MLT City Hall Advisory Committee members take tour of project they helped create

Several members of the citizens advisory committee that helped develop the vision for the new Mountlake Terrace City Hall got a tour of the new Civic Campus facility Saturday morning.

The  Civic Campus at 58th Avenue West and 232nd Street Southwest is also home to the Mountlake Terrace Library and Fire Station 19. The new city hall building and plaza were built on a vacant lot where the former city hall stood from 1962-2010. That building was demolished in 2010, after the council chambers ceiling collapsed in 2008 and the city in 2009 moved its operations to rented space in the Redstone Building off 220th Street Southwest.

Mountlake Terrace voters in 2017 approved — by a 70 percent margin — a $12.5 million bond measure that had been developed by the advisory committee and approved by the city council. The bond measure funded design, engineering and construction costs for a new city hall, plus a 3,100-square-foot police station addition and associated parking and landscaping. ARC Architects was chosen to design the building, and Allied Construction Associations Inc. was awarded the construction contract.

In 2018, the city council identified park impact fees as a funding source to design and construct a public plaza as part of redeveloping the site. That city received a $300,000 grant from the Hazel Miller Foundation to help fund the design and construction of a fountain on the plaza. After seeking community input, the city council agreed to name the plaza after late Mountlake Terrace Mayor Jerry Smith.

The city also chose two artists — CJ Rench and Louise McDowell — to provide artwork for the project. McDowell’s cast bronze figures — a collection that the Mountlake Terrace Arts Advisory Commission calls “Playful” — reflects the family-oriented spirit of Mountlake Terrace. McDowell’s pieces were installed Saturday, and Rench’s 9- to 16-foot wildflower metal sculptures with glass/resin flower petals are scheduled to be installed next weekend.

“Playmates,” by Louise McDowell
“Going for the Goal,” by Louise McDowell
“The Winning Catch,” by Louise McDowell

During the Saturday tour, Mountlake Terrace City Manager Scott Hugill and Community Relations Director Virginia Clough walked the group through the two-story, 18,600-square-foot city hall building, which includes a light-filled council chamber that can double as a public meeting space, a lobby area and offices for city staff. Just off the council chambers is the Lake Ballinger Room, where councilmembes can have executive sessions; the location — which can hold up to 18 people — will double as a staff meeting room.

Clough explained that the city’s finance and community development departments will be located on the first floor, with easy access for those paying bills or applying for permits. The second floor will include public works and engineering, human resources, the city clerk and public records offices, plus the city manager’s office.

There’s a mud room on the first floor with a separate outside door so employees can hose off if they’ve encountered dirt on the job. That room also has a locker room and separate shower for employees — convenient for those who may want to exercise before or after work.

Clough said that throughout the city hall design and construction process, staff stayed focused on the five vision words the advisory committee identified for the new facility: welcoming, common, functional, family and community — as well as the vision statement: “An efficient, functional City Hall and commons that is welcoming for families and the community.”

“I really think we nailed it,” Clough told committee members during the tour.

“I’m quite pleased,” said Stan Lake, who served as the advisory committee’s vice chair. “I think the architects and the entire team took the message to heart that we don’t need a Cadillac, we need a good Chevy. I think this (the new city hall) fits my understanding of Mountlake Terrace.”

After three previous failed attempts to approve funding for a new city hall, the Mountlake Terrace City Council in early 2017 appointed the nine-member advisory commission with the mission of coming up with a plan that voters might be willing to pass. From the beginning, the committee focused on developing a plan that was frugal and cost-effective.

During the tour, Clough pointed to examples of that commitment throughout the new building, including as an example the city’s plan to reuse existing furniture now at the interim city hall whenever possible. A second-floor conference room was designed specifically to accommodate an existing conference table from the interim building. “We’re always thinking..about reusing the equipment as much as we could,” Clough said.

She added she is especially pleased with the spacious Jerry Smith Plaza, which can be used for a range of outdoor community activities. Now that the city has a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, she also sees the plaza as the perfect place for cultural events. The city has also been able to purchase a large evergreen tree — funded through private donations — that can be used for future tree-lighting events, she said.

It’s anticipated employees will be moving into the new building in the next few weeks, but the date has not yet been confirmed. The city also hopes to hold a ribbon-cutting celebration in late summer.

“Thanks to all of you,” City Manager Hugill said to the members of the advisory group at the end of Saturday’s tour. “This is what you created. Well done.”

— Story and photos by Teresa Wippel

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