Letter to the Editor: Museum is in a fight for its life

Monday, July 19, 2010

To the Editor:

The Shoreline Historical Museum has done a great job of educating our children and the public about the history of the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park and North Seattle area, but it is once again in a fight for its life.

The Shoreline School District (SSD) wants to rebuild a shiny new Shorewood High School next door and after all is said and done, plans include the removal of the museum. As members of Golden Wheels Fraternity Vintage Racers, my friend and I have a strong involvement:
  • Memorabilia such as racing films, scrapbooks and photo albums are archived there.
  • We hold our annual static vintage car show there.
  • Two of our members are long time active members of the Museum, and
  • We participate in the production of the Museum's vintage car show at the annual Celebrate Shoreline event in August.
Of course it impacts many other organizations and individuals, as well as the community at large.

The pending possibility of the demise of the Museum is offensive on many levels. The SSD has shown extreme lack of respect for process, for the heritage of the area, for the functions of the Museum, and for the public who is paying for this fiasco.

I urge everyone to get informed on this issue. The issue is to save a precious cultural landmark at its current location and to incorporate it into plans for the Town Center and future economic development. Doing so would prevent certain damage to the 100 year old Ronald School House, preserve the Museum's important functions, and protect the heritage of our area, all at a fraction of what it will cost the SSD (and us) to prevail with their plans to destroy those things.

Those who have become informed no longer take the word of the SSD at face value. No amount of pretty words on their part will make up for the way they are mismanaging this whole project.

Vicki Westberg and Art Waller
Shoreline, WA 

18 comments:

Anonymous,  July 19, 2010 at 9:48 PM  

"Those who have become informed no longer take the word of the SSD at face value. No amount of pretty words on their part will make up for the way they are mismanaging this whole project."

Can you please clarify what you mean by this. My understanding is that it was the museum that failed to live up to its part of the bargain. Why are you saying that the SSD went against its word/

Anonymous,  July 20, 2010 at 12:04 AM  

Yes, please do clarify. I have stayed well informed on this issue, following the arguments and plans closely, and still cannot see the school district in the villainous light you portray. I am left to wonder if this continuing rancor and ill-will is just simply because there are irreconcilable, competing priorities between the two institutions (museum board and school district).

Anonymous,  July 20, 2010 at 1:19 AM  

Here is one: the school district told the taxpayers that their property taxes would not go up with the bond, but in fact they did?

Here is another lie: the school district agreement in principle with museum has no deadlines, the only required performance on the part of the museum was to help the school district pass the levy & bond.

Or here is another lie: alleging that the museum acted in bad faith for filing a SEPA appeal, when the school district acted in bad faith and failed to notice the museum of the pending SEPA action -- sort of how the school district decided to design a new high school using the museum without telling them about it first.

Anonymous,  July 20, 2010 at 8:41 AM  

I may have this wrong, but I don't believe property taxes can be affected by bonds if they have not been sold yet. We just passed that, so they haven't sold any yet.

The Agreement in Principle may not have had deadlines, but the District promised us that they would secure the matching funds for construction from the State, worth about $17 million, and that DOES have a deadline which was also made clear during the campaign. Many voters will not forgive the District for blowing that deadline.

There must have been conversations stating deadlines between the two parties that were simply not made public.

And the Museum got a letter in April 2008 in response to their request for an updated lease agreement - which stated that they would not grant that request because of the Shorewood design process. As far as I can tell, the District has maintained all along that they needed the land, but the building was negotiable.

Not really sure how it's the District's fault that the land deal fell through, any more than the Museum's fault.

Anonymous,  July 20, 2010 at 8:58 AM  

Here's a thought...with the school district and the museum having a history of being entwined, why not use part of Shoreline Center to house the museum. It appears as though a lot of Shoreline Center is unused most of the time. Or, better yet, why not build a new building on the Shoreline Center grounds?

As a taxpayer and parent of two young children in the district, I get frustrated that this argument has to go on and on with no solution. Enough already! Step up to the plate folks and come up with an agreement. It's a big distraction for our school district and teachers...and students.

Anonymous,  July 20, 2010 at 11:43 AM  

I agree that it is not SSD's fault that the land deal fell through. Who were those people pictured in front of the museum holding big signs during the bond election "Support your bond" after an agreement was made?? They are the same ones who are now calling the SSD the axis of evil for doing their best to make an adequate educational facility for our students. They are constantly told they are wasting taxpayer money...but who is doing that now? Risking the loss of essential funds from the state? This fight cannot jeopardize those funds!
We desperately NEED a new high school! The place is falling down around the heads of the students and teachers. In spite of that, they win academic awards and have a reputation as a great academic school. I am all for preserving history for the community. The value to the community is immeasurable. But it does not HAVE to be done in that building!! Look at the Nordic Heritage Museum. They have been housed in an old school in Ballard for years and years, but they are actively raising funds for a brand new building!

How many more people will be served by the new high school...1500 students per year over 50+ years plus many, many community members? How many people visit the museum in a year? Just asking....

Anonymous,  July 20, 2010 at 12:56 PM  

The school district knew in September 2009 that Carter Subaru wanted to buy the land the museum was supposed to move to, yet they insisted on the "agreement in principle." How can one call that "good faith" on the part of the school district?

As for collecting taxes, I have news for you, the assessor is already collecting those taxes for the new bond & levy. That is what happens when you vote for something without knowledge.

