Members of the Puyallup Eagles Aerie No. 2308 are growing more and more concerned as the days pass that Sound Transit will end up constructing an estimated 500-stall parking garage on all three lots the group owns.
Larry Finnestad, an Eagles member since 1999, says originally when the Eagles were approached by Sound Transit, members told the agency the group was interested in relocating if it could find a space that didn’t require the Aerie to carry a mortgage.
“We said we would entertain an offer if we could stay here in the valley, and it would have to be turn-key ready,” Finnestad said.
Kimberly Reason, Sound Transit spokeswoman, said last week formal negotiations haven’t started with the Eagles, as the process hinges on the Sound Transit Board of Directors making the final vote at its Thursday (May 26) meeting.
“We’re in a holding pattern until the board authorizes negotiations,” Reason said.
Finnestad taught at Puyallup High School for 30 years, and says Sound Transit commuter traffic and routine traffic from PHS would cross over, making morning and afternoon traffic a nightmare.
“The parking garage would be right up against the high school,” Finnestad said. “It would impact the school district; it would effect everything.”
Bob Ainsworth, treasurer of the Eagles, told The Puyallup Herald in March the Aerie has hired consultants appraise the current building, and would cost upward of $6 million to replace.
“It would have to the same size building for us to do the same thing,” Ainsworth said.
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, Reason told The News Tribune last month.
The other leased lot is on the Eagles’ site and would be absorbed by the new garage and surface lot there, Reason said.
While Finnestad says the Eagles understand the importance of the garage, he says the Aerie is feeling ignored by Sound Transit.
“I’m tired of the government not listening to the people,” Finnestad said. “They don’t listen to our needs and wants. They use false information to get what they want.”
Most of the time, Sound Transit and property owners can come to a mutual agreement, Reason said.
“We will hopefully enter into a mutual agreement,” she said of the situation with the Eagles.
Finnestad and the Eagles are hoping the Board of Directors will listen to the group and find a different spot for the garage.
“This parking garage is just in the wrong place,” he said. “We want to stay where we’re at. Financially, this is going to cost us. No matter what, it’s a lose-lose for us and the school district.”