Construction on a new west Pasco branch library likely is to begin within the next month.
Kyle Cox, executive director for Mid-Columbia Libraries, told the library board Tuesday that the building could open to the public at the beginning of January.
"It took a little longer than we wanted, but there's now a sense of excitement among the staff," Cox said.
The board agreed to have Cox handle the rest of the lease negotiations and approve it on its behalf. Cox said the lease could be final as early as this week.
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Mid-Columbia Libraries has been looking for a location for a west Pasco branch since 2010. The branch will be built by developer Dennis Gisi on Wrigley Drive as part of a larger development.
Cox said it would cost about $1.1 million to lease the facility during 10 years, for an average of $109,000 a year. That's about $14,000 more a year than Mid-Columbia Libraries initially wanted to pay for the lease, but the building is 1,000 square feet larger than originally planned.
"That extra 1,000 square feet is going to be our children's area," Cox said.
There still are some details to work out.
The library district's attorney still is reviewing the lease agreement, particularly liability issues.
Cox and Anna Stroben, the library's chief financial officer, said those issues are minor and just require the contract wording to be more specific.
"The problem is we're using a canned contract and Dennis (Gisi) is cleaning it up," Stroben said.
Cox said Gisi also still is reviewing possible needed improvements on Road 76 near the site to accommodate traffic.
The library district will spend about $300,000 to furnish the new branch with shelving, chairs, couches and desks.
Another $220,000 will go for books, movies, music and other materials that will be part of its collection.
"We now have an entire bay of our garage filled with materials for the West Pasco branch," Cox said.
w The board agreed to encourage the Walla Walla Rural Library District and the Walla Walla Public Library to reconcile their differences.
The board decided it would only get involved if one of the districts made that request.
Mid-Columbia Libraries officials talked last month about possibly asking either of the districts if they would want a cooperative agreement with them or even to discuss merging.
Officials with the library district and city library have said they have no interest in such a relationship with Mid-Columbia Libraries.