Chief fights city hall plan

MUKILTEO – Plopping a new city hall between the police and fire stations in Harbour Pointe would cause a major change in the way the fire department does its training.

Building at 47th Place W. would force demolition of a concrete tower used for training.

Losing the tower didn’t sit well with Fire Chief Jack Colbath at Monday’s council meeting.

“The training tower is a vital tool to the fire department,” Colbath said. “It’s how we keep people’s skills up and our costs minimal.”

Several volunteer firefighters spoke in agreement Monday. The union for the city’s paid firefighters, however, believes that if the tower is removed, an alternative could work.

Kirk Galatas, president of the Mukilteo Firefighters Local 3482, said Tuesday that firefighters could benefit from training with other area firefighters.

Snohomish County Fire District 1 is planning a training facility near Mariner High School south of Everett.

“That kind of training is currently absent in our department,” Galatas said.

The city-owned 47th Place W. site is one of five that Mukilteo is considering as a permanent home.

The others are Third Street in Old Town, an existing building in Harbour Pointe and two vacant lots, one in the central part of town, the other in the south end.

Some details are still being worked out. More information is scheduled to be released at an open house June 29.

For 14 years, city business has taken place in a former warehouse the city rents at 4480 Chennault Beach Road. The council has set July 17 as a deadline for deciding on a permanent home.

If built on city-owned land next to Rosehill Community Center, a new city hall would cost $8.6 million to $9 million, city administrator Rich Leahy told the council.

If the city needs to buy land, the price goes up, he said.

A city hall on 47th Place W. would cost between $12.4 million and $12.7 million, including $4 million over 15 years in training costs with the removal of the tower, Leahy said.

His estimate assumes that firefighters would have to travel to a training facility in North Bend, he said.

Council members Tony Tinsley and Kevin Stoltz, supporters of building city hall on 47th Place W., said they were disappointed the numbers didn’t address other choices, such as building a tower elsewhere in Mukilteo or training at District 1, in south Everett. Leahy promised to come back with numbers on the other alternatives.

Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or sheets@heraldnet.com.

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