The Ellensburg City Council took a step Monday night toward acquiring a piece of property that holds long-term benefits for the city and community.

The one surprising element may be that many people may assume the city already owns Rotary Pavilion in the center of the downtown. The city does not currently own that land but if plans proceed as expected the City Council will approve the purchase of the pavilion property and the adjacent former Wells Fargo drive-through at its Aug. 16 meeting.

The property is owned by Red Mountain Holding Company. According to the state Secretary of State’s website, Gerald Williams and Kristi Williams are the governing persons of Red Mountain.

Wells Fargo, and its predecessor companies, leased the entirety of the property (drive-through and Rotary Pavilion) from Red Mountain. The land for Rotary Pavilion was sublet to the city. When Wells Fargo opted to close its drive-through the city had until 2020 before the sublet expired.

According to the cost estimates presented the council it will cost the city about $800,000 to acquire the land. That’s a lot of money, but what over the long run it will be seen as a worthwhile investment.

The city has secured a community space in the center of the downtown. It is a space that is already used as focal point for festivals like Jazz in the Valley, or as the gathering spot for events like the Rodeo/Fair Kickoff Breakfast.

Imagine the city without this location. Many of these events would be hampered and possibly forced to relocate.

The Rotary Pavilion is well used. The adjacent Wells Fargo drive-through is a limited-use structure but that small office space is being used for a weekend chamber information center and by groups staging events in the pavilion.

For the past year or so the former drive-through has been used for parking. The uses serve a purpose, but long-term it is easy to imagine that space as doing much more.

The possibilities are limited only by our imaginations and public finances. It is not quite Central Park but over time perhaps it could be transformed into more of a park-like setting — more grass and less pavement. Many towns have this type of feature and its makes them more enjoyable places to visit and linger.

From the short-term perspective, the city took action that will allow existing programs and events to continue for the enjoyment of local residents and visits and to the betterment of downtown business.

Looking years and decades down the road the city took an action that may pay tremendous dividends. We’ve given future Ellensburg a possibility that would not have existed without taking action today. It was a wise decision.


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