Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Cedar Valley Shuffle

In March of 2001, I arrived in the midst of an on-going negotiation between the City of Lynnwood and the Edmonds School District. The City had agreed to enter into an interlocal agreement (ILA) with the District to expand their gymnasium at Cedar Valley Elementary and the City was to pay the additional costs for doing so. It seemed like a great use of public funds; the District gets the advantage of a larger gym for their students while sharing maintenance costs and the City gets exclusive access after hours without having to buy land, build infrastructure or put in parking to endow its residents with a great facility.

Here’s the kicker: The entire negotiations were hanging for months around the parking situation. The City of Lynnwood agreed to pay for all of the additional square footage of the gymnasium (less than one third of the total square footage) but did not want to pay for all of the additional parking that was required under their own city ordinance.

Sure, you might be a common, average person and think, “Well why doesn’t the City just waive the requirement or grant some sort of Conditional Use Permit for the school to have fewer parking stalls?” A common, average person might just think that. I did, for a while at least.

Then I started thinking that maybe the City wanted the District to consume their site and expand Cedar Valley’s footprint to prevent other development opportunities from happening. I also started thinking that maybe the City wanted all of the additional parking for their own use but they were just too cheap to pay for it. After all, Lynnwood seems overly interested in businesses and less interested in their residents. Cedar Valley started looking like a great venue for some serious City programming. The sort of programming that generates the money they love to collect.

Under relentless pressure from my supervisor, great strides were being made in convincing the City that the additional parking that was triggered by their additional square footage in the gym should actually be covered by them. The Parks Director was starting to see things from the District’s perspective. It was made abundantly clear and Lynnwood’s City Council was on the cusp of approving payment for the parking.

Then District leadership stepped in and put an end to the discussion. One could only surmise that the District had grown tired of counting money. While District leadership might have been trying to get a good seat in the City’s pocket, they actually ended up stuck to the bottom of the City’s shoe.

Mark Zandberg, Moderator
Former Planning and Property Management Specialist
March 2001 - June 2007


Anonymous said...

I heard that the reason the district dropped the re-imbursement request was because the original negotiator didn't bother to put anything in writing. Then the Lynnwood lawyers got a hold of it and said no agreement was ever made. So how much did that truly cost the district (legal fees, interest, on-going maintenance)?

ESD15-The Outrage said...

The City of Lynnwwod got a fantastic deal...they pay nothing more...ever. No utilitites, no maintenance or custodial fees. Nothing. And the school itself gets to use the gymanisum only ONE evening per month for its own activities. This was a ridiculous agreement at any level. said...

I have sent them bills every year and to my knowledge, they have never paid. They even went as far as to criticize the format I was using and I reworked the spreadsheet twice.

Maybe they pay in unmarked bills behind the ESC after dark.


Anonymous said...

Maybe that is some of the money that a former bookkeeper embezzled. Hmmm.... wasn't it the same auditor and district management as now? And the most recent audit still shows cash handling findings? Why do the supervisor, manager, and assistant superintendent still have their jobs?

The district's records were so screwed up that they couldn't even prove she took more than the $150K she was charged with.

Anonymous said...

She was so highly regarded . I used to deal with her on a daily basis. For the record, I would like to say, I was considered a"nobody", still am today, and I knew in my dealings with her, that there was a loose screw back in the 90's. Her handeling of district receipts was beyond belief. I could not have been the only person that listened to her booking her next flight to Mexico.