By Oscar Halpert Herald Writer
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — On and off over the course of four decades, Will Van Ry shared a 15-foot long by 15-foot wide basement office with several other employees.
This week, his former City Hall office inside the city’s municipal campus at 23204 58th Avenue W. is being torn down, its best years well behind it.
The 49-year-old City Hall building, which city staff abandoned in July 2009 for a temporary site on 219th Street SW, was beset by problems for years.
The roof leaked, heating, ventilation and cooling were poor and the building did not meet earthquake safety standards.
Several studies since the late 1980s recommended tearing down the building. Then, in July 2008, Council Chambers collapsed early in the morning, injuring no one. The collapse led City Manager John Caulfield to search for a temporary site.
“In the summer, someone would come in from public works and open up all the windows and use box fans to try to suck all the hot air out before people came to work,” said Van Ry, the city’s engineering services director.
Until the early 1970s, all city services were housed at the site. The city library was the first to move out in the early 1970s. The police department followed in 1991 and the fire department in 2005, when Snohomish County Fire District 1 took over the city’s fire service and firefighters moved into the adjacent Fire Station 19.
Building official Lance Kinnamon said he’d long suspected the building had major structural problems but it wasn’t until work crews with KD &S Environmental of Montesano began tearing it down last week that he realized just how unsafe it was.
“I was very surprised by how thin the roof was,” he said. “When the track hoe grabbed it with a bucket, the ceiling came down in big old clumps.”
Van Ry said he has good memories of the people he worked with over the years.
“It was kind of like one of those cars you keep driving until it dies,” he said.
Oscar Halpert: 425-339-3429, firstname.lastname@example.org.