The Edwards Agency

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City considering longer lease, upgrades for Sorenson

Sorenson upgrades by Jeff Switzer
WOODINVILLE--An overloaded electrical system, intermittent heat, no hot water, and departments that have grown too big have led the city to renegotiate with Northshore School District for upgrades totaling $35,000 and the leasing of additional space.
   Dean McKee, permit center manager, recently informed the City Council of improvements necessary to bring City Hall up to snuff, recommending a 33-month lease extension allowing the city to operate in the facility through June 2000.
   The current lease, for $2,907 a month--$34,884 a year--runs out Aug. 7, 1997. With 1,000 square feet of additional space for the Police Department (for an additional sergeant) and space for the new Parks Department, the rent would increase $500 a month, or $6,000 annually.
   The boiler, which heats City Hall, needs "a considerable amount of work done," and the school district may buy a new boiler and add the cost to the lease. In addition, the electrical system has varying voltage and wasn't designed for the amount of computer and copy work associated with city business, McKee said.
   If the school district buys into the proposal of amortizing the upgrade costs over a 33-month period, the monthly lease would increase to $4,468. The costs of moving and upgrading communications connections for the two departments were not listed.
   "There isn't 7,000 square feet of space in Woodinville," McKee told the council. "These upgrades in here are pretty vital to operating the city as a business." McKee said the final cost, $7.20 per square foot, is less than the $18 per square foot elsewhere in the city, "so we still have an awfully good arrangement."
   Options considered and rejected included moving the police and parks upstairs in City Hall; lack of ADA accessibility prevented that. The Chamber of Commerce space was also considered, but it was decided it was too small and would take away the visibility of the tourist information center housed there.
   The council has a citizen survey budgeted for next year, with hopes that it will give some guidance on what the taxpayers envision for a permanent City Hall and Community Center.
   "We need a little bit of time to sort out our future," said City Manager Joe Meneghini, who indicated the city should plan on occupying the building for a minimum of two or three years. Even building on the survey, it's going to take a number of years to get there."
   Northshore School District currently has approximately 150 3- to 5-year-old students at the Sorenson facility in the Headstart and special needs programs. Those students will remain there until the fate of the building becomes clearer, said Steve Young, director of Support Services with the Northshore School District. "We're still wanting to cooperate with the City of Woodinville. The ball is in the city's court," he said.
   Students from around the district are bused to Sorenson, centrally located in the district. When the property is eventually sold, the district may construct east and west facilities adjacent to existing schools.
   Woodinville and the school district have a buy-sell agreement for $5.8 million through Dec. 31, 1997.