Mountlake Terrace voters to decide civic campus funding

  • Tue Aug 24th, 2010 9:34pm

By John J. Caulfield Mountlake Terrace city manager

On Nov. 2, Mountlake Terrace voters will be asked to consider a proposition to issue bonds totaling no more than $37.5 million To construct a new Civic Campus.

The campus could include a variety of community amenities such as a community and senior center, space for art festivals, a downtown civic green, a new police station, emergency operations center, an expanded farmers market and an amphitheater that will support music and cultural events and a link to Veterans Memorial Park.

The proposition will also provide funding for the replacement of the roof, furniture and heating/air conditioning system at the library. All this will be next door to the downtown that is planned for revitalization.

The former civic center opened in 1962 to serve a new city that incorporated in 1954. Since then the city has quadrupled in population to nearly 21,000 people.

In 2008 the center’s ceiling collapsed and the facility was deemed unusable and unsafe with safety and structural deficiencies dating back more than 20 years.

Following demolition, publicly owned land now stands empty, available for a new Civic Campus, while the city rents space for basic civic functions.

The new Civic Campus concept was created following six months of community meetings and open houses conducted by an 11-member Citizen Facility Advisory Task Force in 2008. The proposed project is designed to meet the desires of the community, expressed during the outreach process. The Task Force reviewed a number of sites and financing options and recommended the Civic Campus be built on the old civic center site and that the City Council should seek voter approval to fund the project.

Along with the Civic Campus amenities, a state of the art police station and emergency operations center will meet 21st century public safety needs and city offices would return to the Civic Campus.

Today the Police Department provides services that did not exist in the past, including animal control, electronic home monitoring, crime prevention, code enforcement, domestic violence personnel, SWAT, canine assistance and community service programs. Safety improvements, such as secure prisoner transport areas, would be included.

The old police station, remodeled for the emergency operations center, would include evidence and records storage in addition to being the central command facility responding to disasters and emergencies.

The council’s decision to put the project on the ballot in November was prompted by a very positive bidding climate (projects are coming in up to 30 percent below estimates). At the same time, council structured the financing so property owners won’t begin paying the full cost of the levy for up to three years, allowing for economic improvement. The additional property tax for the owner of an average home ($256,300) at current levy rates would be zero in 2011 and approximately $3.50 per month in 2012. The full cost, totaling under $20 per month would begin in 2013.

Costs will be less if estimated construction bids are lower enabling the city to spend less than $37.5 million. Amounts will also reduce as redeveloped properties pay into the levy.

If approved, the project would be designed in 2011. Constructed in early 2012 through the summer of 2013. Once completed, it will form the heart of the Town Center and serve as a catalyst for transforming our downtown area into an attractive gathering place for Mountlake Terrace residents and visitors.

For more information about the Civic Campus proposal, call 425-744-6205 or view the city’s website at www.civiccampus.com.

John J. Caulfield is city manager for Mountlake Terrace.