Your input is needed on what to do with the old Firehouse on Main Street at Magnuson Park, the former Navy Airfield.
The Wedwood Community Council recently posted on their website that Julianna Ross, the chair of the Magnuson Park Advisory Committee, is soliciting ideas through Popularise, a website that allows people to share ideas and comment or vote on specific properties and projects.
The old firehouse, also known as Building 18, is approximately 14,013 square feet, and unfortunately is in serious disrepair and needs a lot of work, just like many of the other buildings on the old Navy Base. However the buildling is centrally located, right off the main entrance to the Park on NE 74th Street, where most people enter by bus, foot, bike, or car.
The building is on the way to many of the park’s most popular areas such as off-leash dog area, the various ball fields, restored wetlands, outdoor amphitheater, community garden and playground. It is also directly across from Building 30, another important historic building, which was a former airplane hangar with offices that is being renovated by the City starting in October.
The building has nearby parking and the first floor is mainly comprised of large garage doors and a brick interior. The four-story tower formerly used for drying hoses can be seen from much of the historic district.
So far, some of the ideas for the building, according to the Wedwood Community Council, range from converting the site into a Navy Support Museum, creating an information center, or bringing a “Firehouse Cafe” to the park.
The Laurelhurst Community Club told us that this is "a very important issue and the Parks Department is not listening to residents. So we encourage neighbors to give their input right away. The sooner the better so we can let the Parks Department know there is interest in the old Firehouse."
We have been told that Cascade Bikes apparently has right of first refusal for use but they have not yet submitted an idea for bike use and rental that would be fun for the community.
The building was set to be demolished in 2009 for $200,00, according to a 2009 post on an architecture Blog. And in 2001, the City had slated $60,000 to repair the roof that was beginning to fall into disrepair, but the City took no action. Four years later, another estimate was given for $200,000 and again nothing was done.
Fortunately the building was never demolished and the writer says:
The building marks the end of the main street that runs north to south in the historic district, and creates a nice grouping of buildings before the larger open space of grass and parking to the south. The firehouse also acts like a way finder to the activities in the park, and at any given time 5-10 temporary signs are placed in front of the building to communicate events in the park.
In fact, this prominent siting is one of the greatest advantages of the building, and one that could be played up in future renovations with creative signage, perhaps even digital, to create a vibrant way-finding device for the park's growing activities. The hose tower acts as another marker, since it can be seen throughout the park and is often cited as a way to find the entry gate from the large expanses of sports fields, playgrounds, dog runs, and other corners of the site.