A Blog About the Environment, Land Use, Preservation, Politics and Life, In and Around Shoreline, WA
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Monday, January 11, 2010
Save the Shoreline Museum- Essay by Steve Billings
Here is a passionate essay on the Shoreline Historical Museum situation and the School District's unfortunate "choice" for voters on the School Bond Ballot Measure offered by Steve "Radioguy" Billings of the Puget Sound Antique Radio Association. Also offered, some photos illustrating their fascinating exhibit on the second floor of the museum. It encompasses virtually the entire history of radios, from the last century. Memories everyone can relate to.
Save The Shoreline Museum- An Editorial By Steve Billings, Secretary, Puget Sound Antique Radio Association
In our hobby, we have saved many fine old artifacts from oblivion. Now, it’s time to help save the big one: the Shoreline Historical Museum itself. Housed in the old Ronald School Building, the museum has since 1975 been a favorite attraction for young and old, local and tourist alike. Reflecting the region‘s unique heritage, it also stands unique among museums in that the building itself is also a historic artifact. Now, after a major facelift and other work the building, erected in 1912 is once more under attack, this time not from dry rot and mortar deterioration, but from the Shoreline school district which owns the land upon which it stands.
Without going into a lot of complicated legalese, here is the situation in a nutshell. In 1973 the Ronald School Building was sold to the City of Shoreline for the token price of $1.00 for use as a museum. The sales contract apparently contains a clause which under certain “emergency” circumstances allows the School Board the option of buying back the building as long as some conditions are met, among these exhausting any other feasible options. After over thirty years, and with two years remaining on the current lease, Shoreline School District has suddenly decided to try and invoke this option - or sidestep it altogether depending on one’s perspective. If successful, the museum would be evicted and a valuable asset to the community lost forever.
Their primary legal argument, at least at this point would seem to be that in order to be valid and binding, the original contract should have been accompanied by a property assessment, which was the school board’s responsibility to secure but was never done- ergo, the contract is invalid and the school board can legally ignore any provisions it may find inconvenient, much the same way it ignored it‘s initial responsibility to secure an assessment. (Say, if you followed that line of thinking, wouldn’t the buy-back option also be null and void?) I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly envy any lawyer who is tasked with making a case based upon the corner-cutting and legal shortcomings of his own client, anymore than I would envy the taxpayer who got stuck with funding such an ambulance race!. The school board’s lukewarm response to any dialogue regarding other options not involving chloroforming the museum (and there are many) would indicate that they have made up their minds already and are generally unwilling to negotiate in good faith. This plus their near total lack of any coherent plans or estimates for achieving their professed goal of converting the building into “needed” office and/or library space has fostered a not wholly unreasonable conclusion among many that their actual intent is not to use the Ronald School Building at all, but to simply raze this historic structure to the ground after laying claim to it once a gratuitous “Feasibility Study” has deemed the original plan “Unworkable”. It would seem more than mere coincidence that their effort should come as they ready for the construction of a new high school on the adjacent property. Even in the event that the stated plan is accurate, as one with some experience in building restoration as well as waste disposal and related subjects, I can attest to the fact that any such job is never as easy, straight-forward or cost-effective as first impressions would indicate and first impressions in this case are in fact quite foreboding. The building in question, although in remarkably good condition is nearly a century old, still retains much of it’s original infrastructure and as became apparent during the installation of the elevator holds it’s share of surprises in the form of forgotten or otherwise unknown pipes, fixtures and other structural factors to complicate matters.
While the school board claims this is a plan for the future of education in the region, it is in fact a plan with no future and the worst of all worlds, one which throws away not only our tax dollars but also our heritage. The list of public officials the school board has angered with this imprudent plan is long indeed and includes former Seattle Mayor Gregg Nickels, most if not all city and county council members, and even Governor Christine Gregoire, who’s husband recently enjoyed a visit to the museum himself and remarked how much he liked the PSARA Radio Room in particular. PSARA has been meeting in the building for most of the club’s existence and has maintained a display there for many years. Also angered should be anyone with either a love of history or a distain for shortsighted bureaucratic waste. One rather interesting idea that has been put forth is the idea of liens against the building filed by anyone having a financial stake in the Ronald School Building. This could include any organizations and/or persons donating money, such as PSARA’s contribution to the elevator project, as well as anyone who dropped a dollar in the museum’s contribution box, which would include just about everyone who ever paid a visit to the museum including yours truly. Although the jury is still out (no pun intended) as to just how this would have to addressed legally, it could conceivably tie things up long enough for school board members to rethink their position. (if not retire)
Of course the importance of making our voices heard to public officials can not be overstated. I have discussed this subject with a number of people who have stated that at least with certain ones they may have to hold their nose in order to do so. I say, come on, people, this matter is more than important enough to put aside the partisan rancor in order to save the museum. After all, what the school board is trying to do is “Bi-partisan B.S.” in it’s purest form. It should and by all accounts does anger folks on both sides of the isle and if a favorable outcome means that I have to put on my Sunday manners for someone whom I would not see in office upon any terms, then so be it. We may not have voted for each and every one of them, but each and every one is what we pay for, so let’s start writing and get some bang for our buck! Several local newspapers will be running articles on this issue in the near future. In the meantime, let’s all write to our public officials and express our displeasure over this plan and let them know that the Shoreline Historical Museum is a part of Seattle worth saving - Historic building and all.
