Councilmembers put it on line for voters: Civic center needed

632
5
Councilmember Kyoko Matsumoto Wright speaks her mind at the council meeting.
Councilmember Kyoko Matsumoto Wright speaks her mind at the council meeting.

Story and photo by Doug Petrowski

Poised to approve placing a $25 million municipal bond issue on the April 23 ballot, the Mountlake Terrace City Council showed a feistiness in its discussion of the measure Thursday night and warned residents of the impact to the city if Proposition 1 goes down to defeat once again.

The council is expected to give its final approval to putting the bond measure on the April ballot Monday night at its regular meeting at Interim City Hall.

Proposition 1 would authorize the issuing of $25 million in municipal bonds to pay for design and construction of a new Mountlake Terrace Civic Center housing city hall offices and a senior/community center, remodeling and expansion of the current police station, and upgrades to the current library. The 30-year bonds would be paid off with an increase in the city’s portion of property taxes.

This would be the third attempt by city officials since November 2010 to gain voter approval for building a new Civic Center by bond measure.

In seeking a new civic center, “we’re not really looking at wanting everything, but what we actually need,’ explained Mayor Pro Tem Laura Sonmore.

The city currently rents office space for most city departments at a cost of approximately $500,000 annually. With current funds running out to pay rent, city officials warn that without financing the construction of a new city hall, either new tax revenue or cuts in city spending would be needed to continue paying rent beginning in 2014.

In a presentation to the council, City Manager John Caulfield outlined options the city would have to consider to continue meeting an annual $500,000 rent bill. “We would need a new revenue source from a property tax levy increase to continue renting and/or cuts to essential public services,” he said.

Possible cuts to free up $500,000 annually might include two police officers (savings of $275,000), neighborhood park maintenance ($256,000), athletic complex maintenance ($238,000), the code enforcement program ($200,000), the domestic violence program ($120,000), building grounds maintenance ($116,000), or the animal control program ($60,000).

Even with some cuts in spending, the council may still consider an increase in property taxes if the city doesn’t build a new civic center and, instead, continues to rent office space. “The taxes are going to go up one way or another,” concluded council member Seaun Richards.

Councilmember Kyoko Matsumoto Wright was most adamant about the need for voter approval of a new civic center. “I think we need to let the citizens realize that this is no longer a choice that we have, because we can rent, but they are going to have to pay for that too,” she said. “It’s not free. It’s one or the other.”

Matsumoto Wright continued: “We have a balanced budget, and we work very hard for that budget; we work very hard for a lot of things. I think the citizens of this city really don’t have anything to complain about when you come right down to it because they can always move to another city that has more problems. I think that I like living here. And we’re on the verge of getting a city that is the envy of the whole state, and I really, really want to be alive to see it happen.”

Councilmember Bryan Wahl said that building a new civic center “is the fiscally responsible thing to do,” saying it would become an anchor for new development in the Town Center district of Mountlake Terrace.

If placed on the ballot, Proposition 1 would require a 60-percent approval from voters for passage.

Prior to its vote on Monday night, the city council will conduct a public hearing on the plan to place the bond measure on the April 23 ballot. The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Interim City Hall, 6100-219th St. S.W., Suite 200.

5 COMMENTS

  1. What you have to overcome here, Dear City Council, is a lot of anger when it comes to the $25 million blunder you have shackled us all with. I don’t for 1 second believe that there was a problem with the old building, and many other residents are with me on that. Yes, it may have had asbestos. But so does every house in this city that has that awful brown tile floor. The solution is to keep it covered. Yes, it may have had a tile in the drop ceiling fall down due to water intrusion. But it was a tile in a drop ceiling! Have you ever got one wet? They turn to goo! The solution is to not get it wet. To renew a hot tar roof, or apply a latex polymer patch can’t possibly justify knocking down a whole building. Then you knocked down the whole building and had no permits/approval, voter or otherwise for a new one! The Senior center is a nice idea, but there is already one across the street, rendering this one an unnecessarily redundant expenditure. I’m not sure the old Police station is even paid for yet and we’re told we can’t even get 20 years out of the building we built for it to sit in! Stupid me, for taking a 30 year mortgage on a 50+ year old house! The Police station was fine when we built it, it doesn’t look crowded, in fact it doesn’t look any more or less different now, than it ever has. Crime, hasn’t changed much, the number of officers, hasn’t changed much. The building of a new one is then an unnecessary luxury we can ill afford.

    On this issue, the council pays lip service “as the fiscally responsible thing to do” when as far as I can see the responsible thing to do would never to bend the voter over a log to begin with. I can only speculate at the councils motivations and whose brothers, construction company was poised to get the contract. Never mind it’s all moot now. Trust is blown on this one. 

    If they really were interested in doing the “fiscally responsible” thing, Evergreen elementary is vacant, nearby, and centrally located, near great transit options. It’s a prime piece of municipally owned land, I imagine an inter-agency deal could’ve been worked out. Oh, and look acres and acres of room for future municipal use.

