By Don Nelson
Renewal of the lease that Aero Methow Rescue Service holds for its ambulance garage on town property in Winthrop led to a broader discussion of what should happen on the site at last week’s town council meeting.
Aero Methow has leased the site – at no cost – for 20 years. Volunteers built the garage, Executive Director Cindy Button said, and a kitchen was added later.
At last week’s meeting, Button suggested that Aero Methow would like to buy the property it now leases – but needs an extension beyond the lease’s Dec. 31 expiration date to develop a purchase plan. She asked for an extension of six months to one year.
“We’re working on options,” Button said. She said Aero Methow was open to making a monthly payment that could be applied toward the eventual purchase price.
The garage has two vehicle bays, the kitchen and a bathroom, but would need some additional work to be fully up to code, Button said. “The building is up to code for a garage but not for an office or living quarters,” she said after the meeting.
Button said Aero Methow needs only a portion of the site, which also includes the town shops. “We need just enough room to maneuver without affecting anyone else,” she said.
Council member Rick Northcott said he’s not opposed to extending the lease, but suggested that the council needs to have a more detailed discussion about what the town should do with its property.
“What are we doing with the property?” Northcott asked, adding that the site is “old, dilapidated and polluted.” He said discussions should include whether the town will move its maintenance operations, what to do about new quarters for the police department, and how plans for the property – including selling all of it – might fit into the town’s overall capital program.
Northcott said discussions in the past have raised possibilities including a new library or a city park for the site. “We’ve talked about all kinds of possible uses,” he said. “We need to look at all the options … We really need the maintenance department to figure out its needs and the costs of moving.”
The council agreed to extend the Aero Methow lease for six months, with no payments. Mayor Dave Acheson said the town will review the property’s status and come up with ideas for how the town and Aero Methow might proceed.