Northwest NEWS

July 12, 1999


Buying Sorenson property is best solution

   Finally, at last! Someone from this community has come forth and questioned what kind of sanity prevails at city hall by planning to spend between $5-8 million to build a new city hall on the three acres behind the Sorenson complex when they could spend far less than that to acquire the Sorenson complex, remodel the Sorenson School into a very adequate facility for city hall, and have lots of additional benefits to the city: ball fields, farmers' market, gym, historical society, teen center, skateboard park, community center, and parking. (Refer to the June 28th edition.)

   Now wait, before the hue and cry sets in, let's take a look at what these benefits are. First, there are two facilities that make up the Sorenson complex. The old Woodinville School that you see from 175th and the Sorenson School, which consists of the buildings in back (classes, a gym, and swimming pool).

   The Sorenson School, not the old Woodinville School building, has far more advantages than you might think. These buildings were built in the early seventies, not in 1909, as implied in the June 28th article.

   The Sorenson School buildings are not as old and decrepit as the City Council would have you believe. Except for rewiring to accommodate all the new technology that would be needed, I think the classroom portion of these buildings could be easily adapted for use as city hall at a far more economical price to us, the taxpayers, than building a new city hall.

   I would also like to point out the Sorenson School is all handicap-accessible, since it was originally built to house the school district's handicapped program. The new city hall the council is now talking about would have to be three or four stories high (the tallest building in rural Woodinville?) in order to get the square footage they want. So that means the added expense of elevators to provide handicap accessibility.

   Parking and street accessibility--those are two very interesting subjects. We now have a new million-dollar park in the city (Wilmot) with no good parking available, and if we build a new city hall across the street with limited parking, how are we supposed to use either facility? What have we got for our tax dollars?

   In addition, what about parking for Woodin Park and for the proposed King County soccer fields on the Kaplan property? Remember, there can be no parking on the ag lands. Where is everyone going to park?

   In addition, the road access to the proposed city hall will be on two semi-completed half streets (173rd and 133rd). There is limited traffic circulation on the south side of 175th. Will the city buy rights-of-way and complete these two streets increasing their cost even more?

   Will the city decide to extend 133rd north to 175th Street so we have a complete street from 175th to the South Bypass? I didn't think 133rd was a dedicated street, so wouldn't the city have to buy the right-of-way from the school district anyway? The cost just keeps increasing. A new city hall gets more expensive by the minute.

   There seems to be a rather simple solution to these problems, and that would be for the city council to get someone who is qualified to go to the school district and sit down and seriously talk about the acquisition of the Sorenson complex with them.

   By buying the Sorenson complex, the city could adequately address the parking and traffic circulation problem south of 175th. Haven't we noticed how nice it is to have some streets on the north side of 175th through the new shopping center that actually go somewhere?

   The city should use the Sorenson School for the city complex, extend 133rd, and use their three acres for parking for the city complex, Wilmot Park, Woodin Park, the current ball fields, and the proposed King County soccer fields. Notice I call it the city complex, because the Sorenson School can provide that, not just a city hall but a complex with ball fields, and teen/kids/senior activities with gym and swimming pool. The old Woodinville School can be turned over to the Historical Society for their purposes plus meeting rooms for community groups, etc.

   Come on, City Council! This is not just something that you might do; it is something that you must do. Let's try putting this up for a vote again. Have we forgotten how many times the vote to make Woodinville a city went down until finally it was approved and then only by about 70 votes, as I recall.

   We owe those 70 people our eternal gratitude because nothing has ever happened to this town that is better than incorporation. Surely those people will come forth again, because acquiring this property is the second most important thing to ever happen to this city.

   If we want an example of cost overruns to build a new city hall, we only need to look down the road to Bothell to see how the cost is escalating on their new police station.

Donna DeYoung, Woodinville