Council gets sneak peek of MLT rail station update; tables plan for surplus firearms sale

An aerial view of the planned Mountlake Terrace light rail station.

The Mountlake Terrace City Council at its June 4 business meeting got a sneak peek of Mountlake Terrace light rail station design documents and other details that will be presented to citizens as part of Sound Transit’s June 13 open house at the Mountlake Terrace Senior Center.

Lynnwood Link Project Manager Gwen McCullough and Howard Fitzpatrick, architectural lead for the Mountlake Terrace station, provided updates on what McCullough described as its “in-progress 90-percent design deliverable.” Sound Transit will also be sharing this information along with other updates at next week’s open house.

The view from the I-5 northbound off-ramp at 236th Street Southwest.

Fitzpatrick said the station will straddle 236th Street Southwest with a “center platform elevated configuration.” The south lobby takes passengers from the south side of 236th via elevator, escalator and stairs to the platform. The south side also drops down to a level below the street that provides access to a service drive. The primary plaza is located to the north, across 236th.

“This is where most of the intermodal transit occurs,” Fitzpatrick said, with north and southbound bus stops. Bus stops will also be located directly under the station, along 236th, going both directions.

The north lobby also contains public restrooms and a variety of service areas along with elevator, escalator and stair access to the center platform, he said.

The temporary parking lot planned for 59th Place West next to the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center.

Fitzpatrick also talked about the temporary parking lot that Sound Transit will install next to the current transit center, on 59th Place West, which will replace all of the 220 surface parking stalls that will be displaced during light rail construction. The parking garage will remain open while station construction occurs.

Sound Transit is working to purchase all of the properties on the 59th Avenue Place cul-de-sac (McCullough estimated the number of homes at nine) so that the temporary lot can be built.

Sound Transit officials also talked about some of the early work they will be doing starting in 2019, to prepare for station construction, including utility relocation. The current parking garage will be closed sporadically on nights and weekends to allow for the work, McCullough said.

Station art concept as presented to the Mountlake Terrace Arts Commission in May. (Rendering courtesy Sound Transit)

Kurt Kiefer, Sound Transit’s Art Program project manager, also provided an update on the station art. Artist Kipp Kobayashi plans to develop imagery “using the idea of a tree or tree roots or branches as a metaphor for connectivity,” Kiefer said. The work involves a wrap of the entire lower part of the station that will be made with a perforation technique, with images cut into metal plates.

Councilmember Bryan Wahl asked about the noise walls on the station platform, following up on earlier council requests that light rail station users not be greeted with a wall of concrete. McCullough said that current plans call for “transparent noise walls over 236th at the platform level,” located on the building’s west side.

Wahl also inquired about the status of federal funding for light rail, given reports that the Trump administration wouldn’t fund the project, which were followed by a Congressional budget proposal that maintains funding.

“We’re feeling a bit more optimistic than we had been regarding that,” said Sound Transit Government Relations Manager Patrice Hardy. “In meetings we’ve had with the FTA (Federal Transit Administration) administrator, they’ve kind of signaled that they are very interested in what the sense of Congress is in terms of the finances.”

In other action, the council decided to table until a later date a proposal from the Mountlake Terrace Police Department to sell $10,000 worth of surplussed firearms to Lynnwood Guns. State law says the guns can either be surplussed or destroyed, and the department had proposed selling them, with the proceeds to fund police department initiatives that included training and ammunition purchases.

Councilmember Laura Sonmore repeated her assertion — first raised during the council’s May 31 work/study session — that the guns should be destroyed rather than sold. City Attorney Greg Schrag reminded the council that state law has different disposal requirements for firearms depending on how the city first acquired the weapons. The city could certainly research what is possible in terms of what weapons could be destroyed and return that information to the council, he added.

Councilmember Bryan Wahl suggested that perhaps the money acquired from any gun sales could be used to fund gun violence awareness or mental health initiatives.

Based on the discussion, Hugill and Schrag said they would come back to the council at a later date with options for consideration.

In other action, the council held a public hearing on the city’s Water Comprehensive Plan Ordinance, although no one showed up to offer testimony. The council unanimously approved adoption of the ordinance.

Next steps are to conduct a water rate study and present those findings to the council in November, with possible implementation of new water rates in January 2019.

— By Teresa Wippel

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