The Edwards Agency

Opinion

Last open space in downtown Woodinville too valuable to sell to developers

downtown open space The citizens of Woodinville have a unique opportunity to preserve the Sorenson School and ball fields as a Community Center Complex.
   The City Council placed the issue on the ballot this spring, and even though the measure received a majority of votes, it did not receive the 60 percent necessary for validation. The council listened to citizen comments and decided to place the issue back on the ballot, lowering the amount from $7.5 to $6 million--just covering the school district land purchase.
   The reasons the council is asking the citizens for this money are:
  1. The land is for sale now; and
  2. There is not enough money in the city's operating revenues to purchase the land.
   Did you have to have a mortgage to buy your house? Could you have paid for your house out of your regular salary and savings? I needed a mortgage to buy my house, and, likewise, the community needs to finance the purchase of this property.
   The council decided that the most essential element was to purchase the land. The remainder of the building upgrades and parking lot acquisition will come from general fund revenue.
   Northshore School District decided to surplus the property as "no longer having educational value." The district gave the City of Woodinville the right of first refusal to purchase the property for a Community Center.
   Commercial land developers have already contacted the school district to purchase the land and place condominiums and retail tenants on the property, and eliminate the ball fields, pool, and gymnasium.
   The Northshore School District has indicated they wish to sell their two parcels to one buyer to maximize the sale dollars. The City Council has already allocated dollars in our six-year capital plan for maintaining and upgrading the roads, walkways, and street lights. They will not be redirecting funds to refurbish this site.
   The Citizens Advisory Panel recommended to the council the maximum "build-out" of the center over the next 15-20 years. Just as you buy your house and work on the things you want to upgrade and change when you have the funds available, the council will do the same with the community center. As funds become available, upgrades can occur.
   It is essential that the citizens of Woodinville retain the "Heart of Woodinville" as a community center complex. The most essential thing to remember is that Sorenson is for sale now and will be sold to either the citizens of Woodinville or a commercial developer. The last open space in downtown Woodinville is too valuable to sell to developers who will asphalt it over.
   Please help retain the community center and vote "yes" for the Community Center Bond proposal in September.

Bob Miller, Woodinville citizen