Edmonds City Council to consider next steps after North Sound Church high bidder for conference center

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The North Sound Church is located across the street from the Edmonds Conference Center.
The North Sound Church is located across the street from the Edmonds Conference Center.

Based on a report that Edmonds’ North Sound Church has made a $2.4 million offer to the State of Washington for the Edmonds Conference Center, the Edmonds City Council voted 4-2 Tuesday night to continue discussing whether to increase its $300,000 bid for the property at 4th and Bell to $1 million or more.

City Attorney Jeff Taraday said the State Department of Enterprise Services informed the city via email of the church’s high bid of $2.4 million, which also included an escalator clause to $2.8 million to lock in its offer for the 14,375-square-foot building. The Department of Enterprise Services is handling the sale of the former Edmonds Community College property, which the state declared surplus.

The church, which is located across the street from the conference center, has been renting the building for Sunday services for the past several years. North Sound Pastor Barry Crane said in October 2014 that the church intended to submit an offer on the property.

When the Edmonds City Council agreed June 10 to submit a $300,000 bid for the conference center, it was with the intent of eventually tearing the building down for an as-yet-undecided purpose. The wood-framed, stucco-clad building, built in 1997, has suffered water leaks and related damage that a consultant estimated would cost more than $1 million to repair — although there could be additional structural damage that is not readily apparent.

However, Councilmember Joan Bloom, who has been a strong advocate of purchasing the building, said she was told by state officials that “the repairs are much lower than what were estimated.” Bloom also reiterated her concerns that the city has not had a public process — such as a town hall meeting or public hearing — to involve citizens in discussing possible future uses of the property.

“We haven’t had any input from citizens as to what this property could be used for, how we might use it for a public use,” Bloom said. “We based our bid on information that is more than likely inaccurate, and I think that we owe it to the public to increase our bid to $1 million, to at least extend it enough for them [the state] to consider us as a viable bid and give the public an opportunity to comment on this.”

Bloom also noted she has “serious concerns” about a church buying the property. “Churches do not pay taxes,” she said. “There will be no economic benefit that I can see from having a church take over that property.”

Since the state has given the city until July 15 to decide whether it wants to up its bid for the property, Councilmember Lora Petso made a motion to continue discussion of the idea until the council’s July 14 meeting.

In other action, the council:

– voted 4-2 to maintain the council’s study session format, which was the topic of extensive debate at the council’s June 23 meeting. However, several adjustments — many of which were suggested by citizen Bruce Witenberg during the public comment period– will be considered, including moving the councilmembers back onto the dais with improved visibility and microphone quality.

– continued to discuss but didn’t take action on the city’s proposed Six-Year Transportation Improvement Plan. This agenda item was the subject of numerous questions from councilmembers to staff, including several exchanges about what’s next for the current temporary configuration and striping along Sunset Avenue. Public Works Director Phil Williams noted that he expects to provide the council with an evaluation of the year-long project by early fall, so councilmembers can decide next steps.

— again reviewed the city’s Draft 2015 Comprehensive Plan Update with revisions.

—  held a closed record review and unanimously approved a variance for the 9/11 Memorial to be built at 6th Avenue and Sprague Street. The memorial, to be located next to the downtown Edmonds Fire Station, will honor both first responders and citizens who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Firefighter Dave “Bronco” Erickson, who is overseeing the project, said he’s hopeful that construction on the memorial will begin later this year.

— appointed three citizens to fill vacancies on the Edmonds Citizens’ Tree Board: Barbara Chase, Crane Stavig and Albert Marshall.

In addition, during the council comment period, Councilmember Bloom noted that she has made a formal request for the council to discuss at a future meeting the crumb rubber playfields currently being installed in Edmonds. The artificial turf fields have raised concerns among some due to potential health and environmental impacts.

Finally, following an executive session at the end of Tuesday’s meeting, the council voted unanimously to settle claims brought by Edmonds resident Finis Tupper under the Public Records Act, and agreed to pay Tupper $50,269.25. City Attorney Taraday said he would provide exact language regarding the settlement after it was officially drafted.

