By Debbie Klosowski, Mayor, City of University Place
Future plans for two city-owned houses in the Curran Orchard and Kobayashi Park were among discussion items at a joint meeting of the University Place City Council and UP Parks Commission this week.
Curran House – History –In 1995, the UP Community Council obtained a Conservation Futures grant from Pierce County to purchase the 7.5 acre Curran Apple Orchard and home. After Mrs. Curran moved out, the City rented out the house from 1999 to 2007. When the tenants left in 2007, the City discovered several unauthorized and incomplete remodeling projects along with other unreported problems such as a leaking roof, shower and skylight. The home has been vacant since that time.
During the past few years, several options were considered including:
*Performing repairs and continue renting out the house;
*Bringing the house up to code for public use;
*Demolishing the home and using the space as a temporary picnic area with the option of constructing a future public building; and
*Subdividing the home from the property and selling it. (This option was later found invalid due to Pierce County Conservation covenants).
August of 2008—An outside consultant estimated it would take $125,000 to bring the house back to a rentable condition. The consultant also indicated it would be more cost effective to demolish the building, rather than trying to reconfigure the home for public meeting space and bringing it up to code.
In September 2008, a group called Curran House Investigating and Planning Study (CHIPS) approached council, stating their desire to explore options for the home which they believe has historical and architectural significance. Council agreed to give CHIPS time to return with a plan for future options as well as a timeline to get sufficient community commitment for obtaining funds to become self-sustaining.
Feb. 2011 — CHIPs representatives Karen Benveniste and Linda Tanz along with roofing architect Gerald Eysaman and Michael Sullivan of Artifacts, Inc. presented a brief update to council.
CHIPs has successfully obtained grants and in-kind donations including:
*Window repair worth $900
*A Pierce County Conservation Futures grant for $30,000 for roof replacement (roof bids received to date range from $39,000 to $78,000);
*Consideration for funding from the Key Bank Foundation
*Creation of a Historic Structure Report ($14,000 value made possible to due cash awards and in kind contributions)
*More than 400 volunteer hours
Mr. Sullivan also urged council to support the nomination of the Curran House to the Historic Register which would result in more points for future grant applications along with potentially turning the house over to the CHIPs group.
Although most UP Park Commissioners favored keeping the house, issues were raised including ongoing maintenance costs and bringing the house up to code. Council will discuss these issues further at its retreat this weekend.
Kobayashi Park is a 4.8 acre parcel adjacent to Leach and Chambers Creeks, near the intersection of Bridgeport Way and 67th Avenue West.
History: After the City acquired the property, Landau Consultants was hired in 2008 to develop a master site plan. Extensive citizen input at several meetings indicated widespread community support for habitat restoration, removal of invasive species, clearly defined walking trails, construction of boardwalks and view points, and installation of benches, picnic areas and interpretive signs. Although the preferred public alternative involved demolishing the house, the UP Park Commission preferred to keep the house. In March 2010, the City Council approved a hybrid option to explore a caretaker for the house which could someday be used as public space.
Since that time, the City rented the house to a private party in response to concerns about vandalism. In May 2010, renters discovered mold which turned out to be quite significant based upon further examination. A kitchen fire also broke out in September, resulting in major damage throughout the house. Now that the City has received a $88,122 insurance check, questions have arisen as to what is the best use for the money, and what, if any, improvements should be made to the house?
Several park commissioners advocated for demolishing all or most of the house, with a portion dedicated to an “open air” shelter. Other discussion centered on the significant cost of bringing the house up to code, ADA accessibility, and installation of fire sprinklers. Opportunities for improving the trailhead and constructing a restroom were also cited as potential improvements.
(The Kobayashi site is a future trailhead for a proposed regional trail extending from Ft. Steilacoom Park to the Chambers Creek Properties past the Kobayashi site, then heading north to city limits).
Further council discussion will occur at the council retreat this weekend.
In other items, the council:
*Increased Park Rental Fees for picnic shelters, the Curran Orchard Band Shell and multi-purpose ballfields at Cirque Park to recover maintenance costs for those facilities. Specific rental information is available online at www.cityofup.com
*Authorized a change order for $41,557 for the Grandview Drive Safe Routes to Schools project from 19th to 27th to address subsurface conflicts with the storm line as well as allowing for a 10-foot wide shared pedestrian/bicycle path in one area versus a more costly adjustment of the Crystal Creek culvert. All project costs are covered by a state grant.
