For the Daffodil Aerie Eagles, the organization’s building in downtown Puyallup is more than just a meeting place for members.
The Daffodil Aerie building, located at 202 5th Street Northwest, was purchased by the Eagles in 1955 and since has hosted children’s birthday parties, weddings and memorial services.
In November 2013, Eagles officials were contacted by Sound Transit to start talking about the possibility of building a Sounder parking garage where the building currently stands.
“We never intended to sell,” Eagles secretary Jerry Miller said. “We were interested in talking to them about the possibility to sell, but we were never interested in selling. They told us a lot of nice things about what they would do.”
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Miller and others told Sound Transit that if the club was to move, it would have to be to a location where they would have no mortgage, and would outright own the building.
We’ve had consultants come in and say it would be well over $6 million to replace our building. It would have to be the same size building to allow us to do the same thing.
Bob Ainsworth, Eagles treasurer
“We’ve had consultants come in and say it would be well over $6 million to replace our building,” treasurer Bob Ainsworth said. “It would have to be the same size building to allow us to do the same thing.”
Both Miller and Ainsworth say the mission of the Eagles is people helping people.
“What we donate to the community, a lot of it has stayed in the community,” Miller said. “We do food drives, Christmas presents for needy families, and we give out scholarships to high school students. We want to continue to do that, but if we’re forced to move and have to pay for a mortgage on a building, we won’t be able to continue. We want to continue doing what we’ve been doing for all these years.”
While Sound Transit officials have said the garage proposal is still in its early stages, officials are confident the Eagles can reach a resolution.
“Sound Transit is being so vague, and talk all the way around (buying the building and property) and won’t give us an answer,” Miller said. “I’m afraid we’ll end up with no building and no place for members to call their Aerie. I think Sound Transit will wind up with this building by eminent domain (the power of the state or national government to take private property for public use).”
Miller says the Eagles were supposed to have a decision by last month, but Sound Transit officials moved the decision to March. As of recently, Sound Transit changed it to the fall.
Don Billen, a Sound Transit project manager, told the Puyallup City Council last month that in most cases, Sound Transit is able to negotiate a settlement, according to a Feb. 25 story in The News Tribune.
“The Sound Transit board will have to make some decisions,” Billen said Feb. 25 at an open house in Puyallup where the agency began seeking public feedback.
At a meeting later that evening, Puyallup City Council members said some of the proposed improvements are “non-negotiable.”
Nearly 1,100 commuters board the Sounder train or an express bus in Puyallup each weekday, and the agency expects a 70 percent increase in ridership by 2035, according to the report.
The agency currently has a 364-stall surface lot near the station and leases two other lots with a total of 287 stalls nearby. One of those leased lots, which has 219 stalls near the Washington State Fairgrounds, would continue to be leased, Kimberly Reason, a Sound Transit spokeswoman, told The News Tribune.
The other leased lot is on the Eagles site and would be absorbed by the new garage and surface lot there, Reason said.
Billen agreed that fairness is required but added that a fair price for the existing property might not be enough money to cover the total costs of a new home for the Eagles.
“We cannot guarantee that there will be no cost to the Eagles fraternal lodge,” he said.
In hindsight, I wish we would have said no in the beginning. I don’t think (Sound Transit has) been honest with us. We don’t want to lose this facility.
Jerry Miller, Puyallup Eagles secretary
“In hindsight, I wish we would have said no in the beginning,” Miller added. “I don’t think (Sound Transit has) been honest with us. We don’t want to lose this facility.”