Tear-downs waste taxes

Our tear-down, throw-away society rears its ugly head in many ways. Here in Everett, that type of thinking taints two important taxpayer-funded projects: The expansion of the WSU-run University Center at Everett Community College and the building of a new Snohomish County courthouse.

Last month, the Snohomish County Council voted to build the courthouse on an adjacent parking lot between Oakes and Rockefeller avenues, reviving an option that had been tabled in September. Turns out this option, the most expensive one, means that two law firms will have to vacate their offices, so they can be torn down. (The other choice was the plaza in front of the existing 1960s-era courthouse, about a block west on the other side of Wall Street.)

At $150 million, the base price for the parking lot option is an estimated $30 million more than constructing a similar building next to the current courthouse, The Herald’s Noah Haglund reported. To pay for it, the council approved a property tax increase that will cost an average homeowner about $20 more per year.

Attorney David Jolly completed a painstaking, top-to-bottom remodel of his Rockefeller Avenue law offices last year. The other attorney, Royce Ferguson, moved into his office about 20 years ago and set about overhauling the one-story building to complement its surroundings, including bricks to match the church across the street.

The parking lot choice also means the county will have to rebuild Matthew Parsons Park, named in honor of a child homicide victim, on the corner of Wall Street and Rockefeller.

County Councilman Brian Sullivan said making sure the property owners get the best possible deal will be a top priority. Taxpayers will assume that giving the attorneys “the best deal possible” isn’t included in the $150 million base price.

Meanwhile, Washington State University regents authorized use of $10 million in state funds to design a 95,000-square foot structure to be built in the parking lot of the EvCC-owned College Plaza shopping center, The Herald’s Jerry Cornfield reported. The regents also approved using some of the state money to acquire nearby parcels for conversion into parking lots, in order to provide spaces displaced by the building. The targeted parcels include the Everett Trailer Court and the property with a Subway sandwich shop and a 7-Eleven store in the 800 block of Broadway Avenue.

The clean and busy Subway shop and 7-Eleven store are practically brand new. The College Plaza shopping center is vast. Is tearing down two viable businesses really the best use of taxpayer money? To build a parking lot? It’s not like Everett is overflowing with excess businesses that it can afford to destroy the ones it has. People don’t want their taxes used to tear down private businesses. “Best use” requires creativity, not more demolition.

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