2017 Third of July celebration plans unveiled to MLT City Council Thursday

Fireworks light up the night sky over Ballinger Park during the 2016 Third of July celebration. (File photo by Natalie Covate)

It looks like the Third of July Celebration will be back in Mountlake Terrace for 2017.

City Recreation and Parks Director Jeff Betz told the Mountlake Terrace City Council during its Thursday night work/study session that the city is developing plans for the second annual event, given strong attendance and community support for last year’s inaugural celebration at Ballinger Park.

The event once again will be sponsored by the Cheeseburger Babies Foundation, the charitable arm of the local burger restaurant Red Onion Burgers, Betz said. City staff are working on the details and plan to bring a contract back for the council to sign in April, he added.

Councilmember Seaun Richards, who owns Red Onion Burgers, said he will recuse himself from any council decisions on the contract.

Some elements of the Third of July event would remain the same, including the Ballinger Park location, but the city is also considering several changes.

Fireworks will again be provided by Western Display and will be launched at the west side of the park. (The city considered shooting them off a barge in Lake Ballinger, but the cost would be prohibitive and there were also permitting issues, Betz said.) But the viewing area for the fireworks may be moved to the hillside south of the Mountlake Terrace Senior Center, located in the Ballinger Clubhouse, to allow for a better view.

The stage area that was located next to the senior center may be moved closer to the spectators, and entertainment may include more live music, Betz said. The number of food vendors could be expanded from one to four, and include treats such as sno-cones and cotton candy in addition to the hot dogs served last year as a Senior Center fundraiser.

Because the event drew such a large crowd last year, the city is also looking at having two entrances in 2017 — by opening a now-locked park gate along Lakeview Drive in addition to the current entrance near the Senior Center, Betz said. In addition, work is underway to ensure more nearby parking will be available as well as additional shuttle buses and more restrooms.

Mayor Pro Tem Kyoko Matsumoto Wright noted that the event will be on a Monday this year, which conflicts with city council business meetings. Mayor Jerry Smith suggested the council may want to consider canceling the meeting anyway, since it will occur during a time when many will be taking a four-day weekend, given the national July 4th holiday falls on a Tuesday.

The council also:

– Approved the 2016-18 Teamsters Local 783 bargaining agreement, which includes the city’s police support services, administrative services, public works, maintenance and parks staff. The agreement was reached in December 2016 after more than a year of bargaining, and was ratified by the Teamsters in January 2017. it includes for 2016 a 2.0 percent increase for police support services and a 1.75 percent increase for all other workers, said City Manager Scott Hugill. The slightly higher amount for police support offsets the loss of a paid lunch benefit, he noted. Police support employees will receive a 2.50 wage increase in both 2017 and 2018, while all other Teamsters employees will receive a 2.25 percent increase for both years. The total cost of the salary increase over three years is $111,450, which can be accommodated by the city’s six-year financial forecast, Hugill said.

– Agreed unanimously to direct staff to draft language and identify a new section in the city code that would ensure that the Main Street and Town Center projects are exempted from low impact development standards so permitted projects can move forward. After hearing community and developer concerns, the council in December approved six of nine related low impact development ordinances but chose to further study the remaining three — one involving Main Street and Town Center. City Manager Hugill noted that once staff drafts the language, the state has to review it and there will also be a public hearing before final council approval.

– Had a lengthy discussion about the city’s proposed 2017 Comprehensive Plan update and amendment process, including the preliminary list of potential amendments to the plan. Also know as the “comp plan,” the city describes it as “a 20-year vision that promotes community livability and vitality for the long-term.”  Updates may consist of map or text amendments, and the city has proposed several, including: Amending a land use designation for Firefighters Park, 3900 228th Ave. W. so that the entire park is a Park and Open Space; amending the Town Center Subarea Plan to allow in increase in building heights in some areas; consider renaming two neighborhoods — North Terrace and East Terrace — with names “that would be more place-based and unique.” You can see a complete list here.

Residents are also invited to submit their own amendments to the comp plan; those must be submitted by Friday, March 3, at 4:30 p.m. to the City of Mountlake Terrace Interim City Hall at 6100 219th St. S.W., Suite 200. An application fee applies. Application forms are available at the Interim City Hall and online from the “City Services/ Development Services” webpage at www.cityofmlt.com.

To provide more information about the plan and the process, the city is hosting a community open house Monday, Feb. 27 from 7-8 p.m. (A short presentation will run from 7:15-7:30 p.m.) You can see the proposed suggestions and ideas for updates; view maps and graphics about the city’s current Comprehensive Plan; and provide your input on plan updates.

— By Teresa Wippel

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