Winthrop will soon have a couple of town-owned empty buildings on its hands, in addition to the former public works shop, so the Town Council will conduct an informal workshop in February to discuss possible uses.
The Okanogan County Fire District 6 fire hall on Englar Street, which the town currently rents to the district, will be vacated later this year when District 6 occupies the new fire station now under construction on Horizon Flats Road.
The Winthrop Library on Highway 20, another town-owned building that is operated by NCW Libraries, will also be vacated in June.
The former public works shop on Bluff Street was replaced by a new facility on Horizon Flats Road. The old shop building needs to be removed, Town Clerk Michelle Gaines said in an email, but the property could be sold.
Another town-owned building, the Visitor Information Center at the four-way stop, is used by the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce for its tourism-promotion activities and that is expected to continue. The town also owns the Winthrop Rink, which is operated under contract by a separate nonprofit, and the Winthrop Barn, whose operation the town staff is now handling after the Winthrop Auditorium Association stepped away from running that facility.
At their meeting last week, Town Council members agreed to a proposal by Mayor Sally Ranzau that they set up an informal workshop session to discuss the library, fire hall and public works shop properties “to try to figure out the best uses for these facilities.”
Ranzau has suggested that the Winthrop Marshal’s Office, which now operates out of leased space on Riverside Avenue, could possibly move into the District 6 building on Englar Street when it is available. “The fire hall could probably be a nice spot for them [the Marshal’s Office],” she said at last week’s meeting. The library building has in the past served as an information center.
The workshop will be scheduled to follow either the Feb. 2 or Feb. 16 council meeting. It will be held on the Zoom platform, as was last week’s council meeting. The council’s meetings had resumed in the Henhouse room at the Winthrop Barn, but Ranzau switched them back to virtual meetings because of concerns about the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
In other business
• The council learned the Deputy Clerk Cindy Hicks has resigned to take a position with the City of Omak. Hicks will be temporarily replaced by Suzanne Levis, the wife of Public Works Director Jeff Sarvis, while the town seeks a permanent replacement. Levis has extensive experience handling similar responsibilities in state and municipal government, including with the state auditor’s office, Ranzau said, and is “very qualified to fill in.”
• The council approved a schedule of fees for renting the Winthrop Barn for events, from half a day up to several days. The council earlier agreed not to charge rent for vaccination events or blood drives.