May 13, 2002
Loss of school would be loss of community
In last week's Woodinville Weekly there was a letter advocating tearing down the Old Woodinville School for a new Civic Center. The rationale was it would be easier and cheaper. I maintain that tearing down the Old School would be far more expensive to this community, not only from a monetary sense, but also from a sense of community.
I believe "easier and cheaper" comes at the expense of creating a legacy for future generations - a sense of who we are and where we have come from as a community. How as a community do we know where we are going, if we do not know where we came from? The city of Woodinville not only is a young city, it is also a young community. Most of our buildings are new. In addition, the city has very few historic buildings. We are not talking about saving lots of buildings, we are talking about saving one building — one building that is the thread of this community for several generations. The Old Woodinville School is one real thread of continuity this community has. This continuity goes back to my 89-year-old aunt who was one of the first teachers at the school in the 1930s, to my aunts, uncles, cousins and parents, to the children as recent as the 1980s who attended school there. The school served as the first City Hall. This school ties many people in this community together. It is our common bond. Not many communities today are fortunate enough to have an asset such as the Old Woodinville School — one that can be the cornerstone of a Civic Center.
There has been a school at the site of the Old Woodinville School since the early days of Woodinville. One of the walls is from the earlier school and the remainder of the building was built as a WPA project during the great depression in the 1930s. From a historic perspective, the Old Woodinville School is one of the few WPA buildings in King County that has survived. It is one of the few buildings remaining in this area of this type of architecture.
One of the comments that keeps coming up in community visioning meetings is that people want to keep a small town atmosphere in Woodinville. Isn't a sense of community the cornerstone to a small town feel? To me, the Old Woodinville School is the visual symbol on the main street of what remains of a small town in a modern world. To tear down the building and only keep a faćade of the building is a fake sense of community.
To comment specifically on a few of letter writer's points. First, it is my understanding that the cost of rebuilding the Old School is about the same as tearing it down and building a new building. Granted, it would probably be easier and more efficient to just tear it down, but at what cost to our sense of community? It would be a shame if the historic buildings in Europe or Boston were torn down because it would be easier and more efficient. Wouldn't it be fun to go to Europe and just look at new buildings? That would be a wonderful learning experience.
Next, under the Civic Center Plan adopted by the City Council, I believe there is room for both a Civic Center and the Old Woodinville School on the property. Can't we have both? Why does the city of Woodinville need a new Civic Center immediately? The existing Sorenson School Complex behind the Old Woodinville School can be used as a Civic Center for a while. There is nothing wrong with the Civic Center developing over a period of time.
Next, the City did not need a special bond issue to build City Hall. They financed the facility with bonds that will be paid from existing revenues. I contend the reason the City was able to build such a nice new City Hall without a tax increase is that they spent eight years being housed the in Old Woodinville School. Granted, it was not as efficient and it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter, but with some short term sacrifices, our city was able to realize long term benefits. Maybe we should take this attitude with the Civic Center project. Can't we have a Civic Center that includes the Old Woodinville School as part of that complex? They don't need to be mutually exclusive.
Next, the skate board park. Between incorporation and 2001, the City spent approximately $6.1 million on streets, $10.7 million on parks, and $7.5 million on facilities. This includes, but is not limited to the land City Hall is built on; the new City Hall; Wilmot Park, buying the Sorenson School complex including the Old Woodinville School and the ball fields, a couple of parcels of land by Little Bear Creek as the cornerstone of their Little Bear Creek Park; and the land across from Woodinville High School. This was all done with General Fund dollars with no tax increases, for which I think the City Council should be commended. Not bad for a new city. It seems to me if the City had enough money to do all these projects, maybe the skateboard park was an issue of priorities.
Now that the City owns the Old Woodinville School, I think rebuilding it should be a priority with this community. We should be able to come together as a community through a combination of grants, contributions and the City of Woodinville to save the integral part of this community's heritage. How as a community do we know where we are going, if we do not know where we came from? So I too hope you would e-mail Mayor Scott Hageman and the City Council at firstname.lastname@example.org or write them at 13203 NE 175th Street Woodinville, WA 98072 and let them know you want to save the Old Woodinville School.
Lucy DeYoung, former Mayor and City Councilmember