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City Council Agrees to Let Harbor History Museum Study Future of Old Masonic Lodge

The Gig Harbor City Council has reached a consensus to collaborate with the Harbor History Museum to explore potential futures for the historic Masonic Lodge situated near Crescent Creek Park. On October 23, the council sanctioned an agreement that authorizes the museum to carry out surveys to assess the viability of transforming the building into an event center. Additionally, the museum is tasked with developing preliminary plans, cost evaluations, and identifying potential funding sources for any refurbishment endeavors. This agreement is set to last until July 13, 2024, with the option for termination by either party given a 30-day notice.

Constructed in 1915 as the Crescent Valley School, the building was later acquired and remodeled by the Masons in 1947. The city took ownership in 2017, and since then, the lodge has been largely unoccupied, except for a preschool that rents space in the basement. Earlier in the year, the council contemplated demolishing the structure, but public opposition led to a suspension of those plans, allowing the museum and community members to devise a strategy to preserve and utilize the lodge.

Stephanie Lile, the museum’s Executive Director, emphasized the museum’s commitment to historic preservation and mentioned plans to convene a community group to envision a new purpose for the lodge. The museum intends to conduct an online survey and possibly host public meetings to measure community interest.

In financial matters, Finance Director Dave Rodenbach presented a mid-biennial review of the city’s 2023-24 budget, noting a decline in general fund revenues by nearly $400,000 compared to 2022, with development permits experiencing significant reductions. Sales tax revenues have also decreased by approximately 3 percent. As a result, the city has left several staff positions vacant to manage the budget shortfall.

Among the significant expenses is a $2.2 million upgrade to the HVAC system at the Civic Center, which is deemed essential. The council is considering options to finance this project, including direct payment or bond issuance.

In other council activities, Adam Moutaftsis was sworn in as the newest police officer, and a proclamation was read declaring October 23-27 as Police Appreciation Week. The council’s upcoming schedule includes a virtual study session and a business listening session, with the next regular meeting slated for November 13.

Source: gigharbornow

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