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Council gives nod to museum plans

POULSBO — Plans for the Poulsbo Historical Society’s museum brought smiles to city council members’ faces Wednesday night, but a possible extension of its lease raised more than a few eyebrows.

After architect Wayne LaMont showed the council the building’s design, PHS vice president Bob Hawkinson discussed the society’s business plan before igniting the discussion.

“It’s probably a good time to mention the lease,” he said. “We have a 25-year lease and we have found through our investigation that 25 years isn’t long enough for us to go out and get grants.”

The society has had ongoing discussions with City Attorney Jim Haney about lengthening the lease, but has yet to reach an agreement, Hawkinson said.

“My feeling is our board would like something like a lease with a 30-year period and two 30-year extensions,” Hawkinson said. “If we can’t get a longer one, perhaps this is not the right thing to do.”

Councilwoman Kathryn Quade asked if a 30-year lease with two 30-year extensions would be enough to secure grants or if a 50-year lease with a 25-year extension would work.

“We’re pretty flexible,” Hawkinson replied. “I mentioned the 30-year lease because that’s what Bainbridge has.”

Finance Director Nanci Lien reminded the council that Haney felt comfortable with the 25-year lease and an automatic renewal for 25 years, which was essentially a 50-year lease.

“I’m concerned about the shortness of the 25-year lease not being long enough to get grants and funding,” Quade responded.

Mayor Donna Jean Bruce then asked Hawkinson about a previous discussion about a 50-year lease.

“I don’t recall that discussion,” Hawkinson replied, noting that the society would entertain any longer lease offered by the city.

After listening to the discussion, Councilman Mike Regis took Hawkinson to task over the extension of the lease.

“I think we need a little more than expert opinion,” Regis told Hawkinson, as he suggested grant denial predicated by an insufficient lease.

“A letter from a grant writer’s not enough,” Hawkinson responded. “I want to give you what you want.”

Regis reiterated his point that he wanted more than an opinion and would like to see a rejection letter.

Even so, Mayor Bruce suggested that Hawkinson and Haney could get together to work out the lease agreement.

“Maybe next time he comes over we could meet face-to-face,” Hawkinson replied.

At the end of the discussion, the council gave its unanimous approval to the society’s building design and business plan.

Instead of pursuing its earlier building plans, the society has attempted to maximize its space availability while minimizing its costs, Lamont said.

By using a pre-engineered metal building the society will able to achieve those goals and at the same time have a structure that represents the city’s Norwegian heritage, Lamont said.

“When I did some research into Norwegian architecture, there was no real Norwegian architecture,” he said. “There is dragon architecture and the building’s facade is based on the Frogner Hotel.”

The wood exterior would cover the building’s entrance on Jensen Way while the north side would be landscaped with trees and the south side would be hidden by a brick building. The rear of the building would have a similar facade as its front.

“We could do it for a little under $1.5 million and we’re expecting donations and volunteer labor to make it substantially less,” Hawkinson told the council.

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