State Secretary of State Kim Wyman shows off the 1962 State Archive building. The pipe above her head has leaked water in the past. (Emma Scher/WNPA Olympia News Bureau)

State Secretary of State Kim Wyman shows off the 1962 State Archive building. The pipe above her head has leaked water in the past. (Emma Scher/WNPA Olympia News Bureau)

Secretary of State seeks funds for new archives building

  • By Emma Scher WNPA Olympia News Bureau
  • Wednesday, February 6, 2019 2:18pm
  • News

By Emma Scher

WNPA Olympia News Bureau

OLYMPIA — In the Washington State Archives building, records are tightly packed in shelves, file boxes and leather-bound books so large they look like they belong in a Hogwarts library.

Some records stored in this building are older than the state itself.

But these records are at risk of damage due to poor infrastructure that has led to leaks and flooding in the building.

Funding for a new archives building is at the top of the state Secretary of State’s legislative agenda this session.

A new building would cost about $108 million to design and finance, and Wyman’s office is asking the Legislature to grant a certificate of participation to pay off the building in increments. According to the state Treasurer’s Office, the agreement is similar to a lease-to-own, so the cost of the building will be paid off over time.

“If the Legislature said ‘go’ we’d hopefully be breaking ground by the end of this year,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “We’re ready to go we’re just waiting for the green light.”

A certificate of participation requires approval in the capital budget. State Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Port Townsend, House Capital Budget Committee chair, declined to comment on whether the Secretary of State’s request is on the committee’s radar for this biennial budget.

Wyman said the issue has been raised for years and the risk needs to be addressed immediately.

The building has had four water leakage or flooding incidents in the past nine years.

The current State Archives building is 57 years old has been at capacity since 2006. Storage takes up 238,000 cubic feet of space. Many of the storage rooms lack modern fire suppression and flood management systems.

The building’s “disaster recovery equipment” consists largely of mops, buckets and water vacuums.

“We have a lot of security and controls to protect the records but the thing that is working against us is nature and the design of this building,” Wyman said. “We’re talking about the state’s history.”

The most recent incident was in April 2014, when a water line broke on a Monday morning while the office was still empty. Employees came in to find the facility’s research room under two inches of water.

The water leaked through the floor and into the records rooms the floor below. In preparation of future incidents, staff placed markers on the floor where water had leaked.

The dots mark spots, “where we had waterfalls, so in the future we know where to put the buckets to start the process,” Wyman said while giving a tour of the facility.

So far, no records have been lost in the leakage, fire or flood incidents.

________

This story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State Legislature provided through a reporting internship sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation.

Bound volumes are county records stored in the State Archives building. Records have been damaged by water, but none were completely lost in the incidents. (Emma Scher/WNPA Olympia News Bureau)

Bound volumes are county records stored in the State Archives building. Records have been damaged by water, but none were completely lost in the incidents. (Emma Scher/WNPA Olympia News Bureau)

Dots mark areas where piping has leaked in the past. According to state Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the markers are to show where to “put the buckets” if leakages occur again. (Emma Scher/WNPA Olympia News Bureau)

Dots mark areas where piping has leaked in the past. According to state Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the markers are to show where to “put the buckets” if leakages occur again. (Emma Scher/WNPA Olympia News Bureau)

More in News

Able seamen Doug Reader, front, and Brandon Melville drive forklifts as they offload equipment from the ferry MV Coho after its return to Port Angeles from annual dry dock maintenance in Anacortes on Wednesday. The ferry is scheduled to resume regular service between Port Angeles and Victoria today. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Preparing for service

Able seamen Doug Reader, front, and Brandon Melville drive forklifts as they… Continue reading

Dr. Suzanne Ames.
Peninsula College adapting to next generation of students

Aim is to engage, meet workforce needs

Officials: Combine Simdars, Johnson Creek road projects

Clallam County, Sequim, tribe urge coordination

The Swiftsure, a whale-watching tour boat operated by Port Townsend-based Puget Sound Express, is the first vessel to take advantage of the early reopening of the Point Hudson Marina on Wednesday after four months of closure to rebuild its north jetty. The marina will close again after the Wooden Boat Festival ends Sept. 10, when rebuilding the south jetty will start with a scheduled re-opening in March 2024. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Point Hudson marina reopens

The Swiftsure, a whale-watching tour boat operated by Port Townsend-based Puget Sound… Continue reading

Amy Miller has been appointed to a seat on the Port Angeles City Council to fill a seat vacated by Mike French, who resigned to become a Clallam County commissioner. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Amy Miller tapped for Port Angeles City Council

Appointee fills seat vacated by Mike French

The MV Coho, pictured in dry dock at the Anacortes Ship Yards, will be back in service Thursday. Yearly maintenance began Jan. 3. The maintenance is taking a few days longer due to COVID-19 the past two years, Black Ball Ferry Line officials have said. The ship returns to twice-daily round trips across the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Victoria and Port Angeles at 8:20 a.m. Thursday. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
Coho maintenance

The MV Coho, pictured in dry dock at the Anacortes Ship Yards,… Continue reading

East Jefferson Fire Rescue town halls focus on lid lift

Ballot measure to go before voters on Feb. 14

Planning work priorities to be discussed

Jefferson County’s Board of County Commissioners and its Planning… Continue reading

Trimming an Italian plum, gleaners Scott Swantner, left, Seth Rolland and Tim Lawson devote their Sunday to trimming and pruning the Blue Heron orchard at Blue Heron Middle School in Port Townsend, to promote growth and health of the fruit trees, some of which were planted in 2010. The fruit goes to the school and is available to students. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Pruning fruit trees

Trimming an Italian plum, gleaners Scott Swantner, left, Seth Rolland and Tim… Continue reading

Most Read