Snoqualmie to part with old library building

Councilman Charles Peterson was the lone dissenter in the Snoqualmie City Council's majority decision to surplus the former River Street library building.

The 6-1 vote on Monday, May 10, came two weeks after the council tabled talk of selling the building in its April 26 meeting. City Administrator Bob Larson briefed council members last Monday on fresh discussions with sales agents, which council members had requested prior to a decision.

Larson told the council that the sales value of the building has changed little from a 2006 value of $305,000. The building could be sold or leased as a commercial office space, perhaps with a few dedicated parking spaces thrown in.

Peterson had suggested that Snoqualmie take stock of the site as future expansion space for the city hall campus. He urged the council to consider spending down the city's roughly $3 million reserves in lieu of parting with the former library.

Peterson also challenged the idea of eliminating city hall parking.

"Why would we give up (spaces) when we have staff parking all over the streets now?" he asked.

Larson replied that parking has been adequate for the site. City staff park on surrounding streets and the nearby Snoqualmie Methodist Church lot to free up spaces at City Hall.

"It gets busy, but it's not overflowing," he said.

Mayor Matt Larson countered the idea of using reserves, saying that the city is facing infrastructure challenges ahead, such as needed road fixes. He referenced an earlier council commitment to sell surplus property to pay for the new City Hall.

"A few of us are asking that these commitments be followed through," Larson said.

"I prefer to lease that building for a few years and see what the market does," Peterson said. "I'm not convinced that selling that building is the right thing to do today. Nor do I think that $300,000 is going to build a street somewhere."

Councilwoman Kathi Prewitt, who had called for more sales details at a council meeting two weeks ago, was satisfied with the new information.

"I think the benefit of selling it for use of city hall or other projects outweighs that of keeping it," she said.

During a lengthy discussion prior to the vote, however, Prewitt and other council members asked for complete details on debt and financing for the new city hall. In that discussion, council members emphasized paying down the principal on the loan for the project.

The old library building, located at River Street and Silva Street, housed Snoqualmie's library until 2007, when King County Library moved to a new site on Snoqualmie Ridge. The city of Snoqualmie had bought out King County Library's share of the building.

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