by Jeff Switzer
Following two months of diligent work, community leaders once again approached the public for input on Woodinville's proposed civic center.
The Civic Center Citizen Advisory Panel (CAP) held its second public meeting regarding the Sorenson site and the city's civic center master plan on Jan. 9.
At the meeting, CAP Chair Larry Chime and Project Manager Jim Granger outlined the proposed site and unveiled the "big picture" of what the downtown area could look like with the Jerry Wilmot Green Gateway Park and the proposed Civic Center, including the linking trail and tree-lined boulevards.
"There are penalties if we don't acquire this land now," said CAP vice-chair Stu Clarke. "We could end up with a retail commercial center or high-density living on this site."
Chime stressed that the benefits of acquiring the site are both immediate and far-reaching, allowing the city to purchase the historic building, the use of the pool and the gym, as well as becoming owners rather than renters of city government offices and meeting rooms. The city currently pays about $35,000 per year to the Northshore School District for the building's use.
Chime added that the vision for a fuller civic center will be possible in the future because the city will own and control the land.
The city is currently in negotiations with the school district regarding the purchase of the surplused Sorenson site, which comprises approximately 10 acres and include the old Woodinville schoolhouse, the four buildings that are part of the C.O. Sorenson complex and the ball fields. Negotiations could conclude within the next two weeks. Also included in the short term plans are three acres to the south of the school site.
The CAP is preparing its recommendations for presentation to the Woodinville City Council at its Feb. 5 study session and to the Planning Commission Feb. 7. Council action could take place either Feb. 12 or Feb. 26: the final decision whether and how much of a bond will be taken to the voters, based on the recommendations made by the 25-member CAP. If the council recommends a bond issue, the vote could take place in either April or May.
Recommendations the CAP is leaning towards include using the old Woodinville schoolhouse as the center for city government, Historical Society Museum, and the Chamber of Commerce; space for a senior center, adult day center, and youth center; and a trail link with the future Jerry Wilmot Green Gateway park. A performing arts center is also being strongly considered for the site.
Currently, two main funding sources are under consideration for the $8 to $12 million project: general obligation bonds, which are voted on by the residents of Woodinville; and Councilmanic Bonds, which are approved by the City Council by pledging city revenue sources towards the payment of loans.
"Hypothetically speaking, if the bond were for $5 million for the purchase of the site and buildings, property taxes on a $150,000 home would go up about $75," Granger said.