Letter to the Editor: It’s time to build a future for MLT — vote yes on Prop. 1

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Dear Editor:

In 1960 the residents of Mountlake Terrace banded together to pass a bond resolution to build a Civic Center that served the city well for nearly 50 years.

In 1964 they did it again to fund the building of the Recreation Pavilion that has proven to be a cornerstone of community activities. A bond measure brought us the Evergreen Playfields in 1975, which are today used by baseball, softball, soccer and tennis players and runners from all over the region. A 1986 bond measure brought us our Library, which is visited by over 150,000 people each year.

Just look at the positive impact these facilities have had on our community. At the time of all these bond measures there were the vocal naysayers who said that they were too expensive and not needed, just as there are opposing Proposition 1 today.

Today, in 2013, we have the decision to either follow in the footsteps of former (and current) community members and build a facility that we, our children and our children’s children can enjoy – or kick the can further down the road.

Future generations will either see the residents of MLT in 2013 as a people who worked together to provide a brighter future for our community – or a people who decided to do nothing when opportunity was the greatest.

What do you want to be known as?

Please vote yes on Mountlake Terrace Proposition 1. Find more info at YESforMLT.com.

Dustin DeKoekkoek
Mountlake Terrace, WA

15 COMMENTS

  1. Dustin, people like you are our hope for the future in MLT. Thank you for showing us what a leader and visionary looks like.

  2. I just have to ask: How many of those bonds were passed the same way they want this one to be passed? With it failing the first two times. The first failing, I give them credit, as they reduced the cost. The second time it failed? They compromised nothing, it’s the same project that we all said “No, it’s still too much.” to.

    How many of those projects that you have mentioned got approved this way?

    • Excellent point, Ms. Stewart.

      Another, related, point, would be to more specifically address the scale of the other bond issues the author mentioned. In today’s dollars, how much would a new library cost? My guess is probably less than 10% of the bond issue currently being floated and possibly only around 5-6% of that. A similar question could be asked of the park example he mentioned.

      Of course, he could have stated the dollar value of those projects, and even extrapolated those costs to current-day dollars, but then the unseriousness of the comparison he made would have been exposed.

      The Prop. 1 proponents are counting on people acting like sheep, not asking questions, and taking issued statements at face value. We can find out AFTER the bond issue passes that the cost estimates that supposedly are 30% lower over 50 years don’t include things like maintenance, repairs, and labor for groundskeeping, etc.

  3. Anybody have a reason why an empty building with plenty of parking on a very large parcel of land we already possess

    http://mltnews.com/city-seeking-manager-for-lake-ballinger-clubhouse/

    can’t be used as a Civic Center?

    It’s not like it’s doing us any good as a golf clubhouse. There’s another golf course very, VERY close to it.

    Why not save a few million dollars and retrofit this building instead?

    People who want play space for their children will be happy. People who want a fountain can probably get one. People who want a meeting place can have one.

    Why continue to struggle with an empty building and spend money we don’t have when we can use the clubhouse for something that will actually benefit the City?

  4. There is a very good reason for not using the Ballinger Clubhouse as a Civic Center – it’s just not big enough. The City has 185 staff members; the clubhouse has an occupance of about 125 – do the math. Also, it’s not in the Center of Town, where the towncenter revitalization is taking place. We need to be closer to the center, have all city services under one roof, and a place for the citizens to gather. There is currently a preliminary Request For Proposal (RTF) out for suggestions on how to best utilize the Ballinger Clubhouse. Community meetings will take place in approximately June for citizen input on improvements and ammenities for a static park. It’s just not condusive for the use proposed by Bob. The Civic Center is needed for continued progress of Mountlake Terrace. Please be sure to get your ballots submitted early. Every vote counts.

  5. If you feel the need for a social gathering place (I see this as more of a want) It seems to me that maybe some good old compromising is the way to go. I think that the senior center part of the civic center is the part that is most contentious. If the city would just let go of this part of the project I’m pretty sure you would have more than the needed 60% of the vote. I suggest that the Clubhouse would make a suitable senior/community center. Let go of this part of the project, use the clubhouse. Compromise: it’s how things get done in a democracy, on a national and local level.

