising efforts for the new facility, and will turn it over to the town of Winthrop when completed. The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide furnishings, staff and equipment for the new building, as well as maintenance.

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2020. Preliminary conceptual sketches show an 8,400-square-foot “footprint” for the building. Since early 2017, FOWL has been promoting construction of a new library to replace the overcrowded, outdated building on Highway 20. The Winthrop library is also included in the state’s recently approved biennial capital budget. The project is earmarked for $2 million in state funding when available.

Friends of the Winthrop Public Library (FOWL), the nonprofit organization working to bring a new library to Winthrop, will host community meetings/workshops in June and July to gather public input on the project.

The first meeting will be at 2 p.m. on June 2 at the Winthrop Barn. The second will be on July 13 at 10 a.m., also at the Barn.

Shannon Polson, chairperson of FOWL board of directors, said the group is hoping for meaningful attendance at each event “for maximum community engagement.”

FOWL announced last week that is has selected Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline to coordinate designing the new building.

The new library will be built on a .81-acre parcel purchased by the town, on White Avenue near Little Star Montessori School. FOWL is spearheading the building project and private fundraising efforts for the new facility, and will turn it over to the town of Winthrop when completed. The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide furnishings, staff and equipment for the new building, as well as maintenance.

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2020. Preliminary conceptual sketches show an 8,400-square-foot “footprint” for the building. Since early 2017, FOWL has been promoting construction of a new library to replace the overcrowded, outdated building on Highway 20. The Winthrop library is also included in the state’s recently approved biennial capital budget. The project is earmarked for $2 million in state funding when available.

Article originally appeared here.

Methow Valley News, May 15, 2019

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Architects selected to design new Winthrop public library

Two firms with local connections will collaborate

BY DON NELSON

Friends of the Winthrop Pub-lic Library (FOWL), the nonprofit organization working to bring a new library to Winthrop, announced Tuesday (March 14) that it has selected Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline to coor-dinate designing the new building.

Both are Seattle-based architec-tural firms with extensive experi-ence in the Methow Valley. Johnston Architects also has a long history of designing public libraries.

The new library will be built on a .81-acre parcel purchased by the town, on White Avenue near Little Star Montessori School. FOWL is spearheading the building project and private fundraising efforts for the new facility, and will turn it over to the town of Winthrop when com-pleted. The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide furnishings, staff and equip-ment for the new building, as well as maintenance.

“We are incredibly excited to begin the exacting process of creat-ing Winthrop’s future library with these accomplished and creative architects,” said Shannon Polson, chairperson of the FOWL board of directors, in a press release. “Both Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline have extensive experience working in the Methow Valley and deep respect for the com-munity’s vision for this important public place. “

FOWL chose the architectural collaboration after a selection pro-cess that considered three candi-date architectural teams over nearly six months, according to the press release.

Johnston Architects has created nearly 30 community libraries. The firm managed a program and design process that resulted in the creation of TwispWorks, and has also created numerous valley homes.

Ray Johnston, a principal of the firm, has already contributed to the new Winthrop public library effort. In December 2018, he helped the community assess its vision and goals by leading a workshop that collected information from partici-pants about their ideas and hopes for their new library.

Balance Wickline — with offices in Seattle and Winthrop — has deep connections to the Methow Val-ley. Firm architects Tom Lenchek and Margo Peterson-Aspholm have both designed numerous residences here. Additionally, they were the architects of the new Little Star Montessori School, and they have contributed pro bono services to a number of Methow Valley commu-nity projects

.“It’s an honor to work with the Johnston team,” said Peterson-Aspholm. “We respect them person-ally and professionally, and we share a love of the valley, too. But most importantly, we share a fundamental belief in the power of architecture to foster community.”

The firms will next start to formalize the wants, needs and parameters of library stakehold-ers, including the community of library patrons, the Town of Win-throp, FOWL, and the North Cen-tral Regional Library, according to the press release. After that, master planning for the site and creating a schematic design of the building itself will begin. Both architectural firms will collaborate throughout the entire process.

“We’re thrilled to move full steam ahead,” Ray Johnston said about the partnership with Prentiss Balance Wickline. “Together, and with ongo-ing input and feedback from the community, we will help create a dynamic, functional and beautiful library space that we hope everyone in the valley will celebrate, use and cherish.”

