Tulalips open new building to bring services under one roof

TULALIP — The smell of fresh wood had not yet cleared from the new Tulalip Administration Building when hundreds of community members filled its spacious hallways Saturday afternoon.

Led by employees of the Tulalip tribal government, members toured the light-filled offices and conference rooms as part of the grand opening ceremony of the new $28 million building.

The three-story building measures 75,000 square feet and is made of cedar and glass. It now houses about 200 employees whose offices were previously scattered all over Tulalip Indian Reservation. It includes environmentally friendly features such as skylights and thermal walls.

RoseAnn Green, adult education coordinator, led a group of visitors through the chambers on the top floor and past the cozy waiting area. The group lingered by the glass wall to admire the panoramic view.

Tulalip Tribes Chairman Mel Sheldon chatted with the visitors as they took a peek in the chairman’s office and conference rooms. Many were excited about the chance to take a look, as the third floor is typically off-limits to visitors.

Betty Smith and her granddaughters Kerri, 17, and Rosie Deen, 19, were grateful for the opportunity to tour the top floor.

“The best thing is having everything in one place,” Smith said. “It’s more efficient and better for the workers.”

The building’s Lushootseed name means “a place where people can get training in both spiritual and practical matters.”

Displays of Tulalip crafts and framed portraits of the tribe’s elders adorn the walls there.

The tribal government is expected to save about $1 million every year by housing more than two dozen departments under one roof.

“It helps tribal members to not have to go all over the reservation to get services,” Tulalip Tribes General Manager Shelly Lacy said.

Scores of workers already moved into their new offices on Sept. 14, she said. About 60 other buildings that used to house them are being closed now.

The move also will save most workers valuable time. Green said she now saves about two hours she used to spend each day driving to other departments.

Green had reservations at first about trading her private office for a cubicle, but the payoff is well worth it: In the new building, people she has to deal with on a daily basis are a few steps away.

“Its wonderful being under the same roof as other departments,” she said.

A convenient, one-stop customer service center is on the first floor. Visitors can ask one of the representatives, using computers equipped with special software, to pull up the needed form or to help fill out an application, said Rebecca Hunter, customer service coordinator.

Outside, families enjoyed lunch and activities for kids. Jessica Hrdlicka took a break while her son played on the bouncy house. She saw Saturday’s celebration as another thing for her young children to remember when they grow up.

“It’s good to live somewhere where everyone knows each other and people get together as a community,” she said.

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452, kyefimova@heraldnet.com.

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