The Lewiston City Council unanimously approved a design agreement Monday that allows a local architect to finalize designs for a new rooftop event space at the city library.

The Lewiston Library Foundation has raised $500,000 for the project, which will create a space for as many as 150 people on top of the single-floor northern section of the library. A multipurpose room with capacity for 72 additional people that is included in the design agreement will only be built if the foundation can raise approximately $200,000 in additional funding.

That multipurpose room raised some concern for a couple of councilors. Ged Randall wanted to make sure the city wouldn’t be on the hook to pay for building the room, and Bob Blakey said he would rather see the foundation’s dollars go to other library projects.

But Councilor Jim Kleeburg reminded Randall that the funding for the rooftop and the multipurpose room would all come from the foundation.

“This is money that has been raised from the local community,” Kleeburg said. “It really has no effect on the city budget.”

Blakey has been opposed to the multipurpose room because one of its primary functions would be as an elevated dais for the city council during its regular meetings. He didn’t want to physically raise the council above the level of the audience and thought providing the space for the city council was a waste of money.

But library Director Lynn Johnson said the room would be used frequently for a multitude of purposes.

“(I and the Library Board of Trustees) are discussing the addition of an entirely movable wall there so that space could be used for plays, it could be used for music, it could be used for live performances,” she said. “It would not solely be used for our city council.”

The design firm, Castellaw Kom Architects, also drew up the plans for the multi-year project to renovate the library, which first opened in 2013 at 411 D St. in downtown Lewiston. A timeline in the agreement has the firm completing development and construction documents by the end of this month, with plan review and bidding by February.

Construction should be completed between May and December. Castellaw Kom will also administer the project during construction. Johnson said preliminary designs focus on the use of durable materials that will stand up well to the outdoor environment.

“We want to try to construct something that will last with little maintenance,” she said.

In other business, the council heard a presentation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on its policy regarding electric-assisted bicycles on the levee pathway system. Matthew DeBerard, the lead wildlife biologist at the corps’ Clarkston office, said that although current regulations prohibit any motorized vehicles, a team is looking at the issue.

“That may change, and if it does change we want to do it on a district-wide level so we would be consistent throughout at least the Walla Walla District footprint so there would be less confusion going up and down the river,” DeBerard said.

So-called “e-bikes” are a fast-growing sector of the bicycle market, and Blakey frequently talks about his enthusiasm for the devices. He asked for the presentation to help clarify corps policy in light of his view that there is inadequate signage about whether e-bikes are allowed on the levee trails.

Blakey said prohibiting e-bikes is a slap in the face to tourists and other visitors who are becoming more and more likely to ride them. DeBerard said the public is welcome to offer input by emailing Matthew.A.Tellessen@usace.army.mil or calling (509) 751-0248.

Councilors also directed Public Works Director Chris Davies to have city staff draft an ordinance to implement a proposed $5 per load fee to dump at the waste transfer station in North Lewiston. The facility currently operates at an approximate $300,000 annual deficit, and the fee would recoup about $200,000 of that loss if current trip levels stay the same. A city survey showed broad support for the fee and strong opposition to closing the facility.

City Manager Alan Nygaard said city officials will be working with other waste disposal and recycling program managers in the region over the next several months to see if there are ways they can collaborate to bring down the overall cost of operating facilities like the transfer station. They also want to work together to maintain popular recycling programs that are costing municipalities money because of China’s decision last year to stop buying bulk recyclables from American providers.

And the council gave Parks and Recreation Director Tim Barker the green light to move forward with plans to use $68,500 from the Normal Hill Cemetery’s perpetual care fund for several improvement projects.

They include two new columbariums with 48 niches for remains to help accommodate a growing need. About 70 percent of people chose to be cremated upon death, Barker said. The cost for both columbariums would be $30,000, with an additional $2,000 for landscaping. Potential revenue from the amenities would be about $60,000, he added.

The funding would also cover $20,000 to start a buy-back program for unused, unwanted grave plots; $14,000 for benches, garbage cans and picnic tables; and $1,500 for wayfinding signs at the cemetery’s entrances.

Mills may be contacted at jmills@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2266.

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