Demolition time: Lake Stevens readies for new City Hall

LAKE STEVENS — City Hall is expected to be torn down in early 2017.

Plans for downtown are taking shape. They call for the removal of city buildings there and an expansion of North Cove Park that would open up views of the lake from Main Street and North Lakeshore Drive. Eventually, the goal is to have wider streets, off-street bicycle and pedestrian paths, a new shopping area and an event center.

In the next few months, workers are expected to demolish City Hall and an old house that makes up part of the permit center near North Cove. Once those are out of the way, a modular building can be brought in and connected to the remaining half of the permit center, interim city administrator Mary Swenson said. That would serve as a temporary City Hall until a new one is built. The city received about $300,000 from the state for demolition and planning.

“Because City Hall needs to be demolished and the house needs to be demolished, it’s kind of a jigsaw puzzle,” Swenson said. “We actually looked for lease space. There just isn’t any in Lake Stevens.”

Employees already are clearing out of some offices and moving to others in preparation for the tear-down. The plan is to have the temporary City Hall done by the end of June, Mayor John Spencer said.

It likely will be years before a permanent City Hall is constructed, Spencer said. The existing building has a host of problems, including lack of space, poor ventilation and mold. The City Council is on track to decide as soon as January if a new City Hall would be built in the old downtown, not far from its current location, or whether it would move to Chapel Hill, where a new police station and library are planned.

“If we move City Hall to the Chapel Hill site, we cannot leave the city in a situation where we’ve moved City Hall, the library and the community center and people feel like we’ve abandoned them in that downtown area,” Spencer said.

Some have worried about the fate of other city-owned buildings near North Cove, including the library, community center and museum. Those are not slated for demolition soon, Swenson said. However, the downtown subarea plans show that the park expansion would take over the land where those buildings currently sit.

Sno-Isle Libraries is working toward building a new library on Chapel Hill. Spencer said he hopes to work with the local historical society on plans for the museum.

There also is talk of trying to purchase some private land adjacent to North Cove Park. Last year, Williams Investments decided to wait until the downtown plan was finished before pursuing a new residential and retail building on that property. The developer’s proposal stirred controversy among locals, who said they would rather see the park protected. Draft plans for downtown suggest buying that property, but the city has yet to negotiate with the owner, planners said during a public meeting in November.

The downtown subarea plan should be made final by a council vote in spring 2017, Spencer said. More detailed plans for specific projects will need to be worked out from there.

People can get involved in the planning by joining a volunteer committee. Anyone with specific interests such as the museum, library, trails or community center would be a welcome addition, Spencer said. They can email community development director Russ Wright, rwright@lakestevenswa.gov, with a short description of their area of interest.

“This certainly has generated a lot of people thinking about what the future is going to be,” Spencer said. “I’m really glad that people are looking at the future rather than clinging to the status quo because our little community, it’s not little anymore.”

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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