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Sunnyside city manager appeals county plan to establish district court in Grandview

Sunnyside City Manager Bob Stockwell's first comment this past Wednesday, when asked his reaction to Grandview being selected as the site for a Lower Valley District Court, was:

"Well, it was a disappointment. They (the judges) never even came back to discuss elements of the proposal. It's too bad it won't be centrally located in the area it is going to serve."

In a letter yesterday to Harold Delia, administrator of Yakima County District Court, Stockwell took a firmer stance, objecting to the location and claiming that "The Court did not attempt to seek clarification on any elements of the City's proposal, or to negotiate any of the terms of the proposed lease."

Stockwell further wrote that he was asking the County Commission to "delay any action on approving the lease in Grandview to allow us an opportunity to examine the details of the proposed lease".

He also requested access to all documentation relating to the initial requirements and analysis of the proposals from both cities and from the developer of the building in Grandview.

In his protest to Delia, Stockwell cited figures for a 20-year lease that, he said, would have brought Sunnyside's initial five-year proposal more into line with the $546,075 for five years that Grandview offered.

Sunnyside's proposal hinged on the construction of an addition to the city's Law and Justice Center, which would have cost the County $2,022,010, in addition to $70,000 a year in rent.

When Delia announced on Oct. 19 that Grandview would be the site for the return of District Court to the Lower Valley, after an eight-year absence, he said the judges' choice was clear cut. "We didn't have $2 million."

This morning (Friday) Delia said when the judges carried that message to the City of Sunnyside, they also invited them to call to discuss it, if they wanted to.

"I didn't get a call back," said Delia.

Stockwell did say a 20-year plan still would have cost $751 a month more than Grandview's.

"The Court Administrator (Delia) had a few off handed discussions with our police chief, who had the impression that there would be real negotiations, since he knew he could not negotiate on the city's behalf," Stockwell wrote in his letter to Delia.

Stockwell further objected, writing Delia that Sunnyside's proposal had met all the conditions that had been given.

"It was clear," Stockwell wrote, "that the Court did not intend to bind itself beyond five years, yet we are now told that they are entering a 10-year lease in Grandview."

He added that a construction or major remodel requires a cash investment, but, if the potential tenant commits to only five years, the bulk of the cost of improvements must be recovered in the first five years.

"However, with a few changes to the floor plan and with the ability to amortize the costs over 10 years instead of five years, we could have reduced the lease cost significantly, as did the private developer in Grandview," Stockwell informed Delia in his letter of October 20th.

This morning Delia said he thought the decision was made in a fair manner.

"It was measuring apples against apples," said Delia, explaining that the decision-making involved projecting Sunnyside's five-year proposal over an 11-year period to match Grandview's 11-year proposal.

Although announcement of the award to Grandview was made by Delia and Judge McCarthy Thursday, the Yakima County Commissioners still have to approve the Grandview lease, which they are expected to do Tuesday, Oct. 25.

"They were excited about the Grandview location, and my assumption is that they're going to be very supportive of our decision," said Delia.

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