Mountlake Terrace Civic Center

By Hawkeye Staff

The Mountlake Terrace Civic Center building was constructed in 1961, seven years after the city was incorporated in 1954. It sits on the northwest corner of the Civic Center Campus, near the cross streets of 58th Avenue and 232nd Street.
Since 1988, the City of Mountlake Terrace has undertaken several efforts to determine the fitness of the Civic Center building for fulfilling its primary role: housing many of the administrative functions of the city government, in a safe and effective manner.
After part of the roof over City Council chambers collapsed in July 2008, Mayor Jerry Smith and city officials say they’re ready to take the next step by building a new City Hall and civic campus.

Next week, the city will ask voters to approve new property taxes to pay off a 30-year bond that would finance the project.
The $37.6 million plan, created in 2008 with help form a volunteer task force, calls for building a new three-story, 34,000-square foot City Hall according to strict environmental standards. It’s a complete revamp of the downtown civic campus, with a new police station, underground parking, amphitheater and an 8,500-square foot community center that will double as the city’s senior center.
“Mountlake Terrace has never had much of a downtown, ever,” Councilwoman Laura Sonmore said, recalling a 1990 series of arson fires that destroyed many businesses. “It’s a way to change citizens’ lifestyles.”
The Civic Campus would include a community/senior center, public meeting spaces, police station, city offices, emergency operations center, a civic green connecting to Veterans Memorial Park, enhanced streets capes, ornamental garden, spray fountain, and a amphitheater as recommended by the volunteer Civic Facilities Advisory Task Force.
The plan would include sustainable construction practices and provide for year-round events such as farmers markets, public safety fairs, senior activities, dance recitals, art shows outdoor movies, and concerts.
If voters say yes, property owners wouldn’t begin paying the new tax until 2012. Under the proposal, the owner of a $256,200 house, which is the average home price in the city, would pay $3.48 a month in additional property taxes in 2012. That owner would pay $19.27 a month in additional property taxes from 2013 through 2040.
“If we don’t act now, then we don’t know what the future is going to hold in this volatile political climate having to do with finances and building construction,” Councilman John Zambrano said.
City Manager John Caulfield called the estimated civic center price conservative, noting that cities have been taking advantage of a competitive bidding environment to keep costs down.
“It’s very likely that the project is going to come in at a much lower cost than $37 million and that the impact to average resident is going to be lower than $19 a month,” he said.
If a majority of voters say yes, construction would begin in 2012 and be completed by mid to late 2013, Caulfield said.
He said city officials decided to ask the public to approve new taxes because the project’s estimated $2.6 million annual cost is more than the city has available.
Interest on the debt will amount to about $67 million over the life of the bond.