City must destroy art in storage to prepare new Veterans Memorial Park Trails project

Weighing 600 pounds and measuring 8 feet by 4 feet by 6 inches, “Terrace Light” is too unwieldy and expensive to maneuver out of storage even if it had a safe location to be displayed.

During the May 16 Mountlake Terrace City Council meeting, the council voted to remove two pieces of art from the city’s holdings and destroy them.

Recreation and Parks Director Jeff Betz said that during pre-demolition inspections of the storage facilities (also known as bunkers) in Veterans Memorial Park next to the Mountlake Terrace Police Station, staff noted items for removal in preparation for demolition. Among the items were two pieces of art: Terrace Light by the Peter David Studio and an unnamed wall hanging by Rebecca Edwards.

Terrace Light was created for Mountlake Terrace’s 50th birthday celebration in 2004 and was displayed over the front counter of the old city hall building.

When city hall moved to the Redstone Building after the old building’s roof collapsed in 2008, the 600-pound, 6-inch-thick, 8-foot by 4-foot glass panel depicting mountains with a sunny sky has remained in storage.

Recreation and Parks Director Jeff Betz explains the difficulty in moving the 600-pound glass pictures known as “Terrace Light.”

Betz explained that Peter David Studio had been sold to a new company, which assessed the work at about $2,800. However, the company declined to repurchase the artwork from the city, and there have been no other interested buyers.

Due to its size, weight and maneuvering difficulty – compounded by the fact that there is no place to safely display the art – the only option left is to destroy the glass monolith. 

Further, the area around the bunkers has changed. Betz said that the access has been reconfigured since the construction of the play area.

Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright asked Betz, “It would cost us more to move it than it’s worth?”

Betz replied, “Absolutely.”

Although Terrace Light was purchased using city money, it was not funded  under the 1% for the Arts program. The “Untitled” piece – a velour wall hanging – was acquired through 1% for the Arts, however.

Some state agencies may have requirements of 0.5% to 1% for arts funding if a local government has received federal, state or grant funding that requires a percentage for the public art.


“Untitled” was purchased in 1983 from Rebecca Edwards, but Betz said that city staff were unable to locate the artist. The 8-foot by 4-foot fabric art piece used to hang in the old council chambers, and like Terrace Light languished in storage after the 2008 roof collapse.

While “Untitled” is quite portable compared to its quarter-ton glass counterpart, time has not been kind to the material from which it was made.

“The ‘Untitled’ velour wall hanging piece has aged greatly, and the material has degraded to the point of no longer being able to display safely,” Betz said. 

With staff assistance in May 2021, the Mountlake Terrace Arts Commission created a deaccession policy for city-owned art, including the steps before deaccessioning artwork. This is the first time Mountlake Terrace has used the policy.

“I hate to destroy art, but we need to do what we need to do,” Matsumoto Wright said.

The art will be destroyed on June 3 when the bunker is demolished.

In other business, the city council reviewed with Deputy City Manager Carolyn Hope the scope of work for a long-range financial sustainability consultant.

The Mountlake Terrace City Council wishes to create a long-range financial sustainability committee of community members to provide recommendations on balancing the city’s future expenditures and revenues.  

The city staff would like a facilitator and potentially others with expertise – such as financial, community engagement, and communications consultants – to support them.  

Hope said that in 2025, the city’s expenses will exceed operating revenues, and the fund balance will be depleted in the next six to 10 years.

She stated that there are several factors contributing to this deficit, including:

– Washington state laws that limit governmental agencies from increasing taxes more than 1% without a vote of constituents. 

– The City of Mountlake Terrace not using its banked capacity for property taxes. 

– Inflation rates that are higher than 1%.  

– Construction costs that are higher than inflation rates. 

– The Puget Sound region’s demand for workers, which creates a competitive job market that increases hiring and employment costs.  

– Insurance cost increases. 

– The regional cost of living, which is one of the highest in the country.

In addition,Mountlake Terrace’s aging infrastructure requires replacement, and the city is experiencing significant state-mandated growth, which requires further infrastructure improvements. 

