Council approves interim parking to replace spots displaced by light rail-related construction

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With the goal of accommodating parking disruptions due to light rail construction starting early next year, the Mountlake Terrace City Council Monday night unanimously approved a development code amendment to allow interim temporary parking facilities in the city’s Town Center.

The Aug. 6 business meeting vote came after a scheduled public hearing, although no one signed up to testify.

The amendment will permit interim temporary parking in the vicinity of the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center to replace existing commuter parking displaced during the construction of the Lynnwood Link Extension Light Rail guideway, and the light rail station over 236th Street Southwest.

To prepare for light rail work, Sound Transit will begin underground utility and clearing and grading in early 2019. During this time, the transit agency will use surface parking at the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center as a staging area, displacing 230 commuter parking spaces there for an estimated six years.
Sound Transit has said that the Transit Center garage will remain open for commuters during the entire light rail station construction period, with the exception of some closures on the weekend. The Mountlake Terrace station is expected to open in 2024.
Eventually, Sound Transit will build a temporary parking lot next to the current transit center, on 59th Place West, which will replace all of the surface parking stalls that will be unavailable during light rail construction. Sound Transit is working to purchase the properties on the 59th Avenue Place cul-de-sac so that lot can be built.

The code amendment approved Monday night will allow the agency to site — at its expense — a temporary parking lot close to the transit center, with shuttle buses providing regular service to and from that lot.

A likely location for the interim temporary parking facility — which under the code amendment will be in use for 12 months with a possible six-month extension — will be the former Roger’s Marketplace site on 56th Avenue West. The grocery store building will have to be razed to accommodate the 230 displaced parking spaces, said Community and Economic Development Director Christy Osborn.
The city is putting requirements in place to ensure that Sound Transit provides frequent shuttle service during peak times to reduce the impact on transit center commuters, Osborn said.
Councilmember Laura Sonmore told Osborn she worried about impacts on commuters at the start of a very long the construction process.
“We know light rail’s so far off. As a community you aren’t anticipating now to lose your parking spot and wait six years to get another one closer. I have a feeling our city will take a lot of heat for the parking situation,” Sonmore said.
“Traffic’s already a nightmare and when you have dropping off your child for day care and running to catch a bus, it can be a big stress on the person having to do all that,” Sonmore added. “Whatever we can do to help our commuters would be much appreciated.”

Also during the Aug. 6 meeting, the council adopted by a 6-1 vote (Sonmore voting no) a resolution designating use of Town Center Park impact fees for the new Civic Campus Plaza site.

Prior to the vote, Recreation and Parks Director Jeff Betz explained that the city’s original intent for the impact fees — approved as part of the Town Center Plan in 2007 — was to use them to acquire property for a park in the Town Center. However, the city collected a total of $660,000 through 2017 — far less in fees than anticipated — due to the recession. Plus, rising property values have meant that there are few available and affordable properties for the fees collected. City staff decided instead to look at whether the park could be incorporated into the Civic Campus site, where the new city hall will be located.

Sonmore said she would rather see the city use the existing Veterans Memorial Park — located adjacent to the Civic Campus site — for such a purpose. The city already owns the land and it is spacious enough to accommodate additional amenities such as concerts in the park or a water feature, she argued.

City Manager Scott Hugill noted that the City Hall Advisory Committee had recommended a public Civic Campus Plaza/Park as part of the city hall development. However, a decision was made not to include funding that plaza/park as part of the bond proposal, and instead find an alternative funding source later. Using existing impact fees would serve that purpose, city officials said.

Now that the resolution has be approved, city staff will follow
up with an amendment to the existing ARC contract for the Civic Campus design, to begin the Town Center Park design process. This will avoid delays and increased costs, officials said.
In other action, the council:
-Voted unanimously to approve an interlocal agreement with the Edmonds School District for shared use of the city’s Recreation Pavilion (including pool and racquetball) as well as Mountlake Terrace High School Theater, before- and after-school sites and Terrace Park School’s playfields.
-Approved 6-1 (Sonmore voting no) a process for the council’s performance review of City Manager Scott Hugill. The council agreed — after debate both during the Aug. 2 work/study session and Aug. 6 business meeting that included an executive session  — not to hire a facilitator to conduct the review but instead to have Councilmember Doug McCardle coordinate the process for the council.
— By Teresa Wippel

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