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Carnegie talks take next turn March 6

SNOHOMISH — For those who want to save the Carnegie Building’s 1968 annex the battle is becoming more urgent as renovation plans for the original 1910 structure solidify.
The City Council will vote whether to move forward with the next step for the site’s revitalization during its March 6 meeting at the Snohomish Senior Center.
New information they will contend with is that a requested $1.95 million grant from the state will not be forthcoming this year.
The senate is currently considering a reduced grant request of $500,000, according to city Project Manager Denise Johns. The current legislative session is scheduled to end March 8. “It’s not going away, our request for $1.95 million, it would be back” in a future legislative session Johns said.
Johns said the first project phase, including demolishing the annex, could proceed without the $1.95 million grant. The city plans to use $1.2 million in real estate excise taxes and $450,000 in utility revenues for the first project phase.
Momentum has been growing for the plan to remove the 1968 annex despite objection from the 105 Cedar Avenue Foundation. The foundation’s leader, Bill Betten, has spearheaded a pro-annex campaign with the slogan “the greenest building is the one that is already built.”
The foundation proposed to survey the public with a questionnaire mailed out with utility bills. It also requested an approximate $3,000 structural engineering study to assess how
much it would cost to restore the annex. Most recently,
Betten’s group has moved
to delay action on the Carnegie plans at the March 6 meeting.
The city declined all three requests.
A significant majority of public input to date has been to proceed with demolition based on public comments at council meetings and a show of support at a Feb. 11 meeting specifically about the Carnegie.
Betten said he wants residents to be informed about the price tag of the project and who will have to bear it. The separate nonprofit Carnegie Foundation was originally slated to fund the project privately, but current plans call for the city to fully fund the renovation. Betten has also said that a renovation of the 1968 annex
would add much needed meeting space for the city, which has council meetings that are sometimes standing room only.
While cost estimates have varied widely over the years, the current Carnegie plans include two independent phases: the first at a cost of $1.76 million, the second, $1.11 million.
The first phase would raze the 1968 annex, add
ADA accessibility, and a stair lift to the rear of the Carnegie, along with general refurbishment.
The second phase would involve additional refurbishment and add stairway
access to the building’s bottom floor. This lower level would contain an approximately 1,200 square foot meeting room and two ADA-compatible restrooms.
The argument over the annex’s fate has taken a personal turn at times.
After Councilwoman Lynn Schilaty said at the Jan. 16 City Council meeting that social media reports of Carnegie meetings being “stacked” were false, Councilman Larry Countryman said he believed they were stacked.
Opponents of the annex argue that the decade-plus planning process has continued long enough; renovation costs for the 1968 annex would be higher than 105 Cedar Avenue Foundation
has estimated; and that the annex is an eyesore.
The debate is likely to continue at the March 6 meeting. The council has scheduled an extra hour and a larger venue and anticipates a lengthy public comment period. During the meeting, the council is scheduled to vote on whether to approve 30 percent construction drawings and a construction cost estimate, based on the current plans which include demolishing the 1968 annex.
Those drawings would be displayed, and further action considered at a separate, future third meeting dedicated to the Carnegie project, tentatively scheduled for the spring.
The City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Snohomish Senior
Center, located at 506 Fourth Street.


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