Story and photos
by Doug Petrowski
Mountlake Terrace City Manager John Caulfield and Police Chief Greg Wilson presented information on the proposed civic campus to a group of about 30 people Wednesday night in a forum sponsored by the YES for MLT committee. If approved by city voters Aug. 7, the $25-million project would be built on the southwest corner of 58th Avenue West and 232nd Street Southwest.
Caulfield outlined the city’s history of public facilities construction and why officials see a need now to build a new city hall, police station, senior center and green space, and make improvements to the library. “It’s been 25 years since voters have considered upgrading a city facility,” Caulfield said.
If approved, the capital bond measure would raise property taxes for the typical Mountlake Terrace homeowner $7.42 per month in 2014, with an additional increase of $11.59 per month in 2015 for the remainder of the 30-year bond. Proposition 1 requires a 60-percent approval by city voters.
Caulfield listed six specific positives to the civic campus proposal:
- A return of city services to the downtown core of Mountlake Terrace (presently interim city hall is located on the second story of the commercial office building on 220th Street SW near I-5)
- A new “stand-alone” 8,500-square-foot community/senior activity center
- ?Library improvements (specifically a new roof and upgrades to the heating and air conditioning system)
- Expanding and remodeling the police station (the current 7,000-square-foot station was built in 1991 and no longer meets the needs of the current police department)
- Creation of a “Civic Green” (possibly including an amphitheater, spray fountain and other amenities)
- Creating community event space (for hosting farmers markets, arts festivals and other events)
Caulfield acknowledged that while this civic campus plan has dropped in total cost from a similar $37.5 million proposal that was rejected in 2010, it might not be enough for voters to approve this time either. “It’s a tough nut to crack and will take a big effort,” he said. But Caulfield added this was the ideal time to go forward to the voters with the plan due to an inviting bidding environment and general low interest rates.
“Could our costs be lower? Yes,” Caulfield explained. “Construction costs could end up being lower, interest rates could end up being lower.”
Police Chief Greg Wilson talked about how the Mountlake Terrace Police Department has outgrown its current building, constructed in 1991. “The demands of the community have expanded, but we have limitations in our facility,” Wilson said.
The Chief shared slides showing how former storage rooms and one restroom have had to be converted into working office space. The department also utilizes space in the adjacent parking garage for work areas. Wilson also outlined federal mandate restrictions and security concerns that make the current police station difficult to work in.
“What we’re asking for is not a Taj Mahal,” Wilson said. “Our place is OK, we’re doing OK with it, but it could use a shot in the arm.”
The YES on MLT committee is a group of city residents advocating approval of Proposition 1. In addition to hosting the forum Wednesday night, they passed out a four-page brochure on the measure and urged attendees to visit their website and Facebook page.
The City of Mountlake Terrace has a page on their website devoted to the civic center plan here.