Council mulls options as youth club plans move

Public invited to weigh in Feb. 21 at City Hall
By Nicholas Johnson | Jan 25, 2017

While most of Mukilteo’s city councilors say they want to help, in some way, the local Boys and Girls Club pay for its new facility destined for Harbour Pointe, none have settled on exactly how best to do so.

That’s why, in a 6-1 vote, the council on Jan. 17 set a public hearing for 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at City Hall. Councilor Randy Lord dissented, saying the decision to hear from the public was premature and “emotional.

“When we set a public hearing, it sends a message that we’re going to do something,” he said. “We just don’t yet agree on how much and how we’ll pay for it. I don’t know that we’re going to spend any money yet. If we had the intention to do this, don’t you think it would have been in our budget.”

In 2006, the Boys & Girls Club signed a 30-year lease for property on 47th Avenue West and an agreement to open the new building in Harbour Pointe, near the Mukilteo Family YMCA and Kamiak High School.

“We’ll be able to do a lot more for the youth of Mukilteo, both location-wise and space-wise,” said Chuck Davis, director of the local club.

The 18,000 square-foot building planned for 11600 47th Ave. W. is expected to cost $5 million. It would feature a gym, a game room, an arts and crafts room, a computer lab, a teen room with audio-visual equipment and pool tables, a community room with a kitchen and sports fields.

When the recession hit, the club put the project on hold, returning to it in 2011 after responses to a community survey suggested they go forward with the project. Since then, the club has been working to secure funding.

“We didn’t approach the city with this until about a year ago once we started getting closer, but we have talked with the mayor and others about this for years,” Davis said.

Councilor Scott Whelpley said not only does the club deserve city support, a decision must be made as to the fate of its longtime home on 2nd Street: Hawthorne Hall, which was built by employees of the Crown Lumber Company and, in 1993, added to the city’s register of historic places.

“The Boys and Girls Club is leaving,” said Whelpley, adding that the club, which was established in 1961, is “as iconic as the lighthouse” and “is integral to this city.

“That building is going to be empty. What are we going to do with it? Either way, it’s going to be dollars out of the city’s pocket.”

Councilor Steve Schmalz said the city has enough discretionary money to help out regardless of whether the building is sold.

“We have the money to do this,” Schmalz said, adding that he hopes the club’s new gym and ball fields would be open to public use when not being used for club programs.

Davis said that’s been the plan all along. He also said the club has been willing to include a 2,000-square-foot room dedicated to the Mukilteo Senior Association, which currently meets at Rosehill Community Center, if the association pays for the additional space.

The club plans to break ground as early as June, and move in by October 2018, regardless of whether the city commits any amount of financial support, Davis said.

“We would like to see if they would be willing to sell the property and put the net proceeds into the new building or if they can come up with some other money in the budget and help us out that way,” Davis said.

The club currently has a roughly $585,000 shortfall, according to a city staff presentation given Jan. 17 to the council. If the hall could be sold for $500,000, city staff estimate net proceeds would be between $386,100 and $416,100.

“There’s still going to be a gap in the funding,” Community Development Director Patricia Love told the council.

Love said if the city decides to sell, it would need to either remove the hall from its register of historic places or amend the comprehensive plan.

If the city decides not to sell, but rather keep the hall and put it to some other use, maintenance and operations costs could be roughly $250,000, Love said.

“It seems like there are a whole lot of questions and not a whole lot of answers,” said Lord, who said he wants to see a written ask from the club specifying exactly how much money is needed from the city.

“At this level, the last time anything like this was done was like 15 years ago when the YMCA was built and we contributed about $300,000. I love the idea of looking at how to help them, but we haven’t investigated it fully yet. What about the needs of other community service groups? I just want to be fair and equitable with the resources we have.”

Lord said he would have preferred to wait until after the council holds a retreat Jan. 28 at which they plan to discuss their priorities.

“There will be a room full of people saying, ‘Thank you for agreeing to support us,’” Lord said. “Now I get to be the bad guy who says, ‘Well, I haven’t decided we are going to support anything yet.”

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