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State Parks to host workshop, discussion of Saint Edward Seminary building's fate

Washington State Parks is beginning a planning process to evaluate a potential long-term lease of the seminary building located at Saint Edward State Park in Kenmore on the boudary with Kirkland.

The public is invited to a workshop Jan. 14 to give their input on the building's future. The meeting is from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the North Shore Utility District Meeting Room, located at 6830 NE 185th St. in Kenmore.

"I just really hope that this meeting tells us all what we want to know; and that is, what will happen to the park surrounding this building," said Tom Fitzpatrick, member of the Friends of Saint Edward State Park. "There's been so many issues surrounding this building over the years and so many rumors. Basically, the most important thing to me is that we keep the integrity of the park."

The Saint Edward Seminary, situated within Saint Edward State Park is a historic property listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The seminary is in poor condition and continues to deteriorate despite considerable investment and effort to stabilize the structure.

The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has identified historic properties in the state park system, including the Seminary, as among Washington’s most threatened and the commission has not been successful securing adequate state capital funding to open the Seminary structure for public use and ensure its ongoing stabilization.

Washington State Parks is beginning a planning process to evaluate a potential long-term lease of the Seminary building at Saint Edward State Park. The seminary structure and associated cultural landscape were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

During the past several months, a group of historic preservation, political and community leaders, has been meeting with Washington State Parks, to discuss how to preserve the Saint Edward Seminary building and grounds. In response to emerging potential for partnerships, the Washington State Parks Commission adopted a resolution on Nov. 14, 2013 authorizing the Director to “explore partnerships with other public and private sector entities for the purpose of rehabilitating the Saint Edward Seminary building.”

A private real estate broker approached Washington State Parks with a proposal to lease the seminary on a long-term basis in November. The client has chosen to stay anonymous and all parties are complying with the request.

The discussions went so far as broker Kidder Mathews’ representatives drafting a letter of understanding outlining preliminary lease details. The idea that the organization attempting to lease the building had ties to the department of defense riled many in the community.

Parks officials did not act on the document, which expired on Nov. 22 but there have been on-going discussions.

“We’re encouraged that an individual who could more cost-effectively site his cyber-security office space anywhere in Kenmore is considering up to $40 million in Seminary building renovations and significant upgrades to surrounding grounds and recreational facilities, out of love for the State Park,” wrote Friends of Saint Edward State Park  President Heather Kaminsky and Families for Active Parks in Kenmore President Mike Mulcare in letter to the Reporter on page 4.

Any lease of the building would have a direct impact on Bastyr University by the increased traffic on the two-lane road through the park.

Built in 1930, the seminary needs an estimated $40 million in restoration. The Washington State Parks invested $2.4 million in storm drainage, water proofing, grading, paving and replanting in 2008 and 2009. Most of the building has been closed to the public during the past four decades.

In 1976, Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen announced the closure of the seminary. One year later the building and 316 acres were sold to the Washington State Parks for $7 million.

State parks is beginning a public planning process to evaluate this proposal and develop recommendations to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission on an appropriate development plan.

In January 2007, following an extensive public process, state parks adopted a park management plan including land classifications and a long-term park boundary to provide direction for future preservation and development of the park. These agency actions will serve as a starting point for the current evaluation process.

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