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2020. Preliminary concep-tual sketches show an 8,400-square-foot “footprint” for the building that addresses the major findings of the community needs assessment, Polson said.

Since early 2017, FOWL has been promoting construction of a new library to replace the overcrowded, outdated building on Highway 20.

The new Winthrop library is also included in the state’s recently approved biennial capital budget. The project is earmarked for $2 mil-lion in state funding when available.

Methow Valley News, May 1, 2019

Twisp civic center, Winthrop library included in state’s capital budget

BY METHOW VALLEY NEWS

Two major Methow Valley projects are included in the biennial budget for capital projects adopted last weekend by the state Legislature.

The planned new civic building in Twisp is earmarked for $1.29 million, and the new Winthrop public library is included for $2 million in funding when available.

In addition, the Town of Winthrop is slotted to receive $488,000 for park open space acquisition through the Washington Wildlife Recreation Grants program, which also includes $427,000 for Twisp uplands conservation easements.

State Rep. Mike Steele, R-Chelan, who represents the 12th Legislative District including the Methow Valley, said in a press release that the statewide “brick-and-mortar” construction budget proposes to spend $4.9 billion. Steele is assistant ranking member on the House Capital Budget Committee.

The capital budget makes appropriations for many infrastructure projects across the state including schools, public buildings, parks, low-income housing, water infrastructure and habitat.

Shannon Polson, chair of the nonprofit group Friends of the Winthrop Library (FOWL), which is now in the facilities planning, design and fundraising stages of the project, said in an email that “Friends of the Winthrop Library is deeply grateful to Rep. Steele and Sen. [Brad] Hawkins for advocating for a new library for our community in the state budget. This would not have been possible without the support of the Town of Winthrop and our broader community which have been early and ardent supporters of the past two-and-a half years of careful assessments and ongoing planning.”

Polson added a note of caution: “The recently approved budget increases the probability that state funding might be available for the future Winthrop library, though many steps remain. We will continue to work with Rep. Steele and Sen. Hawkins to explore what’s possible. Any state dollars that could magnify the generosity of local donors and grants would be welcome and will be a tailwind for the ongoing work to build a new Winthrop Library.”

FOWL will raise private funds for and oversee construction of the library on property purchased by the Town of Winthrop at the intersection of White Avenue and Norfolk Road. The building will then be turned over to the town.

The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide all the furnishing and equipment for the new building, as well as maintenance. Construction is projected to begin in spring 2020 with completion about a year later. Since early 2017, FOWL has been promoting construction of a new library to replace the overcrowded, outdated building on Highway 20.

Planning for the new civic building in Twisp has been underway for several years. Inclusion in the capital budget comes at a critical time for the project. In a recent “My Turn” column in the Methow Valley News, Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody said she had recently traveled to Olympia to request funding to enable the construction of the civic building, which will include and emergency operations center.

She noted that an expected federal grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture fell through. “What is more distressing is the fact that state funding awarded by a competitive CDBG grant and a capital appropriation from 2017 totaling $1.5 million, which the town worked so hard to procure, was now at risk to expire if the final $1.25-million funding gap, previously anticipated from federal funds, did not materialize.”

The capital budget allocation closes that gap. “This final appropriation would leverage previous state commitments together with the town’s portion of over $600,000,” Ing-Moody said earlier. She cited the support of both Steele and the 12th District’s other state representative, Keith Goehner.

The Washington Wildlife Recreation grant to Winthrop is earmarked for the purchase a 146-acre property in the Heckendorn neighborhood that was acquired by the Methow Conservation in 2018 to assure that the majority of it will remain as open space.

This article originally appeared here

Methow Valley News, March 27, 2019

FOWL update refines what new Winthrop library should provide Based on variety of community input and growth data

BY DON NELSON

A needs assessment for Winthrop’s new public library is helping the facility’s supporters narrow in on what the building should contain and provide, the Town Council learned last week.

Shannon Polson, chair of Friends of the Winthrop Library (FOWL), the nonprofit group that is coordinating and raising funds for the project, told the council that although the library will be in Winthrop it is being conceived of as a community-wide resource.

The town has purchased a .81-acre parcel on White Avenue as the site for a new library, at the intersection of White Avenue and Norfolk Road,

Since early 2017, FOWL has been promoting construction of a new library to replace the overcrowded, outdated building on Highway 20, which was never anticipated to be a permanent site for the library. FOWL will build the library with privately generated funds and then turn it over to the town. The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide all the furnishing and equipment for the new building, as well as maintenance.

