Now that it’s no longer needed for firefighting support, the Winthrop Barn may soon be open for its usual business of hosting events.
At last week’s Town Council meeting, Mayor Sally Ranzau said that some rentals are scheduled in the near future, subject to what state COVID protocols are in place. Currently, masks are required for all indoor events.
Town Clerk Michelle Gaines said that enforcement of protocols would be up to the renter, and not the town. She said the lease agreement specifically states that whatever state guidelines are in effect at the time of the rental must be observed.
The town recently took over management of the multi-use facility from the nonprofit Winthrop Auditorium Association, and made slight adjustments to usage fees. Town staff are now handling reservation requests. Plans call for the town to hire a full-time manager for the Barn as soon as possible.
The Barn has been closed to activities since early in 2020 because of COVID-related concerns. The town and Auditorium Association ended their agreement in June 2021.
For the most part, usage fees will remain the same through 2021, but will be revised for 2022.
When the coronavirus restrictions were imposed last year, all the concerts, meetings, weddings and other gatherings that would have filled the Barn had to cancel their bookings. Other major happenings including the Winthrop Kiwanis Bite of the Methow, the annual gathering of the Zumiez sales staff, Winthrop ’49er Days and the Winthrop Vintage Wheels Show all canceled their Barn dates. The annual Christmas at the End of the Road appearance of Santa Claus was also canceled, as was the holiday shopping bazaar. Other Barn regulars such as the monthly “First Tuesday” meeting of the Methow Conservancy and monthly meetings of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce went virtual.
The Winthrop Town Council returned to “live meetings” in the Hen House room of the Barn in July, but moved its sessions to the meeting room at the Winthrop Rink for the past several weeks. Ranzau said the council meetings will now return to the Barn. The option to attend meetings via the Zoom platform will remain in place.
In other business, Ranzau said the town has not yet been able to engage a contractor to build new public restrooms at Confluence Park on Riverside Avenue during a busy construction season, but will continue trying.