The city is inviting a group of community members to learn more about these issues and make recommendations to the city council about long-range financial strategies to support the city’s vision and goals.

Hope explained that the committee’s goal will be to learn about city operations and finances, understand challenges and opportunities, consider options for reducing expenditures and increasing revenues, work with the consultant and city team to seek community input on their draft proposal or options, and make a final recommendation on long-range financial strategies to city council. 

The consultant’s budget is $25,000, with proposed additional funding for the 2025-2026 budget so that the work can continue into the next biennium.

Councilmembers Erin Murray, Rick Ryan, Laura Sonmore and Steve Woodard said they wanted to set realistic expectations for the committee members.

“We don’t want to give the committee members the impression that if someone wants to put a grocery store downtown, it will automatically happen,” Sonmore said.

The councilmembers also want to set expectations for the public. Sonmore pointed out that specific fees — power, water, sewer, and fire department — “will never lower in price” because they are outsourced services the city does not control.

The agenda item regarding formation of the committee was only meant for review and discussion; no action was taken.

SoftResources Director Ron Loos and Principal and Co-founder Spencer Arnesen discuss information technology strategies with the Mountlake Terrace City Council.

During the May 16 meeting, the city council also reviewed a presentation — with no action taken — regarding  possible changes to the city’s information technology strategy. The presenters were Spencer Arnesen, principal and co-founder of IT outsourcer SoftResources,and director Ron Loos.  

A significant part of the strategy is transitioning aspects of the city’s computing (data storage and software services) to the cloud. The transition from physical computer servers to cloud-based services relieves the city of hardware maintenance and many security features, as the provider takes on those responsibilities as part of the service.

When speaking with city staff, SoftResources found that two priorities were being able to log into digital tools quickly and having enhanced Wi-Fi coverage inside city buildings.

Also, SoftResources suggested replacing desktop computers with laptops to accommodate remote work.

The current IT budget is $530,000, but costs could increase to $678,000 by 2028 because most services are subscription-based rather than requiring physical ownership of software and hardware.

In other business, the council reviewed and approved several items to be placed on the June 6 consent calendar.

– An  ordinance to carry over unspent money from city departments to 2024, the second year of the biennium budget.Finance Director Janella Lewis explained that in 2023, staff spent considerably less than anticipated in the general fund, among other funding sources.

– The interlocal agreement with the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for the I-5 Culverts Fish Passage Project. WSDOT intends to remove and replace three culverts on McAleer Creek as part of statewide efforts to restore fish passages. The goal is to bring salmon, among other species, to local lakes like Lake Ballinger.

– A resolution to accept a $120,000 grant to develop Mountlake Terrace’s first urban forest management plan and street tree inventory. This work is 100% grant-funded through the Washington Department of Natural Resources Urban and Community Forestry Program, with no grant funding match required. MLT Tree Board member Audrey Meyer made the successful grant application on behalf of the city.The city council approved the Urban Forest Management Plan and Street Tree Inventory contract. Mountlake Terrace’s first street tree inventory is 100% grant-funded through the Washington Department of Natural Resources Urban and Community Forestry Program. 

– Adoption of the city’s internal proclamation policy, presented at the May 9 city council meeting,. However, due to absent councilmembers, a vote was delayed until the May 16 meeting. No one signed up for public comment on this topic.

The city council also proclaimed Public Works Week in Mountlake Terrace, delivered by councilmember Woodard.

The next city council meeting will start at 7 p.m., May 23, at Mountlake Terrace City Hall, 23204 58th Ave. W., Mountlake Terrace.

To attend the meeting online, visit and enter meeting ID 810 1113 9518; no passcode is needed.

To make a public comment remotely, complete the registration form within 24 hours of the meeting’s start at

To listen via telephone, call 1-253-215-8782 and enter the same meeting ID.

You also can view livestreamed meetings and past video recordings at

The agenda can be viewed here.

— By Rick Sinnett

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