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New Carnegie plans have lower cost figures

SNOHOMISH — After more than a decade of planning and sometimes drastic plan revisions, the city seems readier than ever to proceed with the demolition of the Carnegie Building’s 1968 annex and the restoration of the original 1910 structure.
“We’re midstream” or “like a sled moving downhill, we have a lot of momentum,” said Mayor John Kartak. “We can’t go back to the top of the hill and start again.”
The city revealed the latest plan through architectural drawings by ARC Architects at a standing room-only meeting of more than 100 interested people at the Snohomish Aquatic Center on Jan 11.
The plan would raze the 1968 annex, reestablish the Carnegie’s original appearance while adding ADA accessibility and restrooms within the historical atmosphere and footprint of the original 1910 main room. It would also add a stair lift to the rear of the building, as well as preserve the property’s trees and the existing stump display. An aim would be a New England town common feeling, according to presenting architect Stan Lokting.
Based on a city allotted budget of $1.65 million, architects created the $1.76 million rough plan with an option for a second phase of construction which could
be completed subsequently to phase one for $1.11 million, or simultaneously to phase one at a smaller figure.
Conducted separately, the plans would cost an estimated $2.87 million but costs could drop if completed simultaneously, because doing so would eliminate some process redundancies and administrative costs.
The newly introduced plan supplants the more elaborate $5.1 million plan from 2011.
The second phase would include adding a stairway which would provide access to the building’s bottom floor. This lower level would contain an approximately 1,200 square foot meeting space that could be subdivided into two rooms using folding doors, and it would also contain two ADA-compatible restrooms plus the building’s mechanical, electrical and janitorial hub. The second phase, for $1.1 million, also includes refurbished windows, some new stucco and a new, windowed storefront. The $1.65 million budget would be funded by $1.2 million in real estate excise taxes collected when homes are sold and $450,000 in utility revenues.
Additional funding restricted to capital improvement projects may come from a requested $1.95 million state grant the city hopes to get.
The plan was widely approved by a majority of the audience based on thunderous applause, hoots and hollers and a show of hands at various points during the two-hour meeting.
A vocal but small contingent of opponents from the 105 Cedar Avenue Foundation maintained that it was a waste of taxpayer money and poor stewardship of city resources to tear down a building which they argued could be made functional for a preliminary rough estimate of $50 per square foot.
While the majority of the meeting was spent on the phase one and two architect renderings and audience questions, three speakers were each allotted 15 minutes to persuade the audience to support their plans.
The 105 Cedar Avenue Foundation’s Bill Betten spoke first outlining a plan to bring both buildings to usable condition, providing approximately 9,000 square feet of accessible community space for an estimated cost of approximately $450,000. Group members have raised concerns to how the Carnegie improvements were originally envisioned as funded by private donations but paying for the work has now become a responsibility of the city.
The foundation requested two actions: that the city mail a one page survey to residents enclosed in their utility bills to garner more feedback, and that it spend an estimated $2,500 to $3,500 to conduct a structural engineering study which would assess the price to preserve the annex.
The crowded conditions of the meeting underscored the group’s arguments for revitalizing the annex’s meeting spaces.
Neither suggestion received widespread support and the City Council has no current plan to implement them.
The second presenter was Cathy Reines of the Carnegie Foundation, which supports the city plan to restore the original 1910 library building and create a veteran’s memorial park. Reines argued that it was not economically feasible to save the annex nor was it in keeping with the community’s character or values.
The foundation’s followers sported large “I support the Carnegie and Park” buttons, and some audience members wore large orange “I support Carnegie restoration Veteran’s Memorial Park” stickers. Based on those badges and audience response during the meeting, more than 90 percent of the crowd supported the ARC presented plan.
The third presenter, a late addition, was Warner Blake who argued for creating an “interactive sculpture” of three ramps to provide site accessibility without the need for a lift.
According to City Councilman Jason Sanders, a start date for any work at the Cedar Avenue site depends on two factors: the outcome of the third and final community meeting where ARC will provide more complete drawings, and whether the state comes through with the proposed $1.95 million grant.
Councilwoman Karen Guzak said she expected the news about the state grant to arrive within the next 60 days based on the recent start of the current legislative session. Once those two pieces are in place, council could vote quickly to proceed with the 1968 annex demolition. All seven councilmembers attended the meeting.
The final community meeting is tentatively scheduled for this spring.


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