Northwest NEWS

April 29, 2002

Editorial

Tear down old school for a new performing arts/civic center?

The old brick Woodinville School building located on 175th has a serious problem. The building used to be the City Hall of Woodinville. Recently the Woodinville City Council commissioned a seismic study to be done to determine the integrity of the structure of the building. The study came back negative.
   Staff building official Dean McKee reported this to the council in a March 18 council meeting that the old building has all of earmarks of being a dangerous building.
   The determination is that it is not safe to provide occupancy in the current condition of the building. The City is risking a major lawsuit by keeping employees in a building that they know is not structurally sound. A study has concurred that the stress of an earthquate as we had on Feb. 28, 2001, will be transferred to the next weakest spot, so that the effect can become cumulative and the building could not withstand the strain. There is a strong argument that the building could collapse.
   The cost of the type of seismic upgrade could cost our citizens in the neighborhood ot one-quarter of a million dollars. The building will also need to be made ADA compliant and brought up to fire and safety codes. This will cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
   Why would a city the size of Woodinville do this?
   It took almost four years to get enough money to buy land for a small skate board park; it took years and a special bond issue to build a decent City Hall.
   Woodinville needs a performing arts center. We need a community center first before we spend money on a building that does not fit our growing city's needs. Land in Woodinville is very expensive and there is not much available. The best thing we can do as a city is to tear down this old structure and replace it with a new Woodinville civic center.
   Everyone will benefit if our City Council would make this decision. Please attend the next council meeting on the first, second and third Mondays of the month at 7 p.m. or e-mail our new mayor, Scott Hageman at shageman@ci.woodinville.wa.us.
   Woodinville, we do not need years of discussions about what to do with an unsafe public building that will cost more money than Woodinville can afford to spend. We do need a Woodinville performing arts and civic center. To make this a win-win situation, may I suggest we incorporate the front of this building into a new structure that can fit all of our city's growing needs.
   Richard Duncalf, Woodinville