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Guest opinion: Making a case for the Carnegie annex

I am the founder and registered agent of the newly formed “105 Cedar Avenue Foundation” group.
Our goal is to preserve and protect all the historic early 20th and mid-20th Century properties located at 105 Cedar Ave. in Snohomish, owned by all the citizens of Snohomish.
Through our efforts, both the 1910 and 1968 buildings, the 600-year-old Douglas Fir stump, the soon-to-be-returned 1961 American Legion War Memorial statue, and all trees, will soon be registered and protected by the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation in Olympia. This listing will protect all of the properties from removal, demolition or major alteration or renovation, such as Mr. Blake’s “scissor jack” promenade of three criss-cross ramps for “children and the disabled.” I’m sure children would love to play and skateboard on the ramps, but what about a legless vet in a wheelchair trying to maneuver up the “scissor jack” ramps?
There is close to 5,300 square feet of ground level ADA accessible space in the 1968 annex that can be utilized for community events, town hall meetings, city council meetings, with a legal maximum person count occupant load, (per Snohomish
City Building/Fire Official) under the International Building Code, of 187 persons seated and 374 standing. The 1968 annex is a example of efficient, strong, utilitarian mid 20th long-time Century architecture  by a noted local Everett Architectural firm Botesch, Nash & Associates. Steel framing reflected the public’s desire for strong, yet practical and economical structures for the public sector.
In his piece May 3rd in the Tribune, Mr. Blake correctly calls out the council for “backward thinking” in spending $70,000  alone for a “chairlift for stairs in the 1910 building.” ($230,000 overall spending in 2017 and doesn’t even include a second egress door or a fire escape.  See March 21st council meeting minutes.)
The last city-paid master plan of 2011, costing $35,000, showed an ambitious $4 million restoration project. It was my understanding the private Snohomish Carnegie Foundation was to raise all
the money through donations, not taxpayer money.
After filing a public records request the city reports there is no record of any lease or partnership agreement between the city and the Snohomish Carnegie Foundation outlining the use, purpose, and control of the 105 Cedar Avenue properties.
I feel it is time for a fresh look on how the 105 Cedar Avenue property can truly provide future generations with over 10,000 square feet of free public library (1906 Deed) and historical re-
search and museum space.
The taxpayer’s grants in 2013 did pay for a new Spanish tile roof and a seismic retrofit of the 1910 building, costing nearly $1 million.
It is our Foundation’s mission to assure all the properties at 105 Cedar Avenue are protected and maintained for many more generations to come.

Bill Betten is a lifelong resident of Snohomish, a local amateur historian, and community activist and organizer.

The front of a dedication pamphlet featuring the 1968 annex.


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