By Theresa Goffredo
EVERETT — The Everett Historical Commission refused to give the city its blessing to bulldoze two 100-year-old buildings that stand in the way of a $75 million hockey arena and events center.
In a 9-1 vote near midnight Wednesday, commissioners refused to grant a waiver to the city after hearing from about 50 people during a more than four-hour public meeting.
The waiver would have symbolically cleared the way for the destruction of two Hewitt Avenue buildings, the Moffat Building and Stovies Stove Shop, both on the Everett Historic Register.
"I can’t imagine how an events facility, whether or not it’s a hockey rink or anything else, would have a place next to a historic corridor in that block of Hewitt," commission chairman David Blacker said Thursday.
"What we have to do is take a stand when called upon, and I think the city would not want less of us," Blacker said. "That’s what I have to believe we did."
Don Hale, acting executive director for the Everett Public Facilities District, the group charged with operating the proposed center once it’s built, said he respected the decision.
The decision not to grant the waiver is not binding. The city will consider the recommendation as early as Dec. 12. The council can either accept or deny the project or modify the recommendation, Hale said.
"The council obviously will look at the issue from a broader perspective," Hale said. "In much of the testimony against this location, people were saying that economics shouldn’t play a role. But it should play a role, and the council has to look at that broader role. The council has to look at public safety, and culture and entertainment, and the overall economic health of the community."
The events center, which would include professional hockey and a public ice rink, would be funded in part by a $25 million state sales tax rebate. Bonds would pay for the rest.
The facilities district plans to present a mitigation package to the city council Dec. 12. That package will include a study to see if the events center can be built while still saving part of the Moffat Building and also saving the Ancient Scottish Rite Temple, 2935 Oakes Ave., by building the center around it.
The facilities district is also offering the historical commission $125,000 to use for historic preservation, such as for a historic photomontage at the center.
Commissioner Ed Morrow cast the dissenting vote Wednesday.
"The past is important but the future is even more important to our youth," Morrow said.
"If we make it such a hard-ball thing for the two buildings, we risk not getting this project, which could bring income to the city for years to come, and residents aren’t paying a dime."
You can call Herald Writer Theresa Goffredo at 425-339-3097 or send e-mail to