The City Hall Advisory Committee met for the first time Wednesday night. It was clear from the beginning that they have a big job ahead of them and not a lot of time to do it in.
“We want to bring you with a clean sheet of paper this time, and not provide you with something that was conceptually designed,” City Manager Scott Hugill said.
This is not the first time the city has proposed a new City Hall, but the past three attempts to pass a bill to fund the new building were not approved by voters.
That’s where the new Advisory Committee comes in. They will meet and discuss space needs and options for the new building to come up with a plan that voters may be willing to pass.
The nine-member team shared similar goals for the new City Hall–they want a building that could be described as frugal, cost-effective and something voters will gladly approve.
“We also need to consider, not only what our needs are today, but what our plans are for the future and for growth,” Committee Chair Linda Rogers said.
To determine those constraints, the committee will meet with various city departments, possibly tour other city halls nearby and participate in the selection of an architect.
Right now, the goal of this committee is to reach a budget and agree on what size the building should be. Those numbers will appear on a ballot measure later this year, likely in November. Design and further details will not be discussed until the size and budget measure passes.
A diverse group of committee members was selected by the Mountlake Terrace City Council in December with the hope that varying opinions will help create a building that residents will support. Members have been living in Mountlake Terrace for anywhere from two to nearly 24 years. They reside in all areas of town, from Town Center to Melody Hill to Gateway, among other neighborhoods. Some are retired, some work in real estate, some work in engineering and some “just want to get this thing built.”
At least three told the rest of the committee on Tuesday that they voted no on previous City Hall bills and are excited to give input on a City Hall they can support.
“I was on the ‘no’ campaign twice, because I felt what was being offered was not what the citizens want,” Committee Member Stephen Barnes said.
“I am with you, I am glad most of you have expressed that it’s got to be cost effective,” Eiya Wolfe said. “We have to do this smartly, but we have to have something that’s going to be really decent.”
On the other side of the coin, other members have been involved in getting the last measure to pass.
“I did get involved in volunteering for the past campaigns for the bond measure. I’m excited to work on solutions with this diverse group of residents,” Dustin DeKoekkoek said.
The group had a few moments of confusion during Wednesday’s meeting, however. One of the city departments it will tour in the coming weeks is the Mountlake Terrace Police Department. According to Hugill, the Police Department does have its own building and traditionally has not been contained within City Hall. However, after it was built, state and federal guidelines changed and the building is no longer up to standard. Though the Police Department would keep its own building, it may make sense for the City to give it some additional space inside the new city hall.
For example, the two holding cells at the Mountlake Terrace Police Department are in the same area. Current guidelines require that if a minor and an adult are both arrested at the same time, they cannot be in holding cells within earshot of each other. That means, if Mountlake Terrace officers arrest an adult and then later arrest a minor, one of the suspects will need to be taken to a different location, such as Lynnwood or the Snohomish County Jail, before they can be interviewed.
At the end of the day, however, it will be up to the Advisory Committee to determine how much space various city departments will receive, if any, in the proposed building.
Also during its first meeting, the committee elected Linda Rogers and H. Stan Lake as its Chair and Vice Chair, respectively.
The committee is expected to spend this year getting a measure to the ballot. If it passes, the City will have 2018 to design the building, 2019 to build it and 2020 to finish up and move in. Their lease at the Redstone Corporate Center building (6100 219th St. S.W.) expires at the end of 2020.
The public is invited to attend all meetings, though it has not yet been decided if public comments will be accepted at the meetings. The public can make comments to the entire committee by emailing CityHall2017@ci.mlt.wa.us. Regular meetings will be held twice a month on Thursdays, starting next week on Jan. 19 at 6:30 p.m.
To follow committee updates and see a full committee schedule, click here to visit its website.
–By Natalie Covate