Chapel Hill Civic Center Appears Doomed
The City and Sno-Isle's vision for a shared Civic Center campus has burst at the seams, with the City listing its Chapel Hill lot for sale as it eyes a potential S. Lake Stevens City Hall location
Two years ago the City and Sno-Isle Libraries embarked on a shared process aimed at delivering a new Civic Center campus at Chapel Hill and 99th. And following a multi-year public process involving three public agencies, at least four surveys and three consultancies, a decision was made.
On September 18, 2021 the City of Lake Stevens revealed the preferred alternative for the new Civic Center Campus. Their intent — at the time — remains reflected on the City’s dedicated Civic Center website:
“The Lake Stevens City Council, Sno-Isle, and the District agreed on a preferred alternative, which includes two buildings, shared parking, outdoor learning and meeting spaces along with a small café space.”
The City — owners of two lots on the corner of 99th and Chapel Hill Road, and the Sno-Isle Library District — owners of an adjoining lot at the same location, would team up with the Lake Stevens Sewer District to build a multi-purpose civic center hosting a new library and city hall along with meeting facilities. The design called for one story buildings threaded together along the three lots surrounded by paths, interpretive areas, quiet spaces to read or reflect, a cafe and meeting spaces.
The decision seemed to mesh well with community wishes, voiced through a series of surveys, and Sno-Isle’s pressing need to begin construction on new facilities after City development plans closed the previous library in May of 2021.
The City’s surveys of residents revealed clear marching orders: citizens wanted the library portion of the project prioritized, they wanted to achieve cost saving through collaboration, and they were adamantly opposed to a concept that called for selling one third of the property to developers while stacking the public facilities into a multi-story structure.
Despite the seeming consensus reached at the end of this multi-year process — and the published preferred alternative site design developed at considerable time and cost, it seems that the Civic Center process lost steam almost as soon as the multi year selection process was completed. In fact, publicly available documents reveal that almost immediately after completing this multi-year public process resulting in the “preferred alternative”, City officials pivoted away from the collaborative decision and embarked on several much less public processes of their own.
Given the fact that the City has recently listed its civic center parcel of land for sale and tomorrow’s Library Board quarterly meeting features an agenda item calling for an update on the city’s library strategy, the J425 embarked on an attempt to unravel what exactly occurred after the City announced — with great fan fair — the public selection of a shared civic center alternative at Chapel Hill.
Timeline of Events
After a review of relevant public documentation, the J425 can reveal the following timeline. You can check out the bullet points here, and the details down below.
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