At its March 19 council meeting, the Mountlake Terrace City Council began the process of bringing a $25 million capital bond measure before city voters to fund construction of a new City Hall/Civic Center. Discussion of a formal ordinance for the bond issue is set for the council’s March 29 work/study session, with a final vote set for the April 2 council meeting to put the issue on the Aug. 7 ballot.
Mountlake Terrace voters in November 2010 turned down a $37.5 million bond measure for the construction of a similar civic center project, with 47 percent voting yes and 53 percent voting no. Councilmembers expressed optimism that with a smaller overall price tag, the necessary 60-percent approval from city residents could be reached.
City officials were able to reduce the cost of a new City Hall/Civic Center to $25 million primarily by eliminating 16,500 square feet from the 2010 proposal.
“This $25 million option still provides a good-sized footprint in terms of what our needs are short-, medium- and long-term,” said City Manager John Caulfield.
The Mountlake Terrace City Council began discussions of replacing the original City Hall building, constructed in 1961, in 2003. In July 2008, the ceiling of the council chambers collapsed, leading to a decision to raze the entire building. The city has been leasing space in the Redstone Building, 6100-219th St. S.W., to serve as an interim city hall since then. The city’s lease on this space expires in July 2014; councilmembers were presented with a choice of pursuing a hike in property taxes to pay for an additional three-year lease option on the Redstone Building space, or seeking voter approval of a 30-year bond issue for new civic center construction.
Mayor Jerry Smith supported the $25 million capital bond option, saying, “If we stay here (leasing space in the Redstone Building), we are actually losing $500,000 minimum a year to some guy back in New York, while if we go with the bond issue and build our own building we are investing money in our city.”
Although final design plans wouldn’t be drawn up until after voters approved the project, the proposed civic center would most likely include city hall offices, police station and a community/senior activity center. Preliminary design plans for the $37.5 million civic center also included an amphitheater, parking garage, open space (for events like farmers’ markets and art shows) and an observation deck; it’s unknown if any of these amenities would be included in this year’s revised plans. Funds collected from a $25 million bond issue would also be used to complete minor upgrades and/or repairs to other city facilities (recreation pavilion, library).
In addition to discussion on the capital bond measure at its March 29 work/study session and an ordinance vote at its April 2 meeting, the City Council hopes to conduct one or more community outreach/town hall meetings concerning the issue. These meetings have yet to be scheduled.