Burien has three new councilmembers —Sofia Aragon, Cydney Moore, and Kevin Schilling—and they started their terms, and their very first Council meeting, with one of the toughest situations the City has faced in the last few years. On December 9, 2020, the City announced it was closing the Burien Community Center Annex, a building the City of Burien has owned since 1993, because inspections found City Manager to extend the leases for tenants of the Burien Annex Building until the end of July 2020, with the option of a month-to-month lease up to July 2020. This decision was made after a lengthy discussion and consideration of the significant amount of public feedback received.
The Annex is more than simply a public building. It is home to seven nonprofits that provide vital services to the community, including arts significant concerns with the structural integrity of the building.
On January 6, 2020, we directed the city manager to engage in further testing for pollutants in the facility.
On January 17, 2020, we convened an emergency meeting to discuss the results of that testing. After reviewing results of that testing we directed the performances and programming, services and programs for children and families, meals and programs for seniors, and essential services for people experiencing homelessness. As a Council, we recognize the value these organizations bring to the community. Many of these organizations have received funding through the City of Burien Human Services Fund and Arts and Culture grants, as well as steeply discounted rent, for years.
However, we also have a duty to make sure we are protecting the safety of our residents and the City’s long-term financial health.
During the emergency meeting, we directed the City staff to conduct repairs to address immediate health and safety issues in the buildings, but to not exceed $25,000 unless Council authorizes the repairs. The long-term plans for the facility will be explored in the coming year.
While there has been some success in finding help for the organizations affected by the closure (see City Manager’s message), all of these organizations could use the community’s support as they weather this difficult transition. As councilmembers, we will do what we can to provide support for these organizations.