7th Avenue site draws throngs of support

POULSBO — As a councilwoman, Mayor Kathryn Quade asked in August that the current municipal campus project be put on the backburner until after the November election.

After Thursday evening’s open house at the Creekside Center on 7th Avenue drew more than 75 people, it appears other council members are having second thoughts as well.

“I wish we could turn back the clock and ask people what they wanted,” said Councilwoman Connie Lord.

If the city had taken a poll and not received an adequate response, it would have been a sign of apathy, Lord said.

“This is probably the most important thing we’ve considered since I’ve been on council and we need to make sure we do the right thing,” she said.

Even though several people in the community have voiced their opinions on the municipal campus project, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will vote in a special election as proposed by Councilman Jim Henry, she said.

“It’s troubling for something to start out like this and I’m not pleased with it,” Lord said.

Bight of Poulsbo founder Bill Austin, who helped organize the open house, said he was pleased with the turnout.

“We did get a lot of signatures and no negative comments,” Austin said. “I’m hoping it does go to a vote, and I think the people have a right to decide.”

However, whether the issue goes to a vote or not, Austin said he will be fine with the outcome.

Local architect Larry Craig said the Creekside Center would make a great city hall.

“I really like this a lot better than the design I see from BLRB, and the city could move in here in about a year,” Craig said.

The building offers more natural light than the proposed design for the 10th Avenue site and also has more square footage, he said.

“I see a lot of potential here and think they could spend $2 to $4 million to remodel it and still save the difference,” Craig said.

Dan Ryan of Tim Ryan Construction said the structure is a government building and was built to government specifications — meaning it might not cost $100 a square foot to bring up to government use standards as he initially thought.

“It’s a government building and it was used by the government,” Ryan said as he toured the building.

If city officials were to select the building for the new city hall, some minor modifications like changing the color of the bathroom tiles or painting might be necessary, but more than likely nothing significant, he said.

“It’s not like they’re going to tear the plumbing out of the bathroom,” Ryan said.

Another local architect Malcolm Campbell presented a schematic design of how the building could be used for city hall and police department purposes.

“I think improvements would cost $25 per square foot and very few are needed,” Campbell said. “It’s just a few walls that need to be moved.”

Items such as a new roof for the building, which was built in 1994, could be included in the negotiations for the sale of the building, he said.

“It’s so flexible and it’s got so much extra space that it would house the police department as well, he said.

“It would require minimal renovations and it’s immediately available,” he said.

Developments around the 10th Avenue site have been wrought with geotechnical problems and Campbell said he’s not sure that those issues have been adequately addressed.

“Here everything is known and there are a lot of unknowns up there,” Campbell said.

As he fielded questions from the throngs of community members touring the building, Councilman Ed Stern said the discussion about the municipal campus site was a “great problem.”

“People care and it would be great if we could apply this to all the issues that were raised in public,” Stern said.

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