    • “I don’t for 1 second believe that there was a problem with the old building, and many other residents are with me on that.”1991In a July 11, 1991 letter to City Manager Robert White, Architects West Director of Bellevue Operations Fred L. Stumpf wrote of challenges discovered during the design of renovations to the Civic Center building. Due to the combination of the building site, the existing building construction, and code compliance requirements, he determined it was not possible to construct cost-effective renovations that would meet code. He had serious problems getting the new roof to pencil out; the new bathrooms would likely go over budget due to plumbing issues; and space renovations would be hampered by interior walls that could not be moved. He concluded that the additional space to be gained by enclosing the covered entry area would not be sufficient to meet the City’s needs. While he did end up producing designs, his ultimate recommendation was that the building “really ought to be replaced over a period of years and maybe serve a single City function.”1993In a letter to Ron DeMars, Building Official, re. Mountlake Terrace City Hall Structural Review, Smith & Huston, Inc. (Consulting Engineers) have the following findings: Makes recommendations for “Immediate Repairs”, reconstructing the west end of the south wall and bracing the roof shell over the covered entry area for earthquake resistance; “Five Year Repairs”, improve building lateral stability and connections between structural walls and the floor and ceiling; and “Ten Year Repairs”, which require a more comprehensive review and renovation program.2000Mountlake Terrace Civic Center Structural Assessment for The City of Mountlake Terrace. Saad E. Moustafa, PhD., P.E., Project Manager. WJE: Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. (Engineers, Architects, Material Scientists). Findings: Makes recommendations for a seismic upgrade of the main building in the next two to three years, and seismic upgrade or removal of the courtyard cover.2001 – Nisqually EartyhquakeLetter to Jerry Trojan Re. Post Earthquake Assessment of Mountlake Terrace Civic Center. Saad E. Moustafa, PhD., P.E., Affiliated Consultant. WJE: Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. (Engineers, Architects, Material Scientists). Findings: Evaluation after the Nisqually earthquake found the only damage seen was to the four columns supporting the courtyard roof panels over the entryway. While the damage was not seen to render the columns “unstable,” WJE repeated its opinion that the columns “are not capable of providing adequate lateral support”2008 – City Council Chambers Ceiling collapsesthe City Council Chambers ceiling collapsed in City Hall, making the Council Chambers unusable. An asbestos abatement company was called in to clean the Chambers and make the remainder of the building inhabitable. Due to a number of safety hazards including that other parts of City Hall have the same encapsulated asbestos ceiling that fell during the July incident, the Council directed the City Manager to move forward in locating a temporary City Hall.2008 – Citizen Task Force Makes RecommendationsIn December of 2008, the Task Force made a presentation to the City Council with a service and needs assessment, site alternatives and conceptual design options for city facilities, as well as other uses and services that were heard by the community during numerous open houses and public meetings. Task Force is recommending that the current civic center site (23204 58th Avenue) be used for the new city hall and community center.

      • Findings: Evaluation after the Nisqually earthquake found the only damage seen was to the four columns supporting the courtyard roof panels over the entryway. While the damage was not seen to render the columns “unstable,”

        Then 8 years later after what I can only assume is a suspension of basic maintenance, a ceiling tile falls down. Basic maintenance prevents such things. So an immediate knee jerk reaction is needed to rip out the unaffected (though similarly constructed) adjacent office space and move the whole shebang to the newly constructed fancy building up the street with a dire need for a tenant? I wish I was the landlord there!

        Sounds to me like the solution would’ve been to get permits and draw up plans for a new building to replace the old. Not like they didn’t have years of warning. It’s piss poor planning from the get go. It’s backward contrived urgency and a failure to think things through thoroughly before acting that has voters irritated. Oh, we NEED a new center now, but only because we have been painted in to a corner by panic reaction.

        As a voter and city resident, I feel blackmailed in to a grandiose plan. As always the most expensive of all possible solutions is the one government takes. Actual need: office space for some 1-2 dozen city actuaries. Perceived need: all encompassing do-all one-stop-shop city center municipal service upgrade.

        You get a building, put the 2 dozen actuaries in it, and you’ve got my vote. You create an Alderwood mall of city space, I’m going to vote no. Had you asked before you blackmailed all of us, I might have been onboard.

  2. Let me see now, threats, intimidation, blackmail- what a great way to run a City.  Why doesn’t the City apply for a grant to build it like they do everything else in the City?  The irresponsibile comments made by the City Council are heinous.  Remember kids, the citizens voted you in and they will vote you out – and should. 

  3.  I find it interesting that the very people we have chosen to represent us on theMountlake Terrace City Council have “Warned” us of the impact if Proposition 1 fails again. They have had since 2010 to come up with a plan that would be acceptable to all the residents of Mountlake Terrace, but instead have chosen to ignore our comments and suggestions. “We are not really looking at wanting everything, but what we actually need,” explained Mayor Pro Tem Sonmore. Really, we need to house the Senior Center? Do we need to have an ornamental garden? Do we need to have a Water Fountain? Do we need to have Banquet rooms that we can rent out? Do we need all these things in order for us to have a City Hall? Councilwoman Kyoko Matsumoto Wright said, “I think the Citizens of this city really don’t have anything to complain about when you come right down to it because they can always move to another city that has more problems.” ” We are on the verge of getting a city that is the envy of the whole state, and I really, really want to be alive to see it happen.” Please explain to me why any of us that you represent in this city would have to move just because we don’t agree with you! “Envy” your words not mine “of the whole state.”? Why because you are wanting to build something that is not necessary? A shrine to those of you on council, something you can all have your name on? Get real Councilwoman Kyoko Matsumoto Wright, I think you just might have lost your run for re-election before it even started!If you want to threaten cuts in services and raising property taxes if Prop. 1 fails again, why would you not try to figure out another option. Something that is more acceptable to those of us that oppose Prop.1.Start doing your job and listen to us! Many of you come up for re-election in August!

Leave a Reply