33 COMMENTS

  1. I hope the city goes ahead and makes a higher offer on the conference center. With public input I beleive there are many possibilities with this land and building and this would be an asset to our town. I note Ms. Blooms comment about churches not paying taxes and I must agree this appears to be no benefit to our city. What would be a benefit to our city would be to be able to rent it out for many different things possibly. Also, it is hard to beleive that this building has a million dollars of repairs needed. …..This building is not even that old.

    Thank you to our City Council for visiting the issue of the crumb rubber fields which the EPA says (2015) needs more studies regarding health risks at this time. Not sure why the school board would move forward ANYWAY ….and again, doesnt “verdant”mean green…..with all due respect to VerdantHealth, theres an irony if Ive ever seen one. ………..regarding this possible health risk……speaking of lawsuits as a possibility against our city.

  2. Thanks to the Council for reconsidering the purchase of the Conference Center. One day this will be a very important piece of land and the building, if well managed, will be a vital part of our community and bring in revenue. Why do City governments have difficulty in seeing a viable Conference Center? mainly because they are great planners and of public funds but not entrepreneurs. So plan from the beginning that the Conference Center will be managed by a hired company and make them responsible for a profitable building. The Edmonds Community College did not concentrate on profits therefore showing a false picture of the potential of the building: hopefully this is apparent and our Council can be more farsighted.

  3. If there are 38 (or so) tax free religious institutions in Edmonds it is because the citizens of Edmonds attend and support them. God bless those institutions and their faithful.
    The value of those institutions to Edmonds and its citizens goes far beyond their tax free status.
    Their benefits to the community include:
    Spiritual guidence, participation and love.
    Community involvement on many levels,
    Counceling, bereavement and support,
    Many tpes of assistance to those in need,
    Personal and spiritual growth,
    Education,
    A place to belong,.engage, share and thrive.

    North Sound Church embodies all of these qualities and much more. We are blessed to have them in our community. North Sound Church already uses the conference center for some of their services. North Sound Church is right across the street from the conference center and (by the way) they have the highest bid.
    I would love to see the community minded, trend setting North Sound Church awarded the title to the conference center.
    Pat McKee

  4. I love the idea of North Sound owning the property and I do not attend there…just to clarify. Perhaps there will not be a direct or immediate financial gain, but north sound is a church body fully engaged in the life of the community in edmonds. They participate in every major event with volunteers and supplies or whatever is needed. I believe they will use this building to support the community in bigger and better ways than they already do now.
    As for the matter of the fields, the whole issue is deeply concerning for many reasons. I love the comment about the irony of Verdant Health putting so much money into a toxic rubber tire product. The other thing that concerns me as a parent of edmonds heights students is the increased traffic. Parking is already an issue on a regular school day. With fte or full time enrollment of more than 400 students, the current parking lot is very full every day. Traffic in and out of the campus is ridiculous because we have ONE road in and out of the property. The construction plan calls for walking trails and sports fields. Adding additional activities to a campus already bursting at the seams could prove disastrous.

  5. I agree with Pat McKee. In addition, raising the bid to 1 million seems useless when North Sound already has an offer on the table for $2.4 mil with an escalator clause. No preference should be given to the city with such a low bid.

  6. I hope the City stops bidding and moves on. That money could be spent for much-needed repairs to streets and sidewalks, etc.
    Many citizens and the City have a “wish list”, but the “must do” list is much larger.

    • Dorothy, you’ve perfectly summed up the situation. Councilmembers Johnson and Nelson did not state why they joined Councilmembers Bloom and Petso in voting to continue to waste everybody’s time on this no-brainer. Now they’ll talk about it one more time next week.

      And perhaps there are some who do not know that there are currently no property taxes being paid on the conference center. So nothing changes in that regard if it is purchased by the church.

