FELIKS BANEL

State AG Ferguson seeks compromise on Seattle National Archives closure

Mar 24, 2020, 6:20 AM
National Archives Seattle...
The National Archives in Seattle. (NationalArchives.gov)
(NationalArchives.gov)

A compromise brokered by State Attorney General Bob Ferguson might keep the regional facility of the National Archives here in Washington – if not necessarily in Seattle – after all.

In February, Ferguson threatened to sue the federal government if the Office of Management and Budget didn’t reverse its abrupt decision — without public or other stakeholder input — to close the National Archives in Seattle’s Sand Point neighborhood, sell the building, and move regional historical materials to California and other federal administrative records to Missouri.

The Seattle facility had been targeted for closure and sale as an “under-utilized” and “high-value asset” by an obscure federal agency called the Public Buildings Reform Board.

On March 5, Ferguson sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought seeking a compromise that would allow the sale of the building and 10-acre parcel to go forward, but that would co-locate the materials – priceless photos, documents and maps related to the history of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska – in an existing state or other archival facility.

In response to Ferguson’s letter, a preliminary meeting took place last week between his staff and representatives of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to explore other options besides moving those materials out of state. Ferguson then sent a follow-up letter on Monday, March 23 seeking specific details about NARA’s space and other storage requirements.

Late Monday, Ferguson told KIRO Radio that once he has more information from NARA, he hopes to make a formal proposal to the federal government sometime in April, but that this timeline may change given the challenges created by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“A lot’s going on with, obviously, a public health crisis right now, so I want to cut a little slack to other governmental agencies,” Ferguson said. “But my hope is they’ll respond to our most recent short letter asking for information relatively soon, because that will help us craft a proposal.”

The proposal, which Ferguson acknowledges is only in a preliminary stage, would require a commitment for federal funding to build a new facility or to expand an existing one, perhaps managed by a state or other agency already caring for archival materials.

The facility would also require federal funding for ongoing support for staffing and operations as well. Ferguson says a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Sand Point facility and a dozen or so other federal properties would fund what he has in mind.

One possible location mentioned in Ferguson’s March 5 letter is Olympia, where the Washington State Archives are housed, and where current plans call for renovation and expansion of the state facility.

Under Ferguson’s preliminary proposal, other non-historical federal materials also currently stored at Sand Point – and generally of little interest to historians, tribes, genealogists, and other National Archives patrons – would still be allowed to be moved by NARA to Missouri.

The Attorney General said that he remains committed to keeping the archival materials in Washington. While he’s hopeful a solution can be achieved without going to court, Ferguson has not ruled out legal action should compromise efforts fail.

“The complaint is certainly ready to go, and I’m quite serious that if I feel the negotiations are not moving in the direction that I feel are necessary, I will not hesitate to file that lawsuit,” Ferguson said.

You can hear Feliks every Wednesday and Friday morning on Seattle’s Morning News and read more from him here. If you have a story idea, please email Feliks here.

Feliks Banel

Danville Washington...
Feliks Banel

All Over The Map: Tiny Washington town of Danville eagerly awaits reopening of border

Point Roberts has gotten much of the attention during the extended border closure, but it’s not the only town that’s been suffering economically.
1 day ago
Memorial Stadium...
Feliks Banel

Could landmark designation save Seattle’s Memorial Stadium from demolition?

As it turns out, saving Seattle's Memorial Stadium from demolition may not be just some pedantic argument or splitting of historic preservation hairs.
3 days ago
Zune...
Feliks Banel

All Over The Map: How – and why – did Microsoft ‘Name That Zune’?

We know now it couldn’t beat the iPod, but where and how did Microsoft get the name for its gone-but-not-forgotten Zune media player?
8 days ago
railroad...
Feliks Banel

Priceless archive keeps the history of Pacific Northwest trains running

A unique partnership devoted to Northwest railroad history means an incredible archive of photos and documents is being preserved and made accessible.
10 days ago
Roosevelt Highway...
Feliks Banel

All Over The Map: Ghosts of the Roosevelt Highway in Washington state

For most of the 1920s and well into the 1930s, part of the long-forgotten Roosevelt Highway traveled through the Evergreen State.
15 days ago
MJ McDermott...
Feliks Banel

Beloved kids’ show host turned meteorologist M.J. McDermott hangs up her barometer

When meteorologist M.J. McDermott retires this week from Channel 13, not many people will remember her early years hosting a kids' show.
17 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
State AG Ferguson seeks compromise on Seattle National Archives closure