Construction is projected to begin in spring 2020 with completion about a year later.

Polson noted that the Winthrop library has the highest per-capita circulation of any NCRL branch, and is also a popular Wi-Fi spot that even draws visitors who want to get online.

The needs assessment included eight community conversations with more than 40 participants, a town survey that drew 70 responses, several focus groups for library staff, volunteers and local teens, an NCRL survey that drew more than 100 participants, and a “Hopes and Dreams” workshop last December that drew about 60 attendees.

Pulling all that together, along with data about the valley’s population and expected growth, FOWL created a list of “key takeaways” about what the community wants, Polson said.

Those include light-filled spaces, a workable community gathering space and meeting rooms, separate areas for teens and younger children, “cozy” places to read, up-to-date technology and expanded programming for adults and children.

Polson said the library “couldn’t be at a better location” to serve all those needs and connect to other town amenities.

Motivating the project, Polson said, are factors such a growing rural technology divide, the need to address the valley’s poverty challenges, and a growing senior population as well as steadily increasing school enrollment.

Preliminary conceptual sketches show an 8,400-square-foot “footprint” for the building that addresses the major findings of the needs assessment, Polson said. The plan will continue to evolve as FOWL solicits more community input, she said.

The next step is selection of an architect, Polson said. Meanwhile, FOWL is continuing its major-donors fundraising campaign. The group may be able to apply for sizeable foundation grants, she said, but needs to establish a substantial commitment of matching funds first. FOWL expects to hire a part-time executive director in the near future, Polson said.

Article originally appeared here

Methow Valley News, December 12, 2018

Community input on new library speaks volumes

BY METHOW VALLEY NEWS

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Photo by Ashley Ahearn
Kelli Rotstan, left, and Sarah Joy Steele, far right, jotted down ideas for the new Winthrop public library at a community workshop last weekend.

Residents’ ‘hopes and dreams’ sought for Winthrop project

BY ASHLEY AHEARN

On a snowy Sunday afternoon, more than 50 people attended a meeting to share their hopes and dreams for Winthrop’s future public library.

The Winthrop Barn was set up with tables covered in rolls of paper and markers for people to brainstorm, write notes and generally provide the foundational creative juices for the design of the new library. The community gathering was hosted by Friends of the Winthrop Library (FOWL), the nonprofit group that is spearheading the effort to build a new library.

The Town of Winthrop recently agreed to purchase a plot of land next to Little Star Montessori School on White Avenue, paving the way for FOWL’s planning and fundraising efforts to kick into high gear. The inaugural community brainstorming session marked the first step in a design, planning and construction process that could take more than two years to complete.

Ray Johnston, a Seattle architect who owns a home outside of Twisp, has been helping in the early stages of the design process and kicked off the meeting with a presentation about library design trends. Johnston’s firm has designed more than 30 libraries since 1985, including Seattle’s Capitol Hill and South Park branches, as well as the libraries for smaller towns such as Duvall and Maple Valley in King County.   

He said that more recently, his clients have been drawn to designs that promote collaborative activity, minimalize noise, provide performance and display space as well as cozy reading nooks. There’s also been a resurgence in using “nature as teacher,” he said, and incorporating the natural world and indoor-outdoor space into library designs.

“You need to find ways to create spaces that are comfortable for people to learn … Libraries are becoming more of a place of community and family, a collaborative learning environment,” Johnston said.  

Meeting new demands

Five or 10 years ago there was talk that libraries were becoming obsolete, as Barnes & Noble and other bookstore chains took over the market. Now, Johnston says that libraries must meet 21st-century digital demands, right alongside the hardbound page-turning tradition. Gone are the days of the “shushing” stern librarian enforcer. Now librarians are seen as navigators and guides.

Johnston described libraries as an “evolutionary hub” in the community for people to gather and learn new skills, “a place where everyone in a region or culture can come and partake in the ways that culture is evolving and changing and working with technology and other tools.”

After Johnston’s talk, attendees moved over to the picnic table area and began scrawling ideas, drawing pictures and sharing ideas with one another.

“There are no wrong answers today,” said Rachel Macmorran, a member of the board of FOWL. “This is about hopes and dreams. You don’t have to think about parking stall numbers or budgets, it’s more of what your heart wants today. We’ll get practical later, today is for fun.”

