MLT City Council sets special work session Sept. 8 to discuss next steps for city hall, civic center

By Doug Petrowski

The Mountlake Terrace City Council will meet for a special work session on Saturday, Sept. 8, to discuss options for funding the construction of a new civic center, continuing to lease space for an interim city hall, or the combination of both. The meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. in council chambers at interim City Hall, 6100-219th St. S.W., Suite 200.

The council scheduled the meeting after a small group of residents urged them to consider a third attempt at a civic center capital bond measure during the Aug. 20 council meeting.

The most recent vote on a 30-year bond measure was defeated by city residents on Aug. 7 after Proposition 1 received a 56.8 percent yes vote; the measure needed 60-percent approval to pass. A similar bond vote in November 2010, failed with a 47-percent yes vote.

Councilmembers have sought a new civic center to house city hall offices over the current arrangement of renting second-floor space in the Redstone Building just off of 220th Street and I-5. At the Sept. 8 meeting, the council will discuss whether to submit a bond measure to finance new construction, seek to raise property taxes (a property tax levy lift) to finance continued rental costs at interim City Hall, make cuts in city services and use the financial savings for either new construction or rental costs, or a combination of any of these.

“We have to take a look at different options,” said Councilmember Shaun Richards.

“We might have to do a property tax lid lift, or a bond, or cut services, or change the scope of the project,” added Councilmember Doug McCardle.

The five city residents who spoke at the Aug. 20 council meeting were vocal in their support of seeking voter approval for a new civic center. “I am here to urge you to form a resolution and go for the capital bond once again,” said Bonnie Mercer, who had served as chairperson for the YES committee for Proposition 1.

“The YES committee is in place and growing and we are committed to seeing this through until the council reaches its goal of rebuilding the downtown,” Mercer added. “We will be your cheerleaders and help you get the work out once again.”

Molly Luna spoke of the need she sees in creating a civic center in the heart of the city. “You need a vision, a beacon to rally around, in order to get people to engage, in order to get people to invest in building a community,” she said.

Councilmembers expressed an urgency in studying the options before them. “Right now we have a lot of momentum going forward,” Councilmember McCardle said. “The longer we wait, the more that momentum goes away.”

The Sept. 8 special meeting will include an opportunity for public comment, said City Manager John Caulfield.

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