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Bear Cupboard Food Pantry

Customers gather groceries at the Bear Cupboard Food Pantry inside the former Jefferson School in Coquille. The city-owned building is up for sale as pieces of the property have already been sold for residential development.

COQUILLE — As the City of Coquille moves forward with its plans to sell the old Jefferson School property, councilors debated Monday night as to whether or not now is the time to issue a written notice to its tenants to move out.

Interim City Manager Roberta Vanderwall kicked off discussions Monday at the City Council’s regularly scheduled meeting informing the council that it would be required under Oregon law to at least give its tenants 30 days’ notice. 

The old school, which was listed for sale last month, currently houses the Bear Cupboard Food Pantry, the Coquille VFW and the Friends of the Coquille Public Library. The meeting had a full audience, many of them concerned the Bear Cupboard might have to find a new location.

During discussions, Councilor Julie Nighswonger raised her concerns about the deadline, telling fellow council members it felt short and that she was interested in seeing it extended to at least 90 days.

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Unsure on whether now was the right time to issue a notice, Councilor Matt Rowe also weighed in on the discussions Monday night.

“I think we should just wait and hear proposals on the building and then decide if we’re even going to sell it anytime soon,” he said.

Mayor Kathryn Simonetti and Councilor Ann Parker both expressed their concerns on the condition of the aging building and questioned whether or not it was even safe to operate out of, because the aging building has asbestos that would need to be dealt with.

A motion to give all the tenants of the old Jefferson School 90-day notices to move out failed in a 3-3 tie vote. Simonetti, Parker and Nighswonger voted in favor and councilors Rowe, Mike Layton and Kyle Wirebaugh voted against. Councilor Hugh Pinkston, a member of the Friends of the Coquille Public Library, recused himself from voting. The motion died and no other motions were made on the issue. 

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Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.

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