County commissioners: Put plan to build library on hold


— County commissioners want the Rural Library District to put a hold on building a $3.6 million suburban Walla Walla branch until dialogue on forming a larger regional library has been exhausted.

In an Aug. 6 letter, commissioner Chairman Greg Tompkins, writing on behalf of all three commissioners, said, “…It is incumbent on us as the legislative authority of Walla Walla County to request that you the Rural Library Board please suspend your current time line on purchasing property and construction of a new rural library building until all avenues and options can be exhausted.”

The letter went on to state that county commissioners had met with Walla Walla City Manager Nabiel Shawa, who said the city was still interested in finding ways to work jointly to provide library services to county residents.

Tompkins also proposed including College Place, Waitsburg and Prescott in future discussions.

Even though commissioners have made it clear they want to halt the new branch and look at cooperation, the Rural Library District board is an independent legislative body that is not under the authority of commissioners and can still move forward with its plans.

Earlier this year, representatives from the city library and Rural Library District met to discuss various proposals for working together.

The result was that directors of both agencies felt each library should move forward independently.

The Rural Library District also stated recently that it would not consider annexation of the city of Walla Walla for at least three years.

For almost three decades, the Rural Library District and Walla Walla Library have worked together to provide library services to county residents, with the district paying the city to provide services to county residents.

Contentious and diminishing contract negotiations in recent years have led to a break in that working agreement.

Directors of both libraries said they expect this to be the last year the two agencies will enter into a contractual agreement.


Chas 3 years, 1 month ago

I'd prefer the County Library Board commit their money and resources to existing libraries in this Counties smaller towns and their schools. A new building, when there are vacant commercial properties available seems an edifice to ego. We can be sure they'll include a brass plaque with their names.

The Working papers and meeting minutes are available online and worth a read. Still, it's unfortunate they cannot find a way to cooperate and create a truly Great Full-Service Library System.


mcbscott 3 years, 1 month ago

I attended the city council meeting last night & was impressed with the Library User's Coalition proposal and plan. It was specific and addressed all major legal issues as well as accountability. The Commissioners have requested a suspension in the RLD's plans. I find it amazing that the RLD responded so blatantly that it is not open to working to an answer for the common good & plans to continue when public opinion is so adamantly against spending that amount of money to duplicate services. Please voice your opinion & let the RLD know your concerns.


oldguyonabike 3 years, 1 month ago

RLD board is appointed to 5 year terms by county commissioners to provide "prudent" management. Time for the County Commissioners to find qualified board members that can find a solution to a situation that is not unique to Walla Walla. Hopefully, any building permits for a new library will not be issued.


eastoregonian 3 years, 1 month ago

the state law that allows this board to answer to no one must be amended...and a building permit must not be allowed in order to delay that process. Sad it has come down to this.


Chas 3 years, 1 month ago

I'd also add the Walla Walla Port Authority, and any other institution that can collect, levy, or, raise taxes, without consent of the governed. Elected, or appointed. Who watches the watchers? This question is passed to us from history by Plato and subjects of the Roman Empire. We've apparently learned nothing in the interrum. Perhaps it is time to re-examine our State Constitution.


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