Town council approves hospital cooling center

Coupeville council members took a step to protect town residents from hot weather conditions.

Coupeville Town Council members took a step on Tuesday to protect town residents from extremely hot weather conditions.

The council voted during its regular meeting July 26 to authorize Mayor Molly Hughes to negotiate and sign an interlocal agreement with WhidbeyHealth to provide a cooling center at the hospital’s Health Education Center when Central Whidbey air temperatures reach 95 degrees or higher.

Last summer, the town’s Neighborhood Emergency Team volunteers coordinated with WhidbeyHealth to provide a cooling center at the same location during the record-breaking heat wave that swept through the Pacific Northwest. As summer temperatures rise, Hughes said she wanted to codify last year’s impromptu arrangement in case of similar future events.

“This is really just formalizing what we’ve already done once with the hospital, and what they have said they would like to partner on and do again if needed,” Hughes said.

On qualifying days, the free cooling center will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Residents seeking respite from the heat there may enter through the east entrance. Under the draft agreement, town volunteers will staff the center and provide water, snacks, a device charging station and entertainment such as puzzles or board games. The hospital will provide access to the facility, ice, tables, chairs and music.