From the King County Assessors website: 2009 Shoreline School District rate was 11.44946, in 2010 it is 12.96790 and there is no cap on the bond. The bond issue is written to raise $150 millon, if they cannot collect because of the devaluation of real property in the economic downturn, then the assessment rate will rise to make up for the shortfall. In this article, http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2011039443_schoolbondsfolo11m.html, read this quote:

"During the campaign, voters, "were asking 'What is this going to cost me?' " said Craig Degginger, Shoreline district spokesman. "Most seemed satisfied when you told them their tax rates would stay the same."

Well, it is clear that the Shoreline School District lied and that the taxpayers are already paying for that lie, as well as the museum

Anonymous,  July 20, 2010 at 3:07 PM  

Hold on. I remember reading in the voter information that the dollar amount collected would stay flat, but it was the rate that could, and likely would, fluctuate. This ensures that the funds are available for the projects no matter what our properties assess for. That should mean that the tax BILL stays the same, as the RATE changes with the market.

Our taxes apparently went down for 2010. Thanks for making me look that up on the assessor's website.

Also, I find it very difficult to believe that the School District would have known information about Carter Subaru that the Museum didn't. There were more parties putting energy into that agreement, including a mediator and representatives from the City. Do we really think that the District is THAT evil?

Anonymous,  July 20, 2010 at 6:44 PM  

I don't know what you were reading because there was NO VOTER INFORMATION. Right here, in the Shoreline Area News, Evan Smith wrote about that little problem, the Shoreline School District elected not to participate in the King County voter information pamphlet and he thought people should be concerned. Now I am concerned because you think you read something that didn't exist.

Anonymous,  July 21, 2010 at 7:30 AM  

No, not a statement in the Voter's Pamphlet. It was a direct mailing, and information presented at every bond/levy presentation made. It looked something like this:

http://www.voteyesforshorelineschools.com/YES/Your_Taxes.html

Anonymous,  July 21, 2010 at 9:20 AM  

Evan Smith's point about the lack of a King County voter information pamphlet statement is a good one: it presents both sides of an issue.

Your example, Vote Yes For Shoreline, was produced by a political action committee is a biased presentation and offers no point, and counterpoint. That is why Evan Smith stated that the school district's decision was counter to the democratic process.

Thank you for proving my point. You further proved my point in that you blindly voted without educating yourself.

Anonymous,  July 21, 2010 at 10:59 PM  

"Your example, Vote Yes For Shoreline, was produced by a political action committee is a biased presentation and offers no point, and counterpoint. That is why Evan Smith stated that the school district's decision was counter to the democratic process."

Are you really stating that there was NO counter point to the levy. I got several mailers supporting the museum. There were also picketers, people coming to my door, and many postings on this and other sites.

There was an ecomonic reason the SSD decided not to go in the voter pamphlet. A reason that saved tax payers a lot of money.

We didn't vote for the school buiding blindly. And we didn't vote "against the museum" (although I know many parents don't really care about the museum). We voted for a new school because as citizens, tax payers, and parents that's what we think the city needs.

Has the musuem explored other options, such as moving the collection to the Shoreline Center (another old school building) as the previous poster suggested.

Why is housing the museum on that building so important?

Anonymous,  July 21, 2010 at 11:02 PM  

"The school district knew in September 2009 that Carter Subaru wanted to buy the land the museum was supposed to move to, yet they insisted on the "agreement in principle." How can one call that "good faith" on the part of the school district?"

Is there any factual basis for this claim. How did the SSD now? And when did the SSD "insist" on the agreement in principle. In fact, how could they have insisted? What research did the museum do before signing it?

Anonymous,  July 21, 2010 at 11:13 PM  

Just as a side note to this whole argument...I for one will not patronize Carter Subaru again. I understand business decisions, but outbidding the museum on the property was not action supportive to their immediate community. They should have left it alone. How much room do they need to park cars that many of us cannot afford to buy? Apologies for the digression, but it had to be said.

Anonymous,  July 21, 2010 at 11:25 PM  

Has anyone worked on a grassroot effot to get Carter Subaru to sell the land to the museum? Perhaps with enough community pressure they could be convinced?

Anonymous,  July 22, 2010 at 3:40 AM  

Shoreline already destroyed the Red Brick Road for Aurora Rents and Gateway Plaza, but you want to punish Carter Subaru? Why punish one business and not another? Why not punish the school district, they are the public agency directly responsible for destroying a landmark.

Shoreline has so few historical landmarks, that's why it matters. The museum has spent millions of dollars restoring the building to make it eligible for state and federal nomination standards, and the school district was fully aware of it.

No one here has answered my question about why the school district has not answered the SEPA questions on the lack of a traffic study, one of the most dangerous intersections in Shoreline is directly in front of the new high school, but the school district has not addressed it -- aren't you concerned about student safety? What a bunch of hypocrites.

The school district will have to do another SEPA on integrating the museum building into the high school, and another appeal will probably be filed. Do you actually believe that they are going to stay on schedule? The litigation is going to affect their bond, all of this controversy is counter to their best interests, but the school district leadership lacks the vision to realize it.

Anonymous,  July 23, 2010 at 2:05 PM  

"Why not punish the school district, they are the public agency directly responsible for destroying a landmark."

The SSD isn't destroying a landmark. They are using the building for its originally intended purpose.

Anonymous,  July 24, 2010 at 5:19 PM  

Those involved in this need to get a mediator, leave their agendas at the door and work something out!! Enough already! GET IT DONE!

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