June 28, 1999
Following City Councilmember Randy Ransom's suggestion at their June 21 meeting, four councilmembers voted to request a cost appraisal of remodeling the Sorenson School building as an option to constructing a new City Hall.
The City had set aside $4.5 million for construction of a new City Hall. At the meeting, the project management firm The RISE Group and the project's architect firm, Lewis Architects, projected the cost at between $5-8 million, based on estimates by two contractors.
"What it amounts to is that needs expressed by various City departments raised the size of the building to 28,000 feet, which made the projected costs exceed our $4.5 million," said City Finance Director Jim Katica.
Councilmembers Scott Hageman, Carol Bogue, and Mayor Don Brocha agreed with Ransom's proposal, and asked RISE and Lewis to present their appraisal at the Council's June 28 meeting.
Councilmembers Bob Miller, Marsha Engel, and Barbara Solberg adamantly protested the vote as a waste of time and money on a study that had already taken place.
"I don't think everyone on the Council was aware that all those questions were answered four years ago," said Miller. "I can respect their need to know those results for themselves. The report that Councilmember Ransom based his proposal on did not include all the documented results of the earlier study. It's just too bad no one asked to discuss this with those of us who knew those results, before voting on it. That earlier study showed that a Sorenson remodel would cost as much as a new building, if not more.
"I don't think Sorenson is a viable alternative. We would just have an old building with inherent problems: replacing wiring, plumbing, restructuring walls. It would just be putting off the inevitable need for a City Hall with a design that will accomodate Woodinville's needs for at least the next 20-30 years."
Engel and Bogue agreed with Miller that Sorenson has two other inherent problems.
"We don't own the property," said Solberg. "Why would we put millions of dollars into a building we don't own?"
"Why should we go down a road we've been down before?" asked Engel. "The Sorenson school has a contract to occupy that building for the next two years. We've already decided that the City desperately needs a better facility than we're in now. That's why we all agreed to buy the three acres next to Sorenson."
The City selected Lewis on the basis of their experience in designing local City Halls. They were also a sub-consultant in the Wilmot Gateway Park structures, are constructing the Kirkland Teen Center and Seattle City Light's North Service Center, and recently completed the Lynnwood Library expansion.