Bellevue turns away grant for earthquake safety
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
The federal and state governments want to give Bellevue $745,000 to help brace City Hall against earthquakes.
But the city won't take it.
While such money might seem like a welcome windfall, city officials say it comes with conditions that make it hard to accept.
The project would need to start within months, and the city would have to promise to stay in the current City Hall for 30 years if it accepted the grant, said Frank Pinney, manager of the facilities planning and development division in the city's finance department.
But the city has put a hold on the project to see if money could be better spent elsewhere, and an architectural firm is studying whether the city should build a new city hall elsewhere.
"It locks us in," Pinney said of the grant's terms.
Without comment, the City Council voted 7-0 Monday night to authorize the city manager to turn down the grant.
The returned money should be quickly snapped up by other governments on a waiting list for such grants, said Rob Harper, spokesman for the Emergency Management Division of the state Military Department.
"We're probably not going to be hard-pressed to find a worthy applicant," he said.
Even with the grant, the city would have needed to spend $306,000 of its own money on the $1.2 million project. The city has already spent $149,000.
The building already meets basic earthquake safety standards, Pinney said. The additional work would have steadied the building to keep windows from breaking, and enabled it to remain open and functioning after a major earthquake, he said.
The city has spent more than $2.9 million to complete earthquake retrofitting for other city buildings. City Hall is the only building left on the work list, Pinney said.
Warren Cornwall can be reached at 206-464-2311 or email@example.com.