A couple months ago, the Aberdeen City Council voted to stop discussions on the Gateway Center, and now the council has made another step away from the capital project.
The project would have cost roughly $14.9 million. Construction on it was supposed to start sometime in 2023 or 2024.
Aberdeen City Council voted Wednesday for $7 million to be uncommitted from the capital project. The project was supposed to help welcome tourists to Aberdeen. The center, which has been discussed since 2013, was supposed to allow visitors to get information about the city, provide a business incubator and a variety of other things.
The $7 million that was uncommitted was from the insurance settlement the city received for the 2018 fire that destroyed the former Aberdeen Museum of History.
Patricia Soule, finance director for the city of Aberdeen, said Thursday morning, the $7 million that is being uncommitted was because of the city council’s vote to put the Gateway Center on hold “long-term.”
She explained why the funds are being uncommitted.
“Having funds committed to an inactive project creates a barrier if use is determined needed by council for other priorities,” Soule said.
The $7 million is sitting in the city’s general fund uncommitted and unbudgeted, Soule said.
“So, it can’t be used unless council votes to move it — via an ordinance — into budgeted cash for use on an approved expenditure,” Soule said.
Now, how the money can be used, that’s up to the city council and how it votes.
“At this time, I am unaware of any commitment pending at this point,” Soule said.
Back in early August, Aberdeen Mayor Pete Schave told The Daily World the project could be pushed out a couple additional years before it’s back at the top, or near the top of the priority list, because of the North Shore Levee project.
Dee Anne Shaw, Ward 6 Position 12 council member, said after the city council voted to “suspend” the talks, she’s not surprised the city council came to the conclusion to decommit the funds. She also hopes Gateway gets back to being discussed.
“It should have been done by now and unfortunately, the climate for it seems to have shifted,” Shaw said. “I saw the Gateway as part of our economic revitalization, but reality is that a project like the Gateway has a better chance of getting built during more favorable economic times. We have a complete set of plans, so there’s that. The North Shore Levee is still our No. 1 economic development project. Success in any of our other endeavors that we’ve been debating hinges on the levee, so I’m grateful that the entire council is united in that effort.”