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Nonprofit lists Trafton among state's 'most endangered' properties

The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has listed Trafton School as one of its
The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has listed Trafton School as one of its 'most endangered' properties.
— image credit: Adam Rudnick

ARLINGTON — An organization dedicated to preserving Washington's historic places has deemed Trafton School among its "most endangered" properties of 2010.

On Wednesday, June 2, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation released its annual list of properties, which is intended to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities facing each of the locations, said Chris Moore of the Seattle-based nonprofit.

"The hope is that Trafton will remain open and continue to serve the community as it has for over 120 years," Moore said in a release.

The Arlington School District is currently facing between a $1.6 million and $1.8 million shortfall, as well as district-wide under-enrollment next school year.

To cut costs and help cut down on under-enrollment, the School Board has been soliciting input from the community as to whether the district should close Trafton.

Closing the school would save the district approximately $275,000 in operations costs, school district officials have said.

The Board will vote June 14 whether to close the school. Trafton is the oldest continuously operated school in Washington, and originally opened its doors in 1888.

Arlington School District spokeswoman Misti Gilman said the school was nominated for the organization's list by a Trafton parent, not by the school district.

Gilman said that the district does not believe the building is endangered, adding that the trust did not contact the district for information or invite it to comment on the nomination before the trust made its decision.

Moore, who addressed the Board May 24 during the second of two public hearings regarding Trafton's possible closure, met with Superintendent Kris McDuffy and a member of the Keep Trafton Alive group the week after that hearing, Gilman said.

"During the meeting the Washington Trust representative indicated they still plan to be available to the district to provide recommendations on preserving the historic integrity of the building should the educational program be discontinued here," she said.

In numerous instances, a building being given "Most Endangered" status has "worked to facilitate solutions that promote the historic significance of sites while retaining important resources as viable, functional components of our neighborhoods and communities," Moore said.

Trafton School is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Washington Heritage Register.

The School Board in March approved an official review of Trafton take place to see whether closing the school would be a viable option.

Since then, Members of the Keep Trafton Alive community group have refuted a district report that stated that the school would require approximately $1 million to bring it up to standard.

During two public hearings on May 14 and 28, community members, families and former students have pleaded with the Board to keep the school open.

Additionally, McDuffy, school district administrators and School Board members have made public more than 50 letters and e-mails — about half in favor and half opposed — to the Board closing the school.

The Washington Trust's list of endangered properties also included Coke Oven Park in Wilkeson, a town in eastern Pierce County, the Moran School Administration Building on Bainbridge Island, the Murray and Rosa Morgan House in Auburn, the Quad 7 Hanger (West Coast Airlines Hanger) at Boeing Field in King County, the National Historic District in Roslyn and the Skykomish Hotel in Skykomish.

The Washington Trust has identified more than 100 "endangered" properties since 1992.

The organization was founded in 1976.

The Arlington School Board meeting will take place at 6 p.m. June 14 at the district administration building, located at 315 N. French Street.

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