Interim Lakewood library site picked; no timeline for opening

The Lakewood Pierce County Library in Lakewood, Washington, has been closed since June due to the need for major repairs.  The building is shown on Saturday, Sept.  24, 2022.

The Lakewood Pierce County Library in Lakewood, Washington, has been closed since June due to the need for major repairs. The building is shown on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.

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The Pierce County Library System on Tuesday announced the site for an interim Lakewood library, but a timeline for the eventual opening is unclear.

The library system has spent the past few months working to secure a site for a temporary branch after its building had to close in June for what officials have called desperately needed repairs.

The new site, Gravelly Lake Drive Southwest and Alfaretta Street Southwest, is a lot a few blocks north of the shuttered Lakewood branch.

In a news release, the system said, “After a comprehensive review of available properties and retail spaces available, the Pierce County Library System selected this location given its proximity to public transportation, convenient location in the downtown, enough room for adequate parking, and being able to support the nearby elementary school.”

Plans call for “an approximately 7,000-10,000 square-foot library on the property,” according to the release. “The interim library will offer full services including browsing shelves and checking out books and movies, using computers and Wi-Fi, participating in classes and events for all ages, as well as spaces for reading, studying and public meetings.”

According to the library system, “This is the fastest solution in the shortest period.”

The system plans to lease the land “and own the building, which is estimated to cost approximately $4 million.”

Gretchen Caserotti, executive director for the library system, wrote a memo to Board of Trustees members ahead of their September meeting outlining plans.

“Our intent with a ground lease is to install a modular library building,” she wrote. “A modular building can be leased or purchased and if owned, the asset could be moved to a new site in the future.”

Beyond that, not much is known about what’s to come or when.

Mary Getchell, marketing and communications director for the library system, said in response to questions via email, “We don’t have a timeline for opening. We know construction supplies – supply chain issues – and the availability of contractors are playing into the timeline and making such a forecast challenging right now.

“We are working with the City of Lakewood and contractors to develop a construction and opening timeline.”

In Caserotti’s Sept. 21 memo to the board, she noted, “The site development and construction can happen simultaneously, and will likely take at least a year from lease signing to being able to open the doors to the public.”

Meanwhile, roof tarps will continue to be used at the shuttered Lakewood branch at 6300 Wildaire Road SW. The building is in need of an estimated $22 million in repairs to bring the 59-year-old building up to code, according to a structural engineering report.

A community advisory committee is reviewing options for a permanent solution, with its fifth and final meeting set for 10 am Oct. 26. Meeting details and Zoom link are posted online.

The committee will offer a recommendation to the library board and Lakewood City Council in November. The board will determine next steps.

The Lakewood site, before its closure, was one of the system’s most used, with nearly a quarter of a million people visiting the library annually before the pandemic.

Information on Interim services and pop-up locations now in place serving Lakewood can be found at lakewoodlib.pcls.us.

Debbie Cockrell has been with The News Tribune since 2009. She reports on business and development, local and regional issues.

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