MLSD board considers warehouse options
Moses Lake School Board members Shannon Hintz (left) and Kevin Fuhr (right) hand out certificates of appreciation to faculty and staff at a regular school board meeting last Thursday.
Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald
Two 9,600-square-foot warehouses on 22nd Avenue at the Port of Moses Lake across from the Job Corps Campus. The warehouses are leased by the Moses Lake School District and used for storage.
Staff Writer | March 30, 2022 3:35 PM
MOSES LAKE — The Moses Lake School Board is potentially looking to adjust its use of storage space.
To do so, the district may look to use an existing building or two for storage rather than rent from the Port of Moses Lake.
At a regular meeting on Thursday, longtime Board Member Susan Freeman said she wanted the board to reconsider a lease it holds on two large warehouses at the Port of Moses Lake when the leases expire at the end of March.
“I want us to take a good, hard look at the bus barn on Ivy for maintenance and storage,” Freeman said.
Jeremy O’Neil, MLSD chief operations officer, told board members the district leases the two 9,600-square-foot warehouses primarily for storage of seasonal equipment.
After the meeting, Port of Moses Lake Executive Director Don Kersey said MLSD pays $0.34 per square food on a monthly basis. He added that month-to-month leasing is an option for the district and the rate would not be impacted by such a change.
Freeman was also concerned that the matter of renewing the lease did not come before the board earlier, saying this doesn’t give board members much time to consider alternatives.
“Why are you coming to us five days before the lease expires?” Freeman asked.
O’Neil said he had not been made aware of the situation until recently because all of the port’s emails were sent to his predecessor, Joe Connolly, who left the district in mid-2021.
Freeman was also concerned the Port of Moses Lake is at “the far edge of the district” and trips to and from the warehouses can often mean a 20-mile round trip.
O’Neil said if the MLSD does not sign a new lease, a month-to-month rental might be an option but any monthly rental rate with the Port of Moses Lake would likely cost the district more rather than less.
“I can assume the value will go up,” O’Neil said.
Board members agreed to hold a special meeting this coming Thursday, March 31, to consider alternatives — especially the use of existing MLSD buildings on Ivy Avenue that are currently unused.
“Give us some options besides the lease,” Board President Kevin Fuhr told O’Neil. “Are there other options within the district?”
“We have a five-bay bus garage,” Freeman said. “I know it’s got lead paint in it, but that’s not an issue if there are no children present.”
“That would be more financially responsible,” added Board Member Alana DeGooyer.
The Port of Moses Lake did not respond to requests for comment on this story prior to press time.
Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CORRECTION: O'Neil did not indicate that the district pays $1 per square foot for leased storage space from the Port of Moses Lake. This correction has been incorporated above.