  6. The City has looked at the option of removing the Community Center aspect of the project and has estimated that it would have decreased the cost of the project by approximately 10%. Even if the scope of the project could be reworked this could not be put back on a ballot until August at the earliest, this pushing the construction of the project out another construction season. As the economy continues to recover and construction prices continue to rise I can almost guarantee the most if not all of that savings is going to be eaten up by rising construction costs.

    Further, I really don’t think the “No new taxes” crowd is going to be satisfied. You’ll bring out the same “No new taxes signs” that were used in 2010, 2012, and 2013, and probably swap out the “It’s too much” placard with an “It’s STILL too much” placard. If things go the way of the “No new taxes” crowd I am sure you will find something you won’t like about even a revised proposal (the police station for example) and you’d continue to ask for us to shave pennies off the project while construction prices continue to rise. What we’d end up with in 5 years would be exactly what you’re asking for: a Kenmore City Hall that would fit 40 staff members that will be outgrown before it’s even built. But instead of paying around $15 million like Kenmore, we’ll be paying $25 million or more.

    That’s not even mentioning that a big part of this project is about continuing the revitalization of downtown Mountlake Terrace and creating a central hub for the community. The Ballinger Clubhouse is a great space, but what it is is a restaurant and a medium sized room. It is not conducive for a use as a Community Center where art shows can be held, classes can be offered, seniors can gather, and kids can learn and play.

    • 1. The argument that we’re running out of time is weak. There’s never enough time to do it correctly, but there’s always enough time to do it over. The City had its opportunity to revise after it was told ‘No’. The City chose to try to ram it down our throats in a more favorable electoral environment.

      2. You don’t need to win over the ‘No New Taxes’ crowd. You need to win over the proportion of the project opponents who think that the current project is too much but would go for a less expensive alternative. Had a re-design been done after the people spoke at the ballot box, this would be a slam-dunk proposal. Instead, people are royally pissed that their voices at the ballot box were ignored.

      3. You mentioned a couple of weeks back that you drove past three ongoing development projects on your way to work. Those are ongoing without the $25M bond issue, and more are in the pipeline. You yourself, above, pointed out that the economy is continuing to recover. That means more of this development will occur with private funds. So the argument that ‘If we build it, they will come.’ is weak, as well. They’re already coming. It’s why all that housing is going in in the corridor.

  7. I’m sorry, I just don’t trust how the city works it’s numbers anymore. Like I said before, I can’t find where you came up with this 10%.

    How could you know if this wouldn’t satisfy them? I guess you might need to find out – if it fails, like last time, and since they made the mistake of decided they didn’t need to compromise last time, waiting until August is the price we all will have to pay to find out.

    As for the size of the Clubhouse – as a curator, I held art shows in a space half that size, kids are really quite resourceful, they tend to learn and play in all sorts of spaces. I’m not sure when the classes came into play, I think that you’re just trying to appeal to as many peoples pet projects as possible, but they can just make due too.

    Finally, my thoughts about the supposed revitalization of downtown: I really think that no matter what goes (or doesn’t go) into that space, things will be what they will be for the downtown area. They are already changing, without the civic center. It’s my hope that they don’t change too much. I like it the way it is, as do many of the folks I’ve heard from. We like our local flavor including but not limited to, our locally owned grocery stores, our unpretentious store fronts, and our lower crime rates.

  8. FYI. The recreation pavilion was completed in 1968 after a succcessful first-try 1967 ballot. There were no signs for either side in 2010. No, the clubhouse isn’t big enough for the entire civic center, but it would easily house the community center/senior center. No other ballot measure ever failed once let alone twice because they were all field-tested in the community first rather than just run thru the city council echo chamber.

    This measure is more than 10 times the largest previous ballot measure ask, the police station of 23 years ago. YES says our needs for city hall and police space have increased dramatically since the late 1980s, but the population in 2010 was barely more than it was in 1990. Everyone else has to make do with less, but the city somehow qualifies for an exemption from our general economic situation. They’re different, don’t you know.