  7. Regarding the large numbers of churches ( and only a tally of the Christian churches) in our community, along the lines of government tax exempt status, shouldnt churches have to pay property taxes just like the rest of us. Seeing how they are making money to have enough extra revenue to make a 2.5 million dollar offer on this property and possibly more selling at a profit down the road. Isnt not taxing churches discriminatory against other institutions, businesses or individuals…..Are we to assume that all of these churches SERVE ALL citizens the same if they are receiving local and/or federal dollars.

    I say 38 (and we know there are a few more) churches in this small town receiving exemptions must be a very large amount of tax releif for those people.

    And after all, didnt somebody recently say, “Every foot is money” . Again, I have to say wow!

  8. I stand by my points (as stated above) regardless of religious beliefs or number of institutions be it 38 or 538.
    As Ron stated there would not be a change in tax status in regards to the conference center.
    I want North Sound Church to get the building

  9. The church isn’t paying taxes? Screw ’em! Ms Bloom, buy it. 2.8 million, cash on the nail! I love property taxes.

  10. Edmonds wants to up its bid for said property to $1 million yet there is already a bid for $2.4 million. Why would Edmonds think the state would consider their bid when the current offer far succeeds this? Any reasonable seller would laugh at Edmonds’ offer.

    It was pointed out in previous articles that estimated costs for repairs would run $1,400,000. Now the article states only $1,000,000. Do we now have new experts who have assessed the repair costs.

    Do we need another park in close proximity to 2 others near by or an eyesore parking garage? I personally think not especially since the city cannot afford it.

  11. Thanks to the council for listening and allowing the space for others to be heard. As a parent of 5 children and 5 grandchildren I was very concerned when I just recently learned about this crumb rubber garbage that has these horrible toxic crumbs that get ingested and stick to clothing. I will not allow my children or grandchildren to play on this stuff. And when I see others on it I will question them why they allow their children to be on it. I will ask them if they are not aware of all the published info out there on toxic crumb rubber. I have considered changing our learning environment as I am concerned this stuff will be in the air and on the nearby school grounds where we spend a lot of time. I want to do all I can to do the best for our children. Toxic crumb rubber is not the best and I am not interested in playing roulette with any child’s well being.

  12. How ’bout a citizens committee or group getting together and bringing in some creative ideas and concidering a joint venture with the purchase of this great building. Money could be made here with taxes for the city and lots of ideas for its use, which would also bring revenue………I envision perhaps a large, very active, out there regional art center. Perhaps the Artist Connect building at the now and occasionally stinky waste plant could be sold……..more property taxes there by whoever buys it also and those groups (theatre and art) occupying that building (AC Artworks ) could have a new space right in the middle of our town with a more visual presence. A developer could purchase the AC Artworks building across from the waste plant property, which recently was an idea anyway close by regarding building at Harbor Square. This also would help save our marsh from more destruction with more development right there.

    I also believe this would be a great space for units of AFFORDABLE housing (the real kind of affordable…..not 5 people in small space) , even a modern boarding house that would help do away with some segregated housing areas Edmonds has now…….bringing people of different means together makes for a more vibrant and active community.

    I call on all to boycott those crumb rubber areas until more science by our EPA is documented and I hope our birds and wildlife, water environment and us are safe in the meantime. I recently was working with a 1946 glass block window panel section from an old house torn down at Greenlake and low and behold, each panel still had, totally intact, black asbestos calking…….Some toxic things that maybe shoudnt have been allowed in the first place can have a very long life span……100 years is certainly a possibility, so why chance it

  13. I find it interesting that there has been no comment about the continued legal settlements, most recently documented above “Finally, following an executive session at the end of Tuesday’s meeting, the council voted unanimously to settle claims brought by Edmonds resident Finis Tupper under the Public Records Act, and agreed to pay Tupper $50,269.25. City Attorney Taraday said he would provide exact language regarding the settlement after it was officially drafted.” Are the citizens of Edmonds so used to this that there is no outrage? And this follows a $1,000,000 judgement for legal fees upon a $1,000,000 judgement. Wow, that is very close to what the building would cost if the decision was made to purchase. Or maybe go towards repairing the streets? Where is the call for a explanation from the Mayor?

