Former Masonic Lodge will stay standing for now
The former Masonic Lodge building at Crescent Creek Park on is safe — for now — after the Gig Harbor City Council declined to vote Monday on a proposal to demolish it.
At a study session earlier this month, council members agreed that the building should be torn down. City staff members told the council that renovating the building enough to make it usable would cost at least $1.7 million.
But after an outcry from city residents at Monday’s meeting, the council unanimously reneged. Council members acknowledged that the city should take time to consider options for possible preservation and future use of the building.
Stephanie Lile, Executive Director of the Harbor History Museum, asked that the building be saved, citing its historical significance. Lile read a list of more than 50 names of founders and members of the Lodge.
“This list reads like a who’s who of local history,” Lile said. “To demolish the building is to erase history.”
Newly purchased plot to be called txʷaalqəł Conservation Area
The council voted 6-1 to name 40.5-acres of forested land along North Creek, acquired by the city last year, the txʷaalqəł Conservation Area. The Lushootseed word “txʷaalqəł” roughly translates to “place where game is found.”
The city purchased the land, also referred to as the North Creek Salmon Heritage Site, in three segments in 2022. It includes the site of the main village of the sxwəbabč band of the Puyallup Tribe. Tribal members supported the new name.
Councilmember Le Rodenberg voted against the name, preferring to call the property “Heritage Natural Preserve.”
The council also gave the go-ahead for the city to apply for a Pierce County Conservation Futures grant to acquire an additional 11.41-acre parcel directly north of txʷaalqəł Conservation Area.
Parks Director Jennifer Haro said the city is partnering with the Great Peninsula Conservancy on the grant application. The Gig Harbor Land Conservation Fund promised to raise the 10% match required to purchase the property.
According to Haro, the property “is of unique archeologic, ecological and historic landmark value.”
Once the city completes the purchase, the property would become part of the city’s parks system, she said.
The council will meet for a study session at 3 p.m. Thursday, May 25. The agenda includes a presentation about a state-supported Cultural Access Program, updates to the city’s Transportation Improvement Program, review of a proposed bond and an update on short term rentals. The meeting will take place in the community room at the Civic Center and via Zoom.
The next regular council meeting takes place June 12.