Guest Post regarding the history and function of Nokomis Building by Patsy Rosenbach, Kirkland.
Nokomis Building Procedures
Letter to the Editor, Redmond Reporter December 1-14, 2015
Growing up in Redmond and the Redmond of today are vastly different. The “Third Street” (now 166th Avenue N.E.) I grew up on of residences with yards and gardens has disappeared into high rise apartments and condominiums snugged right up to the sidewalk. How is the sun to reach the earth? Are zoning laws being upheld? What about carbon footprint? The earth is paved over. Lost is the feeling of neighborhoods and private residences.
Next on the chopping block is the historically significant Nokomis building, built in 1933 during the Great Depression by the WPA for intended use as a library and use of the commuity. My first job as a student at the Redmond Elementary School was to walk to the library about once a week to check in books. I recall the librarian Mamie Orr and her assistant Mrs. Morrell, and I recall the visits of Mrs. Ottini as she arrived with arms full of books. How she ever got through them all is still impressive to me. Those were days long gone by.
And now the City of Redmond is partnering with a builder to raze the historic Nokomis buildng which was built on land donated by Redmond’s Brown family for community use. That purpose is now foregone in favor of a multi-story dense housing facility of dormitory size rooms with 48 tenants per floor sharing kitchen space. Would you want to share your kitchen with 47 other residents? What about sanitation? What about privacy issues? Proposed are 96 units of 200 square feet each, with ground floor to be retail space. How will the 29 parking spaces allocated accommodate such a facility? And what is to become of the street traffic? Who will monitor such a facility and its maintenance indoors and out? What will this invite?
Attendance at the Redmond City Council meeting on December 1, 2015, to appeal this decision yielded ongoing concerns. Of primary concern is legal ownership of the building. What entity holds the last Statutory Warranty Deed to the building? It is my understanding that the Nokomis Club sold the building to the Redmond Chamber of Commerce for continued community use. The Chamber was disbanded and taken over by One Redmond, an organization membered by the mayor, council members, and the current presumed owner. How can the title company and/or escrow company clear title without benefit of a clean Statutory Warranty Deed? Who is responsible for making that provision?
It is apparent that this perception of a conflict of interest would come into question as the mayor and three council members recused themselves from the Council hearing on December 1. And how is it that documentation provided by the Nokomis representatives was devalued or not considered as part of the hearing? The Council’s scripted responses were recited in rote, appearing totally biased. It is as if a determination was made by the mayor and council prior to any sort of “hearing” to arrive at the decision to deny the appeals to the Hearing Examiner’s decision to prevent demolition of the building.
The questions and doubts about the legality and appropriateness of issues surrounding this situation are sorely disappointing. What will be the outcome?
Patsy Rosenbach, Kirkland, WA