The members of Eagles Aerie 2308 in Puyallup voted on Saturday to reject a Sound Transit appraised value offer for the Eagles building located at 202 5th St NW.
Sound Transit aims to acquire the property to build a 500-stall parking garage as part of its $60 million Puyallup Station Improvements project.
Eagles spokesman Alan Whipple said that the offer made by Sound Transit was inadequate.
“It was a unanimous rejection of their offer,” said Whipple, who declined to disclose the amount of the offer.
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It was a unanimous rejection of their offer.
Alan Whipple, chairman of the Puyallup Eagles Relocation Committee
About 125 members were present for the vote, including the Eagles board members. There are about 3,000 Eagles members in the organization, which is the second largest Eagles group on the West Coast.
Sound Transit would not comment on the offer, but Eagles members said the offer was far below the appraised value of their building, and would make it difficult to find a replacement building.
“If we’re going to move, we have to have enough money to do it or else they’ve effectively put the Puyallup Eagles out of business,” Eagles Auxiliary Past Madam President Shireen Ainsworth said.
Ainsworth and several other members of the auxiliary led a “peaceful protest” outside Puyallup City Hall on Sept. 12 to raise awareness about the situation. Signs held by members read, “Don’t let Sound Transit get rid of Puyallup Eagles!” and “Sound Transit taking over our city!”
Ainsworth’s husband, Bob, said at the protest that it was likely the group would reject Sound Transit’s offer. A member of the relocation committee, which used to be a general advisory committee, Bob said that the Puyallup City Council has supported the Eagles in the past.
“We like the idea of having the City Council at our backs, supporting us,” he said.
Auxiliary Madam President Carol Walther and Eagles President Gary Plumb spoke at the Sept. 12 City Council meeting, asking the Council for answers. Plumb said the group has looked at more than 35 locations and have made offers on six of them.
“We find ourselves in fear of losing our home,” Walther told the Council.
In a 2014 letter to the Sound Transit Board of Directors, the Council supported a new garage on the Eagles site, but stated that “... the City would not favor any use of condemnation in that property purchase.”
But Sound Transit took legal action toward condemning the Eagles building over the summer. A petition filed July 20 asks for an order that would allow the agency to take control over the property.
Now that the Eagles voted to reject Sound Transit’s offer, Sound Transit spokesperson Rachelle Cunningham said that the condemnation process would move forward, with ongoing mediation. A court hearing is set for next July, Whipple said.
The city does not plan to release a new statement.
At this time we do not have any plans to issue a new statement in this matter due to the fact that the eminent domain action has been filed and this matter is now in litigation. We do not want to interfere with the legal process that has been commenced.
Joseph Beck, Puyallup city attorney
“At this time we do not have any plans to issue a new statement in this matter due to the fact that the eminent domain action has been filed and this matter is now in litigation,” Puyallup City Attorney Joseph Beck said. “We do not want to interfere with the legal process that has been commenced.”
In the meantime, the Eagles will get back to the negotiating table and the search for a new property, Whipple said. Already, the group has looked at property in the Puyallup Valley that’s both for sale and not for sale, trying to find a place with enough parking and square footage to fit its needs.
Offers have been made on other buildings without success.
“As far as where we go from here, we continue to try to find a new home,” Whipple said.
The Eagles are also looking into mergers with other local fraternities.
“Maybe a merger would help,” Whipple said. “It would maybe breathe life into some of them.”