*City Website Launch!
Check out our new city website at www.cityofup.com! Council authorized a revamp of our city’s website several years ago to improve citizen communication, transparency and ability of citizens, businesses and visitors to access information. Take a minute to visit our site to get the latest info on city news and events!
*2010 Police Report – UP Police Chief Rusty Wilder presented a 2010 police summary which included:
*Officer Calls – In 2009, 22 officers responded to 17,726 calls or 806 average calls per officer compared to a reduced staff of 15 officers in 2010 responding to 17,289 calls or 1,152 calls per officer.
*Property crimes are up 13% with burglary up 15% and motor vehicle theft up 12%.
There were 388 motor vehicle thefts last year compared to 294 the previous year.
Residents are urged to remove all valuables from their cars. Also, people should avoid locking up purses, wallets and other valuable in their trunks in full view of others before going on walks or errands because this can encourage thieves to break into cars.
*Aggravated assaults are up 17% but Domestic Violence incidents are down.
For more information, please visit www.cityofup.com or contact Chief Wilder at 798-3848.
*Farewell Mary – It was with a great deal of sadness that we learned that former UP resident Mary Curran passed away on Valentine’s Day in Seattle. Mary and Charles Curran were among the “pioneers” in University Place who helped build our community. Mr. and Mrs. Curran came to University Place after Mrs. Curran won a lot in the Soundview addition based on her winning essay about the advantages of living in University Place. The Currans eventually purchased a 7 acre parcel along Grandview Drive upon which they built a home, raised their family (and several animals, including horses Christopher and Brewster) and planted more than 250 apple trees.
As the Currans grew older, they agreed to delay selling the land with the hope that grant funds could be found to preserve the orchard as a park. The UP Community Council successfully obtained funding to purchase the property, now known as the Curran Apple Orchard Park.
Although Mr. and Mrs. Curran made many positive contributions to our community, their greatest legacy will undoubtedly live on in the wonderful park they created.
*Food Bank Drop Off – Help replenish the UP Food Bank on Saturday, March 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can contribute items and cash donations at three locations: in front of the Civic Building on Bridgeport Way, Fred Meyer at Bridgeport and 67th, and the Fircrest branch of Columbia Bank near the intersection of Regents and Mildred.
Last year’s food drop off resulted in more than 6,000 pounds of food. The UP Food Bank also collects donations Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at their location (2610 Sunset Drive West) in back of UP Presbyterian Church.
School Supplies – Pencils, pens, paper, large three ring binders, dividers, backpacks and alarm clocks are among the items needed by local schoolchildren. Please drop off donations at Narrows View Middle School, 7814 44th St. West for distribution throughout the district.
Rebuilding Together South Sound – Free home repairs for low income homeowners who are elderly, disabled or families with children are available by contacting www.rebuildingtogetherss.org or by calling 238-0977.
Free Immunizations – Franciscan Health Services, Mary Bridge and Multicare Mobile Health Services offer free immunizations for low income women and children. Free whooping cough vaccines are also available for uninsured or underinsured adults caring for newborns or infants.
For more information, contact 926-6938. Discussions are also underway among Franciscan and local community organizations to examine the possibility of offering free mobile clinics to qualified UP residents in the future.
Peace Out – An afterschool program that connects teens with senior citizens along with encouraging them to become young philanthropists are among the key goals of a nonprofit program called “Peace Out.” The 8-week program, which fulfills community service requirements, enables teens to select a nonprofit group, establish a “foundation” and take the necessary steps toward raising funds for the community group they have selected. Teens discuss projects with seniors and work with mentors to develop fundraising plans to help selected organizations such as the Humane Society, Playground by the Sound, Northwest Furniture Bank and the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center. For more information, please visit www.myPeaceOut.org or 691-3029.
*Special thanks to everyone involved with the Daddy Daughter Dance last Saturday…yet another great event offered by our Parks and Recreation department!
*Library Grand Opening –More than 4,500 people attended the grand opening of the new UP Library on Feb. 12. If you haven’t had a chance to visit, come see what everyone is raving about!
On opening day, visitors checked out 4,150 items and 255 people signed up for new library cards. The library is open seven days a week: Sunday (1pm-5pm); Monday through Thursday (10 am to 9 pm) Friday (10 am to 6 pm) and Saturday (10 a.m. to 5 pm).
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