$1,000 buys old Coupeville fire station
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
August 13, 2010 · Updated 12:35 PM
A dilapidated historic building in Coupeville could get a new lease on life.
Despite concerns of an easy out, the Coupeville Town Council unanimously approved Tuesday evening selling the old fire hall to the Ware family, based out of Lynden.
Even though the Town Council accepted a paltry sum of $1,000, the Council accepted the bid with the understanding the building will be rehabilitated. In fact, the family agreed to rehabilitate the building over a 90-day period.
The old fire hall, nestled between the Coupeville Recreation Hall and Mariner’s Cove on Alexander Street, has been vacant for years. It was built in 1937 and it was big enough to house two engines. It was used as a fire station until the 1960s when it was transformed into a museum. The doors on the front of the building were transformed into windows. It was used for storage by the town of Coupeville until several years ago.
The town received three proposals for the fire hall. When officials put the building on the market, they did so with the intention that the building be rehabilitated and would also provide restrooms for public use.
Besides the winning Ware family, Jerry Saia offered to pay $2,500 and he would also restore the building and offer public restrooms. However, he wanted to conduct a 30-day feasibility study to figure out a use for the structure. The third proposal was submitted by Max Hermann. He offered $5,000 but also didn’t guarantee use of the public restrooms and wanted 90 days to conduct a feasibility study.
Mayor Nancy Conard noted the town accepted the lowest offer, but felt it was in the town’s best interests. The other offers included feasibility studies, which concerned the council members.
“The money was never the issue. It was about getting the building rehabbed,” Conard said after the meeting.
Council members were concerned about language in the agreement that gives the Ware family five days to back out of the deal if the town’s Design Review Board places conditions on the renovation that would be too onerous for the project to move forward.
“I’m surprised there is an out in it,” Councilwoman Molly Hughes said during Tuesday’s council meeting.
Conard said the preliminary plans show there shouldn’t be an issue with Design Review Board approval, noting talks have included people from Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve about the building’s historic integrity.
She added the building doesn’t meet seismic codes and the framing inside the building needs to be replaced.
The building is listed as a contributing structure on the National Register of historic places.
“We think it’s great to see this building rehabbed for new uses,” said Mark Preiss, manager of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, adding that a tenant in the building will provide more economic activity for Coupeville’s historic business district.
Despite attempts at contact, officials from the Ware family didn’t comment.
Councilmembers Hughes, Bob Clay and Ann Dannhauer voted for the sale while Tom Tack and Dianne Binder were absent.
Conard said if the deal falls through, then staff will contact the other two people who made proposals for the building.Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.