Seattle City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck
says he expects the Museum of History & Industry
to make maritime heritage "more than a token presence" at South Lake Union Park
if the museum takes over the Naval Reserve Building. To make that vision happen, he says he may hold MOHAI accountable for $1 million he says MOHAI owes the city.
Steinbrueck met with representatives from MOHAI and the Seattle Parks Foundation this week to discuss MOHAI's upcoming request to the city council to authorize negotiations with the city on a lease or purchase of the NRB for a new MOHAI facility. MOHAI announced last month
that it wants to move from McCurdy Park to SLUP. The museum will make a formal presentation to the council on Wednesday, August 16, at 2 p.m. The full council must approve a final agreement.
Steinbrueck told MOHAI and the Parks Foundation, which is working with MOHAI on the proposed move, that maritime heritage should be a key focus of the facility, and that it should incorporate the recommendations of the 2005 Seattle King County Maritime Heritage Task Force
. The city council has made it clear over the years that it expects South Lake Union Park to have a strong maritime heritage theme.
That maritime heritage focus, Steinbrueck says, should include an intact Wawona
. MOHAI and Northwest Seaport
, owner of the historic schooner, are working on a plan to dry berth Wawona for display at South Lake Union Park. The city has proposed "disposing and demolishing" the ship if it is not moved by Sept. 30. Pieces of the vessel would be saved, under the city's plan. However, I hear consistent rumors that the city has informally backed off that deadline, in part because it cannot obtain the needed permits by its self-imposed deadline. Talks about the vessel herself are ongoing.
Steinbrueck also asked the Parks Foundation for "flexibility" in its plans for the Park, complaining that the current plans, which don't include space for displaying Wawona on land, are overly rigid. Steinbrueck said the Foundation was receptive to the idea of revisions to the plan.
The councilmember said he will ask for an accounting of $1 million
he says MOHAI owes the city. In 2003, MOHAI purchased property from the convention center, which later became a temporary city central library while the new one, now open, was under construction. Included in the deal was an obligation to pay the city $2 million if MOHAI did not open a museum on the site by 2007. The obligation was reduced in 2004 to $1 million, but now that MOHAI has all but abandoned plans for the downtown location, Steinbrueck says he will use the obligation as leverage in discussions about the move to SLUP. "We're not going to just write the obligation off," Steinbrueck says.
What's your view? Is this the right thing for Steinbrueck to do? Should the obligation be forgiven? Intelligent anonymous comments are welcome. Screen names or real names preferred.