For more information on The Puget Sound Antique Radio Association, visit our website at: http://www.eskimo.com/~hhagen/psara
• Douglass Squirrel sighted in Briarcrest by Chris Southwick Feb 2012
• Cottontail Rabbit sighted in Briarcrest Neighborhood Nov 1st. Did not look like a domestic "bunny!"
• Coyote spotted in Paramount Park Meadow, just sittin'. 3/11
• Varied Thrush sighted in Paramount Park Neighborhood 2 & 3/11
• Townsends Warbler photographed in Highland Terrace Neighborhood 1/11
• Blackheaded Grossbeak sighted near Paramount Park last Fall
• Great Blue Heron sighted at Hidden Lake in Boeing Creek basin
• Barred Owl sighted in Thornton Creek Park #1 near Jackson Park, 8/10
• White crowned sparrow identified in Highland Terrace/Aurora Square neighborhood
• Blackheaded Grossbeak sighting in Hillwood neighborhood
• Two Raptors sighted in Shoreline. Osprey and Merlin have been documented at Ronald Bog and Echo Lake respectively this summer (2010)
• Pacific Chorus Frog heard in Shoreline's Hillwood Neighborhood
• Three types of warblers identified in Briarcrest neighborhood in May and June
• Red Breasted Sapsucker Banded in Briarcrest Neighborhood of Shoreline
• 4/16 - Mating pair of Pileated Woodpecker seen yesterday in Paramount Park. They were utilizing some "snags" (dead trees) which were placed in the wetland restoration area with a KC Wildlife Habitat Grant in 2002. The Pileated Woodpecker is considered a "Priority Species" by WDFW. The pairs mate for life and make their nests in cavities they excavate in dead trees with their sharp beaks. They eat insects and grubs they find in the dead wood.
• Great Blue Heron seen today at Thornton Creek Par #6 eating two fish in five minutes. It's interesting to note that it took many years to get the City of Seattle to realize that there are fish living in Thornton Creek, only 2-3 blocks from Northgate. In the design of the Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel at Northgate, fish passage was a non-negotiable issue. The Great Blue Heron is considered a Priority Species by WA State.
• River Otter Spotted at Kruckeberg Botanic Garden! The Garden does not have a river running through it, so we were startled to see what appeared to be a river otter (Lutra canadensis) passing through recently. River otters live in rivers, streams, and coastlines. With water repellant fur and webbed feet, these playful members of the weasel family are designed for swimming and catching fish, their main food. However, they often wander far from water in search of a mate or new living area, surprising the unsuspecting staff of botanic gardens. The Kruckeberg Garden is near the headwaters of Storm Creek.
• Wood Ducks seem to be happily proliferating at Thornton Creek Park Six near Northgate. With the help of stewards, beavers and other species, habitat is improving at this little "wild" urban paradise. Despite a jungle of invasives there is a wetland habitat (improved by beavers) that suits the Wood Ducks. Today, 13 were sighted in the branches of a fallen cottonwood. 13 Wood Ducks Today!
• Beaver families have been moving in and building habitat around our urban watersheds, especially into Thornton Creek. Here is a photo a "creative engineer" naturally utilizing the creek corridor at Thornton Creek Park #6, which is a wetland waiting for better "engineering".
• At least 40 bird species have been sighted at Paramount Park over the last 20 years and more. The Barred Owl is one visitor who is watching over us.
• 12 birds at Greenlake today including Western Grebe, Bufflehead, Great Blue Heron and Hooded and Red-breasted Merganser
Janet proudly served on Shoreline City Council, from 2005-2009 and is an outspoken, current environmental and preservation activist residing in Shoreline, WA. Over the past 20 years, she and many other partners have succeeded in many remarkable accomplishments for the environment and community. On the City Council, she helped spearhead many environmental achievements for Shoreline, giving Shoreline a "green city" profile. She is a founding member of Paramount Park Neighborhood Group, Thornton Creek Legal Defense Fund (which advocated for and succeeded in "daylighting" Thornton Creek at Northgate), South Woods Preservation Group, Lake Ballinger Forum, Sno-King Economic Gardening group and other efforts. She serves on the Advisory Board of Friends of Fircrest, and is a member of Shoreline Chamber of Commerce and Shoreline Solar Project.
Janet holds an Art degree from Moore College of Art, Phila, and runs an arts business for 30 yrs. She also is sales rep for Appel Farms dairy at Seattle Farmers Markets.
Janet and her wonderful, patient husband, Alan Worthington of 32 yrs have two grown sons, Travis and Spencer.