Posts tagged: historic preservation
OLYMPIA — A House panel voted narrowly this morning to combine several arts and heritage programs into one “mega-agency” and provide money for the Museum of Arts and Culture from a fund set up for a planned Heritage Center in Olympia.
On a 6-5 vote, the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee approved HB 2033, a bill that creates a Department of Heritage, Arts and Culture from an array of existing programs. It would place two state historical societies in the new department, as well as the MAC and the State History Museum in Tacoma, as well as the Heritage Center and a fund created from a special fee on documents filed with county auditors.
Gov. Chris Gregoire's budget proposes cutting funding for those two museums so significantly that the two facilities will be closed to the public and only have enough staff to maintain their collections. The House Democrats' budget proposal keeps the museums open by tapping the Heritage Center fund.
Rep. Jeannie Darnielle, D-Tacoma, said the bill represented one of the tough choices facing the Legislature: “We have to choose between our existing agencies and museums or look to something new.” It would change the Heritage Center fund to a heritage fund that maintains existing museums and arts programs across the state.
Republicans on the panel objected. “We're creating a new agency when reforms should be going the other direction,” Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia said. When the House GOP introduces its alternative budget later today, it will propose a way to keep the Spokane and Tacoma museums open without tapping the Heritage Center money, he added.
One Democrat objected, too. Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-Federal, said the bill merely rearranges the agencies rather than focusing on processes and people. “Setting up a new department just doesn't send the right message to the public,” he said.
Employees of the new department would remain members of their current collective bargaining units and keep their contracts. Republicans lost on an amendment that would have cancelled the current agreements and required what Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, called “a clean look at those contracts.”
The Spokane City Council on Monday gave the green light to tear down two 85-year-old downtown warehouses.
The city already has a demolition permit for the historic structures, which sit on the southeast corner of Riverside and Division, but the land is owned by Washington State University.
The council voted 6-1 to approve an agreement that transfers the land to the city, clearing the way for the buildings’ removal.
The warehouses are the former homes of Western Piggly Wiggly, a grocery chain based in Spokane that later was bought by Safeway, and Ryan Fruit Co. Earlier this year, downtown developer Dan Spalding unsuccessfully tried to persuade the city and WSU to save at least one of the buildings.
City administrators say that the buildings are in the way of the proposed extension of Riverside Avenue, which will be called Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
Eldon Brown, Spokane’s principal engineer of developer services, said construction of Riverside and demolition of the warehouses is expected to start around Oct. 1.