  14. Is nobody else concerned that our city council is working so hard to take revenue from our local community college? With the original offer of $300,000 they undercut the posted market value by 2 million dollars. Now that they know there is an offer on the table for 2.4 million they are wanting the state to sell it to them for 1 mil. It seems to me that this would effectively steal a million dollars from our local community college!
    Also for all those who keep discussing the various uses for the building this has already been discussed in detail and the best use the council could come up with for the building was to tear it down. The building has massive water intrusion issues and an estimated one million dollars in damage.

  15. The city would not collect taxes on itself if they owned the conference center property or from any other tax exempt owner. Conference centers typically loose money and this one is no exception according to the college records of $52,000 average loss per year. The odds of the city turning that around appear minimal at best. As the mayor stated, the city does not have the funds, staff or plan for the property. The city would have to come up with over 3 million dollars to purchase the site, demo the building and create a parking lot as some have considered.The city already has more pressing needs to attend to with their limited funds.

  16. Ryan Brotherton, Pastor: Holy Trinity Edmonds
    http://www.c4so.org/ministry-spotlight-kingdom-collaborators/

    I suspect the water leaks (those intrusions) being repaired would not amount to a million dollars on this newer aged building.

    My question is do we want a huge mega church at the very center of our city? …..as this appears to be a new entity joining North Sound Church …..who knows what this could mean, this combination.

    Not sure why a Pastor would be making a reference to our city wanting to “steal” something from someone in regards to our City Council and city considering a reveue generating issue in debating whether to make an offer……I think “steal” is harsh coming from a Pastor, in my opinion

    • Yes steal is a harsh word perhaps too harsh, but it does concern me that there is seemingly no regard for the loss the college would endure if the city was to purchase this building significantly under the market value. I am a pastor, also a life long resident of Edmonds, born and raised. A former local small business owner who is also actively involved in this community that I love.
      Does keeping money (1.4 million) from our local community college have a negative affect on our community? I think it does but I would appreciate hearing how it might not be an issue?

      • The city attorney informed councilmembers at this week’s council meeting that he learned from the State that the property will be sold to the highest bidder.

  17. The College will not be getting the funds Washington State will, so no entity will be taking money from the College.
    Also the College never tried to make a profit, they employed College Managers with little expertise to market the Conference Center. If the City hired the right Marketing Company with a directive to make a profit, then I am sure that would happen

    • I suspect that the responsible people at the College did an analysis that revealed that a professional manager is not likely to generate sufficient incremental business to cover that manager’s added costs.

      Of course this is all academic, because the city does not have $2.8 million of discretionary funds to buy the place.

  18. I believe it was Rick Warren who preached at the consecration service of Todd Hunter, bishop. I believe I remember following some of Rick Warren’s (Rick Warren gave a sermon at the Obama inauguration, which surprised many) support of anti gay people activists, including of Archibishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria who endorsed legislation that would ban basic civil rights for gay and lesbian Nigerians, which was a clear breach under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. The legislation would have been similar to legislation from 1930s Third Reich Germany with Hitler, anti gay, anti civil rights.

    The International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, which the United States supports with others. .

    I lived in the Wedgwood neighborhood of Seattle when Mars church came to the neighborhood and changed it in my opinion. I believe it has since been disbanded (the church, not the neighborhood)……could be wrong about that but do know there were issues with its leader.

    I believe the State of Washington owns the property.

  19. “Sometimes art is born of repression, but more often it flourishes alongside true freedom – the type of liberty that appreciates diversity and nurtures unbridled expression”
    Anthony Fucillo

    Mr. Fuccillo knows a thing or two as he is the Director of Tourism for Provincetown, the OLDEST continuous Art Conony in the United States……..and we could learn a thing or two from this beach colony regarding generating REVENUE for our town. We should be so lucky to have the $$$$$ Provincetown has.

    Diversity

    Oh yeah and not having acres and acres of land in this town tax free……..Easy to see how much property we are talking about in Edmonds with just a small amount of research……No wonder there is not enough to even pay for sidewalks and street repair!……basic foundation items for any city.

    All relevant including the diversity part.

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