June 8, 1998
City, Historical Society apply for grant to buy old schoolhouse
by Andrew Walgamott
WOODINVILLE--The City of Woodinville and Woodinville Historical Society applied for a state grant to buy the Northshore School District property last week. The grant, if approved by the Heritage Resource Center of the Washington State Historical Society, would give Woodinville $400,000 and require a city match of $800,000 subject to council approval. Money would go to buy the two acres that include part of the Sorenson complex known as the Old Woodinville School, and parking lot. But Carter Hawley, acting city manager, said submittal of the grant doesn't obligate the city to commit to buying.
Along with the grant application were letters from the mayor of Woodinville and the president of the Historical Society. "This grant will help our community purchase and save the historic Old Woodinville School," wrote Mayor Don Brocha. "It is our plan to partner with the city in acquiring this historic Works Progress Administration (WPA) school building, not only to save the school," wrote Phyllis Keller, "but to provide the space necessary to display and share Woodinville's history with its residents."
It isn't clear what is threatening the school. Northshore officials have said they surplused it and the Sorenson complex, for the city. The city was forced to act quickly for the grant. On June 1, the society requested the city apply. The deadline for applications was June 5. Without a council meeting in between, the council authorized staff to work with the society on an application that didn't obligate the city to buy the property. By Tuesday a draft version of the grant, written by historical society member and former Mayor Lucy DeYoung, was forwarded to Hawley. But key language, such as clauses reading "subject to City Council approval and inclusion in the Capital Improvement Plan" still needed to be inserted.
By Friday, a copy forwarded to the city showed staff concerns had been addressed. But, not everyone was pleased with the speed at which the council was moved. Councilwoman Barbara Solberg said she wanted to see the final grant application before the full council before it was sent off. "I'm very disappointed that the Woodinville Historical Society, such a worthy group, didn't give the City Council more time to study this," Solberg said.
Hawley said the society came to staff two months ago asking the city to co-sign on a grant, but said she told them it was premature to do so at the time.
The Old Woodinville Schoolhouse was originally built in 1915 and remodeled through the WPA in 1936. In the 1990s, city voters twice rejected bond proposals to buy the entire Sorenson complex. If the city buys the schoolhouse, it could potentially be part of a partnership with the Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District and Northshore youth sports leagues to purchase the entire 10.55-acre Sorenson complex, according to the text of the grant.