By Melissa Slager Herald Writer
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Ballots have been mailed to city residents, asking for another answer on a proposed $25 million civic center.
The idea has failed twice before, including an identical package in August 2012 and a larger measure in 2010. The most recent attempt fell short of the required 60 percent super majority by just 124 votes — ground that proponents feel they can make up this time around.
City leaders for years have batted around the idea of a new civic center, a place of one-stop shopping for city services as well as a gathering point for community programs and events. Then the old City Hall was demolished in 2010 following a ceiling collapse in 2008. The campus, at 232nd Street SW and 58th Avenue W., as a whole is seen as under-used piece of property. The site also houses Fire Station 19, the police station and the library.
Along with building a new city hall, or civic center, the proposal would expand the police station, improve the library and add other amenities, such as a home for the senior center, expanded green space to connect to Veterans Memorial Park, and such features as a fountain and amphitheater.
“Right now we don’t have a place where people can get together and celebrate. This is for the community,” said Linda Rogers, chair of the pro-bond measure group Citizens For MLT Civic Center.
Others disagree, saying a modest bond issue to replace city hall alone is enough. “You only need a small mortgage. You don’t need a big mortgage,” said Leonard French, a local “no” campaign leader
If the bond issue passes, city leaders say the average property owner can expect to pay an estimated $45.24 in 2014, $163.92 in 2015 and an average of $121.56 per year after that through 2042 to complete the 30-year bond repayment period.
If the bond fails again, the city could seek to lift the levy lid to continue paying rent on the interim City Hall. To start, that would cost about $4.20 per month for the average property owner.
City leaders and proponents such as Rogers say the time is right to build new and realize several improvements at once.
The city’s financial footing is good, city estimates are conservative and the construction climate continues to look favorable, said Rogers, of the “pro” group. Building a Civic Center also would give private investors confidence to pump money into downtown and build the city’s dreams for revitalization.
“To look to the future, we have to invest in the future,” Rogers said.
French counters that residents have voted down the Civic Center proposal twice already and that the city is employing “scare tactics” by creating a false choice.
For example, French noted the recently closed municipal golf course at Ballinger Lake — now slated to become a park — has a clubhouse, which he says would be suitable as a senior center.
The city currently plans to outsource management of the clubhouse to rent out for events and other gatherings.
Ballots are due April 23 for the special election.
City presentations: www.cityofmlt.com/civicCenter
“Yes” campaign: yesformlt.com and on Facebook
“No” campaign: www.mltnoprop1.com and on Facebook