MLT Civic Campus supporters make their case Wednesday night

City Manager John Caulfield outlines the Civic Center proposal.

Story and photos
by Doug Petrowski

Mountlake Terrace City Manager John Caulfield and Police Chief Greg Wilson presented information on the proposed civic campus to a group of about 30 people Wednesday night in a forum sponsored by the YES for MLT committee. If approved by city voters Aug. 7, the $25-million project would be built on the southwest corner of 58th Avenue West and 232nd Street Southwest.

Caulfield outlined the city’s history of public facilities construction and why officials see a need now to build a new city hall, police station, senior center and green space, and make improvements to the library. “It’s been 25 years since voters have considered upgrading a city facility,” Caulfield said.

If approved, the capital bond measure would raise property taxes for the typical Mountlake Terrace homeowner $7.42 per month in 2014, with an additional increase of $11.59 per month in 2015 for the remainder of the 30-year bond. Proposition 1 requires a 60-percent approval by city voters.

Bonnie Mercer, chairperson of the YES for MLT Committee, addresses the audience.

Caulfield listed six specific positives to the civic campus proposal:

  • A return of city services to the downtown core of Mountlake Terrace (presently interim city hall is located on the second story of the commercial office building on 220th Street SW near I-5)
  • A new “stand-alone” 8,500-square-foot community/senior activity center
  • ?Library improvements (specifically a new roof and upgrades to the heating and air conditioning system)
  • Expanding and remodeling the police station (the current 7,000-square-foot station was built in 1991 and no longer meets the needs of the current police department)
  • Creation of a “Civic Green” (possibly including an amphitheater, spray fountain and other amenities)
  • Creating community event space (for hosting farmers markets, arts festivals and other events)

Caulfield acknowledged that while this civic campus plan has dropped in total cost from a similar $37.5 million proposal that was rejected in 2010, it might not be enough for voters to approve this time either. “It’s a tough nut to crack and will take a big effort,” he said. But Caulfield added this was the ideal time to go forward to the voters with the plan due to an inviting bidding environment and general low interest rates.

“Could our costs be lower? Yes,” Caulfield explained. “Construction costs could end up being lower, interest rates could end up being lower.”

Police Chief Greg Wilson talked about how the Mountlake Terrace Police Department has outgrown its current building, constructed in 1991. “The demands of the community have expanded, but we have limitations  in our facility,” Wilson said.

The Chief shared slides showing how former storage rooms and one restroom have had to be converted into working office space. The department also utilizes space in the adjacent parking garage for work areas. Wilson also outlined federal mandate restrictions and security concerns that make the current police station difficult to work in.

“What we’re asking for is not a Taj Mahal,” Wilson said. “Our place is OK, we’re doing OK with it, but it could use a shot in the arm.”

The YES on MLT committee is a group of city residents advocating approval of Proposition 1. In addition to hosting the forum Wednesday night, they passed out a four-page brochure on the measure and urged attendees to visit their website and Facebook page.

The City of Mountlake Terrace has a page on their website devoted to the civic center plan here.

  1. It is quite apparent that the MLT council did not abide by RCW 29A.32.280 in my view.

    As of the May 7th council meeting, the fix is in. The Con Committee has been purposely formed by individuals who are on public record supporting a new city campus.

    The City Council reviewed the candidates at their May 3 work/study session and made the following recommendation that was formally adopted at the May 7th regular meeting:
    Pro Statement Committee:

    Debbie “DJ” Jakala

    Dustin Dekoekkoek (Chair)

    Doug McCardle

    Con Statement Committee:

    Charles Ham

    Chuck Mellinger (C&M Trophy) (Chair)

    Dave Heppner (Heppner Insurance)

    RCW 29A.32.280

    Arguments advocating approval or disapproval — Preparation by committees.

    For each measure from a unit of local government that is included in a local voters’ pamphlet, the legislative authority of that jurisdiction shall, not later than forty-five days before the publication of the pamphlet, formally appoint a committee to prepare arguments advocating voters’ approval of the measure and shall formally appoint a committee to prepare arguments advocating voters’ rejection of the measure. The authority shall appoint persons known to favor the measure to serve on the committee advocating approval and shall, whenever possible, appoint persons known to oppose the measure to serve on the committee advocating rejection. Each committee shall have not more than three members, however, a committee may seek the advice of any person or persons. If the legislative authority of a unit of local government fails to make such appointments by the prescribed deadline, the county auditor shall whenever possible make the appointments.

    [2003 c 111 § 820. Prior: 1994 c 191 § 2; 1984 c 106 § 10. Formerly RCW 29.81A.080.]

    Len French, Dan Kessler, are known to oppose the issue and Jessie Knorr is an un-known as a pro or con position. Yet… as to not take a chance by our sitting Council of the ballot measure having an opposing view, on May 7th, appointed committee members most who are on the Public record as supporters of the ballot masquerading as opposers.

  2. I talked to Chuck Mellinger and Dave Heppner specifically about the issue of whether they are supporters of Proposition 1 or not. Mr. Mellinger told me he was first told the bump in property taxes would be about $7 per month for the average MLT homeowner, and he was for that. But he has changed his mind after learning that figure is just for one year, then jumps to more than $11 per month for the remainder of the 30-year bond. Dave Heppner explained that it is his wife and his wife’s business, Heppner Insurance, that is in support of the bond measure. He is not.

  3. Making something of the subtleties between either Mellinger or Heppner and their businesses is a distinction without difference.

    Below find the readily available link to Heppner Insurance, which indicates that Heppner Insurance is both Dave and his wife.

    On Friday, May 4th, Chuck Mellinger told me that Councilman Seaun Richards came down to C&M Trophy to discuss the New Town center, after their discussion Seaun told Chuck he was putting him on the Con Committee list. Chuck told me he did not ask to be put on the list and that, if Seaun put him on it, he was going to ” Raise some Hell ” with him. He then told me he was going to call Virginia to find out if his name was really on the list and what he could do to get it taken off.

    The question for both of them is what are we to believe? Another question for them and the city council is if someone is placed on the Con Committee, to avoid appearances of impropriety, shouldn’t they have to want to be there and have previously been openly against the ballot measure? . Leonard French wrote the Con statement last time so at least we know he has been openly against the measure all along. That’s probably why he isn’t on the Con committee this time.

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