The City of Winlock has approved an agreement to lease the Community Building to the Winlock Lions Club, which became effective as of Thursday.
The city and the club had been discussing the possibility of leasing the building since the end of March as city officials were exploring ways to relieve Winlock of the yearly costs required to maintain the facility.
“The city is currently losing around $4,000 a year in just operating expenses,” said Mayor Lonnie J. Dowell, who called the lease with the Lions Club “a good thing” for the community.
Under the lease, which was approved by the City Council April 28 and signed by the Lions Club April 30, the club will absorb all costs related to utilities, regular maintenance and improvements to the building, and will be the entity through whom all interested parties will go through to use the building.
The lease specifically states the Community Building will be used “exclusively as a community event center and for related civic purposes” as it had been under Winlock, with the added caveat that non-profit organizations currently using the facility may continue to hold their regular events as they had done in the past.
The lease also allows the Lions Club will to offer the Community Building to persons and groups outside of Winlock to increase their potential customer base, as the city had prohibited use by such individuals beforehand.
While charging for use of the building, the Lions Club has agreed that, after fixed costs related to upkeep, any income generated through use of the building and other fundraisers will be used then to improve both the interior and exterior of the building.
Before and after each event, the Lions Club is charged with inspecting the building to keep track of any damage, and club has said they expect to impose a security deposit, similar to action being considered by Winlock prior to the lease, in order to stem costs for potential repairs.
The lease is to be automatically renewed annually until either party decides to withdraw from the lease, which they may do after providing 90 days notice. In order to comply with state laws against gifting public resources, the lease requires the Lions Club to pay $1 per year for the building.
While it had been a priority for both the City Council and the Lions Club to let community groups use the building rent-free, as they have been able to under Winlock, Lions Club representative Viola Chickese told the council April 28 it is the club’s intent to at least ask for a contribution from community groups holding large-scale fundraising events to help offset the costs of utilities.
“If they have a benefit and are raising money, we feel it right that they contribute funding for the water bill,” said Chickese, stating the Lions Club was thinking of asking for around $50 per event. “But not for meetings or anything like that. Just large events, money-making events.”
Chickese also said the Lions Club is expecting to retool the way certain items and equipment are being stored, noting, while on a walkthrough with Dowell, they found doors and cabinets they had no keys to access because these facilities had been locked by some of the groups using the building regularly. Chickese added other items had been put away haphazardly and that the Lions Club expects to work with community groups to ensure the building is well-maintained and access to storage is available.
“People can store their stuff there, but it’s going to have to be done in a fashionable manner,” she said. “We don’t have any problems letting people use the building, but we would like the respect of taking care of the building.”
Those whishing to contact the Lions Club to inquire about use of the building may call Chickese at (360) 785-0178, while those who wish to view the lease may do so at City Hall.
Chickese has said the Lions Club already has ideas for fundraising, marketing and improvements to the building and is expected to begin such efforts in the coming weeks.