BRIER — Many agree that the new Brier City Hall will make the city more efficient. Whether the building was built to code, however, still isn’t clear.
Ed Walker, a longtime active Brier resident with background in the construction industry, said Brier Mayor Gary Starks, “cut important code requirements for the very deep foundation and footing drains, which relieve the hydrostatic pressure that builds up on the basement walls, which could crack the walls.”
Walker also said a required stormwater holding tank (detention vault) wasn’t built. “To achieve this, (Starks) concealed new city hall records and published a phony SEPA report,” Walker said.
In the meantime, Ray Kendall, the city’s new building inspector, resigned just before the City Hall grand opening on April 30. According to Walker, Kendall quit “to avoid pressure of signing off on projects that do not meet code such as the new City Hall.”
Kendall wasn’t available for comment.
Kendall is reported to be the third building inspector, and 11th person overall, to quit or be fired from the city since Starks was appointed mayor by the City Council in October 2003, after former Mayor Wayne Kaske resigned. The mayor’s position is on this fall’s ballot and Starks would need to be elected to continue as mayor.
When contacted, Starks refused to comment about the alleged code infractions or why Kendall left his job with the city.
Brier City Council member Bob Colinas said he isn’t aware of any codes not being met for City Hall. Colinas said he and other council members are concerned and will investigate.
Colinas said he does believe there was a cost overrun of about $215,000, bringing the estimated total cost to about $2.5 million.
Because Starks hasn’t supplied the city council with updated information, they aren’t clear on how much city hall really ended up costing, Colinas said.
“Everytime Mayor Starks suggests a budget revision will be necessary, I have asked him for an accounting of the project. To date, I have not received one,” Colinas said. “I also asked staff (May 9) for any information related to the actual budget for the project. I was told they did not have time to pull that information together.
The cost has always been the contentious issue with the Brier City Council. Two years ago, the council turned down the idea of a new city hall after opening bids.
In 2004, before construction, Starks told the Enterprise that officials changed some of the specifications to lower the price and put it out to bid again. While the $2.25 million estimated cost wasn’t much less, the council decided to go for it, Starks said at the time.
The new city hall, built on the site of the previous building at 2901 228th St. SW, is about 14,200 square feet on a basement and ground level floor.
The now-18 person city staff has gone from working in a small cinder-block building to two trailers to a new facility about twice the size of the previous space.
The building combines all three Brier city departments: administration, community development and the police department with a gym and locker room for the officers, Starks has said. For more information, call 425-775-5440.