Community

County to move services to town

Construction has begun at the little-used Firefighters’ Association Building on Bank Road to transform it into a Vashon hub of King County services.

Come February, the services now found at Courthouse Square will move into the 2,600-square-foot building across from the fire station. The sheriff’s office will be there, as will the courtroom and an office of the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review. Islanders will also be able to stop by to pay their property taxes, obtain passports and  marriage licenses and access other

services.

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will also be housed there in the event of an island-wide emergency.

“I think it is a win-win for everybody,” said George Brown, the assistant chief at Vashon Island Fire & Rescue (VIFR).

The plan to move county services to town has been in the works since the  Vashon Firefighters’ Association disbanded in 2009 and gave the building to VIFR. The county’s relocation plans formalized in 2012.

Now, Brown said, the building, which has been mostly used for storage and occasional drills since given to the fire department, will undergo a complete renovation, be gutted down to the studs, with new electrical and HVAC systems installed and new walls erected.

A benefit to the district will be that the courtroom, which is used infrequently, will also serve as a public meeting room and a classroom for VIFR, which expects to put it to good use, Brown said.

“It is not uncommon that we will have all three of our classrooms in use multiple times a week,” Brown added.

He noted that he is also pleased that the EOC — when it is needed — will have a dedicated home, with the infrastructure, such as computer and phone lines, built in to support it.

King County is providing funds for the renovation, said county spokesman Cameron Satterfield.

As the landlord, VIFR is responsible for the building renovations and will be reimbursed by the county. After the bidding process, Brown said, VIFR selected Regency Northwest of Bellevue to do the work. That bid came in at $575,000, which the county approved, Satterfield said.

Moving into the new building will be a cost-saving move for King County. Its current rent at Courthouse Square, owned by islander Tom Bangasser, is $2,376 a month  plus utilities. The courtroom has been located there since the building was built in 1973.

At VIFR’s building in town, the county’s stay will be rent-free for the first five years in return for reimbursing VIFR for the renovations. After that, the base rent will be $547.50 per month, Satterfield said. The lease term is 10 years. The move-in date is slated for Feb. 1, if all renovations are complete.

Satterfield noted that it took longer than anticipated for both parties to finalize plans that would work well for them both and be within the budget. But now the process is well under way. Brown agreed.

“It’s been a long process, and we’re happy to see it started,” Brown said.

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