    After combing through the tentative (and I mean real tentative) budget for the Campus, the one point made with which I agree is one made by Mr. DeKoekkoek. If the budget can be trusted (big if) and you remove the community center/senior center, police and library components, what you are left with is the true Taj Mahal, which is as the plywood sign says, the city hall itself. Whatever took an affordable concept of less than $8 million in 2008 to over $20 million in 2012 should be the focus of the sharp pencil brigade at city hall, if there really is one.

    My recommendation would be to start with the Site costs budget, which is $8 million by itself with a prorata share of sales tax and contingency added in. That’s greater than the entire cost just 5 years ago. If there really is a legitimate reason that this portion of the budget is three times normal (we can’t know until the design phase, of course), maybe this site is no longer affordable for a city hall. The old site is, after all, no more necessarily a city hall location than is Lake Ballinger necessarily a golf course.

    As to the point that any savings would be lost if the ballot measure comes back in August, what about the sheer cost savings of a much smaller proposal? What their logic fails to acknowledge is that the cost difference between an $8 million proposal and a $25 million proposal could not be lost in four years of construction cost increases, let alone four months. Welcome to “guarantee” math.

  9. Dustin, I have to respectfully disagree with your comment regarding the use of the Ballinger Clubhouse. While the City of MLT chose not to support and retain their public municipality golf course, the building itself is a perfect place for a Senior Center or multi-use facility. Yes, it has a small restaurant but the Lakeview Room can host upwards of 200 people. There is also a medium size room in the building that we used for teaching and small meetings. It’s a City building, I am sure they can find the ability to knock down a wall or two to enlarge a room if need be. On the other hand, the City may not want to utilize it because of the cost to maintain the building. The electricity and gas alone for the building is extremely high, something every operator has strugged with. At one time, the City of MLT was so adamant to have such a nice building in their City, that they built one that was not cost effective and now years later, they don’t want to utilize it as a City building and choose to charge their citizens more money to build a large civic complex?

    • Well put, Ms. Hardy. My point was not to use the Ballinger site as-is, but to renovate/expand what is there to accommodate the ‘Civic Center’ and community-gathering desires.

      The building can be expanded. New insulation/windows/exterior wrap can be placed to improve the energy efficiency and a new HVAC can be added to decrease those costs – recall that this was a big part of the ARRA Stimulus of not so long ago.

      Not much that I can do about the fact that it’s not in the center of town but not being in the center of town means that the center of town won’t be as crowded and the City Hall space won’t need as much parking on that project (which leaves more land for future expansion according to future growth, BTW).

      It seems to me that Ms. Rogers, in her reply to me above, misperceived that I was suggesting that the Ballinger site be the new City Hall, which is incorrect – I suggested it as a Civic Center, which is not the same thing at all. I otherwise have trouble explaining her bizarre and overtly snide ‘do the math’ comment.

      If a Civic Center is 10% of the cost of the proposed project, that’s still $2,500,000. I bet the Ballinger Clubhouse size could be doubled and the necessary upgrades for energy, ADA, EPA, whatever can be done for around 40% of that. And the space at the City Hall site could be made into a park-like area until it’s needed for other purposes.

  10. I have to laugh when the pot calls the kettle black and gets caught doing it. Bob Smith finds Linda Rogers comment about ‘do the math” to be snide. I find her comment absurd.

    If she wants to sit down somewhere for coffee, we can play dueling calculators or dueling spreadsheets if she prefers. Please bring along the city officials who constructed the Levy Cost spreadsheet and the much publicized graph comparing renting to owning. Anyone who has “done the math” knows just how erroneous both are despite being central to the proponents arguments.

    Not surprisingly, as the word spreads of their fundamental flaws, not a single voice among them has risen to defend the indefensible. Those who created those faulty representations know they are based on faulty premises and we all know why. The only math that matters to them is the electoral math.

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