Letter to the Editor: Linda Carlson
The June 6 meeting with council officials regarding Parkland School confirmed what Parkland School alumni and supporters feared: what Pacific Lutheran University wants, it gets. Does what the community want matter? No way, no how.
We learn that for at least two years PLU has been quietly—let’s be honest and say “sneakily”—working with the county to remove this turn-of-the-century building and its 1937 Works Progress Administration addition from any landmark status so it can be destroyed. Obviously, there were university staffers who knew Parkland School was important to the community, and they have been devious in avoiding any public discussion of options that include retention of the structure.
Why is this happening? Five letters: M-O-N-E-Y. It’s no secret that PLU is cash-strapped, and is selling off properties, including the Gonyea estate, donated to the college for the president’s residence and now destined to be a housing tract.
Lots of talk at the June 6 meeting regarding how many upgrades the building needs to eliminate asbestos and lead paint and to provide ADA access. Of course, PLU found the dollars to provide all of these upgrades for secluded Harstad Hall…but not a chance that it will invest one red cent in a far more visible landmark, one that serves as a portal to the Parkland community.
I no longer live in Parkland, but I drive Pacific Avenue frequently, and am overwhelmed at how seedy the route has become: tattoo parlors, nail joints, pawn shops, fast food outlets. Parkland School, Parkland Lutheran Church and School are among the few attractive structures.
Undoubtedly, PLU will claim that its Garfield Station project and the proposed five-story apartment complex will revive the neighborhood—but how? It’s hard to patronize the merchants along Garfield, even the post office, due to parking spots being dominated by the students who live in the PLU apartments. Too many of the long-time businesses owned by neighborhood residents are gone—or going.
Destroying this building represents total disregard for what it means to the community, to architectural and school historians everywhere who value examples of early 20th century school architecture, and to local historians, who recognize it as one of the last vestiges of the origins of the Franklin Pierce School District. As a Parkland School graduate, I’m infuriated. As for those of you who do live in Parkland or are targeted by PLU’s fundraising appeals, I hope you’ll respond by pointing out to the university that it has betrayed the community and that it deserves nothing from you.
Now retired to Sequim