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Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Moutlake Terrace

Many don't want the civic center

Regarding the letter, "Time is now to OK new civic center": Actually people have lots of problems. For most. their priority list doesn't show the lack of a $25 million civic center as one of them. A litany of self-serving half-truths won't convince them otherwise. To "demolish the old city hall without funding for the new civic center" is textbook irresponsibility and was not justified by any of a number of engineering studies beginning in 1988.
Those studies discussed repairs, retrofits and the eventual replacement of the city hall and fire station. Despite the implications in the letter, none of them mention demolition or the current civic center concept.
The current concept, expanding the scope and cost of this earlier work, came to life in October, 2007. Refer to the hasty addition to a Community Satisfaction Survey of two leading questions about the desirability of expanding city hall to include a senior/community center and more police space. Concepts only; no costs included.
Presto, council received the answers they needed to make their wishes official.
Then a Citizen Task Force certified as authoritative the council's wishes for an expanded civic center complex. This genesis bears no relation to any of the engineering studies now cited as underpinning the effort.
Moreover, what collapsed was not "the ceiling," but a ceiling in one room, a ceiling with previously identified problems. The city demolished an entire building because the ceiling in an area of about 700 square feet collapsed. Would a responsible home owner bulldoze their house because the bathroom ceiling failed? Would a business?
Council's progressive agenda misread the unfolding economic downturn which still impacts voters' thinking today. And they willfully ignored that a stand-alone city hall was already priced in the 2007-08 biennial budget at less than $7.5 million. A 20,000 square-foot building to include a Senior/Community Center was priced separately at $11.1 million in a March, 2008 consultant's analysis.
The council chamber ceiling failed in July, 2008. Rather than expanding the scope of the project beyond a city hall, they could have put a city hall on the ballot in 2008 for far less than $25 million. The rent boogeyman would have never become a contrived crisis and the city would not now be threatening citizens with the loss of vital services if we don't do what we're told.

Leonard French
Mountlake Terrace
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