Kelli Rotstan and Sarah Joy Steele sat at a table holding markers.

“I want to see a park or splash pad or awesome jungle gym for kids to climb on,” Rotstan said.

“I like the idea of having Jamie’s Place [the adult family home in Winthrop] and Little Star and the skating rink side-by-side,” Steele said. “That’s what people dream about — that walkable list of things to do, and making that list bigger and better for this community.”

Lots of ideas

On the large rolls of paper, other attendees wrote comments:

• “Provide small rooms to provide lessons in art, music or dance.”

• “Intergenerational programs for Jamie’s place — possibly buddy system with teens — letting kids understand that demented adults are still “in there” and do better with interaction. Win-Win for all!!”

• “Charging stations for electric cars and for personal computers etc.!”

• “Puzzles!”

• “Desks and whiteboards, giant pillows, a maker space with materials and tools and a 3D printer.”

• “Smoke-free for fire season and access to water sources when the electricity is out”

• “Shaded outdoor space and a cafe.”

FOWL has not officially hired an architect, though Johnston has been helping with the early stages of the design and said he’d like the job.

“I think there’s so much excitement and so much demand and that’s a great combination. All the ingredients are here,” Johnston said. “It’ll be interesting to gather all these comments because I think we’ll find similarities with other communities but with focuses that are distinctive for Winthrop.”

“It’s Winthrop’s library in one sense but it’s for the whole valley, as well. I would hope that anybody who has ideas gets in touch and gets on record with what they’re thinking and add to the energy that’s developing here,” Johnston added.

Article originally appeared here

Methow Valley News, November 21, 2018

Winthrop nears closing on proposed site for new town library

BY METHOW VALLEY NEWS

By Don Nelson

The Town of Winthrop is poised to close on the purchase of a parcel on White Avenue as the site for a new library, Mayor Sally Ranzau told the Town Council last week.

The .81-acre site, at the intersection of White Avenue and Norfolk Road, is just south of Little Star Montessori School. At an earlier council meeting, Ranzau was authorized to negotiate a purchase price of up to $109,000 plus closing costs.

Ranzau told the council that the town has made an earnest money payment and she hopes to close the deal by the end of this year.

Since early 2017, the local nonprofit group Friends of the Winthrop Library (FOWL) has been promoting construction of a new library to replace the overcrowded, outdated building on Highway 20. FOWL — which will build the library with privately generated funds — and the town have been researching potential properties for about a year, including some city-owned parcels. The existing library site is unsuitable for a new building because it is in a floodplain.

The identified site for a new building is in private ownership, part of a four-lot parcel bounded by White Avenue (also called Twin Lakes Road), Norfolk Road and Greenwood Road.

Construction is projected to begin in spring 2020 with completion about a year later. When the library is completed, FOWL will turn it over to the town to own and maintain. The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide all the furnishing and equipment for the new building.

FOWL chair Shannon Huffman Polson said the group will continue working on a needs assessment and “program study,” research that will be used to determine what kind of building the community wants. To that end, FOWL will host a community workshop on Dec. 9, from 2-4 p.m., at the Winthrop Barn to present ideas and solicit feedback. Architect Ray Johnston of Johnston Architects, a Seattle-based firm with experience designing several public libraries on the west side, will facilitate the discussion.

In other business at last week’s council meeting:

• The council renewed its agreement with the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce to operate the Visitor Information Center adjacent to Town Hall. The chamber hires staff for the center. The town agreed to reimburse the chamber $16,000 for the coming year.

• The council continued a discussion of possible safety improvements for a pedestrian crosswalk that crosses White Avenue at Norfolk Road. The crosswalk, part of the Susie Stephens recreational trail, is marked by lines on the pavement and has pedestrian warning signs from either approaching direction.

In the past, the council has discussed some kind of flashing warning lights at the intersection, but not acted on that idea. Council member Bill Kilby said his informal survey of residents in the area of the crosswalk indicated that they do not want flashing lights, nor do they prefer rumble strips because of the resulting traffic noise. Neighbors might be OK with a light that is pedestrian-activated and not continuously flashing, he said.

As for non-motorized traffic, Ranzau said that the “stop” signs for trail traffic can be lowered so they are more visible to trail users.

Article originally appeared here