Major Developments on the Horizon in Concrete —

Major Developments on the Horizon in Concrete

Skagit Valley Herald

CONCRETE — After years of not being able to come up with enough cash, town officials are giving up on restoring the historic Superior Building.

"I've given up on saving the building," Concrete Mayor Jason Miller said. "It's toast, and days are numbered now."

Town Clerk Andrea Fichter said staff are talking with a demolition company about how to move forward.

Miller started lobbying to save the historic building — a crumbling cement structure on Main Street — long before running for office. He is not happy to see it go.

"It is extremely disappointing. It is an urban tragedy, nothing less," he said. "That building is the last town-owned building that speaks to that part of our heritage. It's going to go away and we will never reclaim it."

The building was constructed to be part of the town's cement manufacturing operations in the early 1900s. It has been unoccupied for decades.

The town tried more than once to raise funds to save it, but little cash came in.

In 2014 and 2015 the town talked about sealing the building to prevent further decay while continuing to pursue renovation money. That effort lost steam in the spring.

Although some would have liked to see the old building saved, the town is already drafting a new vision for the land around it.

Town officials would like to build a hub for public and tourist services there. It would be next to the new Fire and Life Safety Building.

"That should be the municipal hub," Fichter said.

Miller and Fichter have said the area could feature a rest area with benches, and an information center to direct visitors into town or farther into the North Cascades.

The town also is planning changes for the greater Silo Park area, which features the town's "Welcome to Concrete" silos from one of the original cement plants and includes the potential visitors' center/municipal hub area where the Superior Building is located.

"It's a killing two birds with one stone kind of thing," Miller said. "It would create kind of a unity of community government, and having a visitors' center would really tie in our plans to revamp Silo Park, which is a major redevelopment project."

Although the town plans to knock down the Superior Building and redevelop Silo Park, preserving local history remains important.

Miller said the town plans to keep the safety monument that Superior Portland Cement Company installed decades ago, and preserve the 2009 time capsule buried near it.

The monuments recognized the company's safety accomplishments, Miller said.

For Silo Park, the town's initial plan is to build a spray park.

The town was awarded about $199,000 toward the project design from the state Recreation and Conservation Office's portion of the recently revived Land and Water Conservation Fund.

According to the grant application, the spray park project will also include building a drinking fountain, restrooms, picnic tables and pathways at the park.

"With this development, the town hopes to increase the amount of outdoor recreational opportunities it offers, encourage its residents to participate in more outdoor activities, and increase tourism," the application states.

The spray park concept garnered much community support.

Construction is expected to begin this spring and may be complete by the summer of 2017.

The town envisions eventually adding a Park and Ride, new town hall, and additional recreation opportunities such as a zip line or climbing wall at the park or in the surrounding area.

"The future expansion of this park is a continuing discussion ... The Water Spray Park will be the first phase of the expansion," according to the grant application.

The town took ownership of the 10.23-acre property in 1994. The company that owned the land donated it to the town with the understanding that it would be used for a public park and recreation purposes, according to Skagit County property records.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVHFacebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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