A curious sidelight to this year’s budget deliberations was a sudden flurry of activity relating to Hangar 30 at Magnuson Park.  This has been a great venue for community events, but, like most of the buildings taken over from the Navy there, Building 30 needs substantial renovation in order to be available for long term use.

For the last few years, Hangar 30 has been operating under a year-to-year permit that allows events to take place while renovation is proceeding.  Unfortunately, a decision was made in October to limit the number of events in future years unless the building is completely renovated.  While this does not affect some major events, like the library book sale, it will prevent many other events from happening.

By an amazing coincidence this decision was announced along with a plan to renovate the building for some $8.5 million shortly after the Council announced that we had secured an advance of $8.5 million from MOHAI that will allow us to continue a number of services that the Mayor had cut from the 2011 budget.  The MOHAI money, incidentally, will be repaid from the City’s proceeds (estimated at $15 million) from the acquisition of land by the state for the SR 520 project, expected to happen in 2013.  The Council’s use of this money is fully sustainable for that reason.

This closure had never been suggested to the Council, and it is not clear what the basis is for the projected costs for design and construction.  The Mayor also projected more than half a million dollars in revenue if the renovation proceeded.

The Council was not willing to accept this last minute suggestion that had not been analyzed or reviewed.  We are potentially willing to proceed with the renovation of Building 30, and would consider the following possibilities:

1.  Continuing to allow operations under the previous agreement, as long as progress towards full renovation is proceeding.

2.  Funding the renovation through a long-term bond (the way we usually fund such major capital projects).  If the Mayor’s numbers are accurate, the revenues should be enough to repay the investment over time without any additional use of the City’s general fund.

As noted above, there are a number of Magnuson Park buildings that need renovation.  We welcome a proposal from the Mayor that would provide a long-range plan to complete this work, and look forward to reviewing such a proposal and moving forward with these actions.