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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane again expands hours at four library branches to serve as cooling centers

Evangeline Woods-Gary finds a cool dome of water on June 26, 2021, at the Coeur d’Alene Park splash pad in Spokane.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Four Spokane Public Library branches will have extended hours this week, as Spokane officials have reactivated the city’s cooling plan in response to hot temperatures expected through Sunday.

The Central (906 W. Main St.), Hillyard (4110 N. Cook St.), Shadle (2111 W. Wellesley Ave.) and Liberty Park (402 S. Pittsburg St.) branches are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, city officials announced.

The locations have enough capacity to serve 1,784 people. The city will open additional locations if necessary, according to Tuesday’s announcement.

“August temperatures are expected to heat up again, so the cooling centers portion of the City’s hazard sheltering plan is being reactivated to give people a place to cool off,” Mayor Nadine Woodward said in a statement. “Air conditioning, water and restrooms will be available at these branches for anyone who needs a place out of the heat.”

The city activated the cooling plan last month during an excessive heat watch in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

The plan was then criticized by a number of community members, nonprofits and some members of the Spokane City Council. Several community groups called on lawmakers to adjust city ordinances on emergency shelters, such as by lowering the temperature threshold for when the cooling plan must be activated. The current ordinance requires cooling centers when the high is predicted to be at least 95 degrees for two days or more in a row.

The city administration has said such policies are set by the City Council, which has not made any adjustments.

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for the Spokane area from noon Wednesday through 11 p.m. Friday.

The National Weather Service predicts highs from the mid 90s to the mid 100s from Wednesday to Friday in the Inland Northwest. Highs in the upper 90s, at least, are expected in Spokane through Sunday.

As was the case during last month’s heat wave, Spokane Transit Authority is offering free rides to customers unable to afford bus fare to or from cooling centers in Spokane.

City officials on Tuesday also pointed to other amenities available to help folks keep cool, including splash pads operational from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 19 parks and six pools, open six days per week at varied hours. Information on resources is available through My Spokane 311, 211, the Spokane Homeless Coalition and the SNAP Resource Guide.