Monday, April 17, 2017

Updated: Study Session on Community Centers

  l-r Councilmembers Hank Margeson, Angela Birney, Byron Shutz, Tanika Padhye, Hank Myers, David Carson
Credit, Bob Yoder

On March 13th, about five weeks before this session, LWSD Deputy Superintendent Fogard announced during a Board meeting the repurposing of the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center will be completed by the Fall of 2019.  Video of the school board meeting is HERE.

Jane Wither, of the One Redmond Foundation & Chair of the Arts and Culture Commission along with Tom Sanko the Chair of Parks Commission pretty much ran the community center study session.  They devoted weeks and months, even years on this project. (Their backs are facing the camera.) Both Jane and Tom spurred Council to finally make a decision to move forward.  President Margeson explained it was time for Council to lead. They approved staff's vague recommendations, as follows:  

  • Urgency: Within five years, provide community center(s) to meet Redmond’s most urgent needs  (So by 2022 the aquatic center will actually be built?  That sounds like a tall order.) 
  • Spaces: Meet Redmond’s needs for priority spaces, including:
    • Aquatics and fitness
    • Flexible spaces for cultural arts and events
    • Flexible community spaces for meetings, classes, and gatherings
  • Partnerships: Explore a variety of partnership models
  • Location: Locate future community center(s) in Downtown and the Marymoor subarea of Southeast Redmond
  • Funding: Develop a funding package that leverages funding from a variety of sources, such as city funds, grants, private contributions, partnerships, and a possible property tax increase
  • Community Engagement: Continue strong communications about progress and engage the community in interim decisions throughout the process 
  • Many key stakeholders were at the session. Joe Townsend, Pres. of RHS is sitting in the front row.  Siri Bleisner, LWSD Board member attended and I got to sit next to her! Pat Vache' a member of the One Redmond Foundation was sitting with retired Councilman Arnie Tomac --both stateholders.) 
View the documents below for more information: 
One Redmond Foundation President & Council VP John Stilin was absent from the session. In my opinion, besides being the alpha councilmember,  his participation during the session would represent an over reliance on the Foundation.  Jane Wither did just fine.   

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The decision to shut down the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center and turn it into a big preschool was a small part of the April 26, 2016 LWSD bond measure. Voters didn't have the option to pick and choose the programs that they liked or didn't like. Voters who wanted new schools in Redmond had to take the whole bond measure. For the school district to say that we supported the closing of the ORSCC by approving the bond measure is simply not true.

Does anyone believe that using $8,000,000 to turn the ORSCC into a preschool is the *BEST* use of taxpayer money???? Do we really believe that this is the only option for providing preschool space in the ENTIRE district? Couldn't anyone think of another option besides converting a 95-year-old building? It's hard to believe that this is the only solution that the district could come up with. (Maybe the district needs to hire a new facilities planner who is smarter and more creative.)

The new Redmond Elementary property is on 13 acres and more than half of the land is vacant - so why doesn't the district build a new preschool facility on the north side of the Redmond El lot? How much would a brand new preschool building cost? Did the district even bother to do a cost-comparison?

The Old Redmond Schoolhouse is a historic landmark. It is owned by the Lake Washington School District but it was bought and paid for with taxpayer money. It is our community center and if the school district insists that it must shut the ORSCC down then we deserve to see the cost comparisons and planning documents that were created by the district in its decision-making process. They should prove to us that spending $8,000,000 is the most cost-efficient and cost-effective plan. They should prove that they know how to effectively and efficiently spend our money.

Or maybe the school district and the city got together and decided that if the ORSCC were shut down then residents would be compelled to vote for and fund a new community center. If the actual cost-comparison studies exist for the preschool conversion, the school district should put the information up on its website so we can see that our money is being well spent. (If such information exists.)

There is another irony here -- the district has systematically torn down more than twenty 40-year-old schools as part of its "modernization" campaign, claiming that it is more cost-effective to tear down and rebuild than to remodel. And yet, the district is remodeling a 95-year-old building. Why don't they just tear down the ORSCC too? It's gotta be cheaper than remodeling...