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Opinion

Civic Center Bond Issue

Perfect focal point and gateway to Woodinville

Civic Center Bond Issue by Stuart Clark & Bruce Allen, Citizens for a Woodinville Community Center
Woodinville voters will decide May 21 whether the city should sell $7.5 million in bonds to purchase a prime downtown site for a community center.
   Approval of the 20-year bond issue would allow acquisition of 10.5 acres fronting NE 175th Street at 132nd Avenue NE from the Northshore School District at a negotiated price of $5.8 million. The remainder of the bond issue would be designated to acquire three acres to the south for parking. Cost of the bond issue for Woodinville property owners would be 62 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation, or $93 annually for a home assessed at $150,000.
   In surplusing its property last fall, the school district granted first right purchase to the city until the district puts the tract on the open market. The property contains the Old Woodinville School, the Sorenson School buildings, and the adjacent sports fields used annually by thousands. The City of Woodinville presently leases the Old Woodinville School for municipal offices.
   The city is following the recommendations of a Citizens Advisory Panel which studied the community center issue for four months before proposing a citywide bond issue to aquire the 13.5 acres.
   "This is such a unique opportunity to ensure Woodinville remains a people-oriented community," said CAP co-chair Larry Chime. In its recommendations, the CAP said the city should move now because the property is available, the location can provide a range of centralized services for the greater Woodinville community, and the historic schoolhouse is a perfect focal point and gateway to Woodinville.
   The future community/civic center could offer space for community meeting rooms, activity centers for teens and senior citizens, an historic museum, chamber of commerce office, and city administrative offices.
   In preserving the property from commercial development, the city would acquire the Sorenson swimming pool and gym, as well as the adjacent sports fields, for community use. The acreage would also support continuation of the popular Saturday Market and accommodate a future performing arts center.
   We can conserve this real estate from commercial development. To anticipate that the property would also house numerous community services, including city hall, is even better. The cost of relocating city services to a new site and constructing facilities could exceed the price now available on the entire 13.5 acres.
   Future enhancements proposed by the CAP include a 200-stall parking lot in addition to the present 60 stalls, a traffic signal at NE 175th Street/133rd Avenue NE, and a pedestrian-actuated signal on 131st Avenue NE to link the community with the Jerry Wilmot Green Gateway Park.
   If voters approve the bond issue May 21, other city tax revenues are earmarked to bring the existing buildings up to current requirements for seismic and safety codes. The city's master plan also anticipates future projects that would meet the CAP recommendations for use of the site.