Let’s reclaim our community center

By Kevin Stoltz, Mukilteo City Councilmember | Apr 11, 2012

The new Rosehill Community Center has been open for over a year now. Although the community center has the Rosehill room open to the public, unlike other city buildings, including City Hall and the Chamber Office, the community center is the only building that doesn’t have a meeting room for community groups and others to meet in at no charge.

Recent decisions by the council are expanding the gap between wedding event use and community use of the community center.

When it comes to the community center, I’ve learned the hard way there’s no way the community is going to get additional hours or space in the community center if the perception is that it will in any way cost the city money or potential lost revenue.

Finally, I have a proposed solution that will provide Mukilteo residents with a community meeting room without any adverse impact to rentals or cost the city any money.

In a nutshell, here’s how it would work:

• The Christiansen room (at the far end of the community center) would be dedicated exclusively to the use of the Mukilteo Seniors and as a community meeting room.

Most of the Mukilteo Seniors activities occur during the day and most community group meetings would be during the evenings – a perfect and highly efficient combination.

• There would be no charge to use the room and usage would be subject to the following limitations (similar to the Mukilteo Library meeting room, see www.sno-isle.org/assets/3070_20120202101651.pdf): The room is limited to noncommercial organizations and activities which promote the welfare of the community, are open to the public and no admission is charged.

• The community meeting room would be available for use not only during the hours Rosehill is normally open to the public, but also the extended hours available to private groups (Fridays and Saturdays after 5 p.m. and all day Sunday).

During the extended hours, users of the community meeting room would be provided with a key that allows external access to the room only and not the rest of the community center.

• Scheduling of the community meeting room would be via an online reservation/scheduling system provided at no charge by a local Mukilteo company (USchedule.com).

Of course, as in the past, there will be objections by some Mukilteo officials. The most prevalent objection that unfortunately has won over the council for the past several years (even with the old Rosehill) is that the rooms are at capacity or will be soon and we can’t afford to jeopardize rental income for “free” use.

Recently, I submitted a public records request in an effort to see what the actual utilization of rooms in the community center was in relation to their capacity.

Unfortunately, only the schedule information was available and not the utilization figures. So, I headed up an analysis of the actual room utilization.

The results show plenty of capacity now and in the future to support a community meeting room as proposed without an adverse impact on city finances. For your own copy of the results, simply email me at kstoltz@ci.mukilteo.wa.us and ask for the Rosehill utilization chart.

I’ll be presenting the community meeting room concept to the council at the next regular council meeting on April 16 and recommending that it go before the Parks and Arts Commission for public comment and further refinement.

Extending the hours OUR community center is open to the community is another sore point that unfortunately has no solution in sight. Rosehill closes to the public at 5 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday and is closed to the community on Sundays. However, the community center is open for paid private events when closed to the community.

The balance between weddings and community use of the community center isn’t where it should be. The council just approved renting out both the grounds and the plaza area for weddings, yet there wasn’t even a mention of what the community gets in return.

After the lottery held on April 1, most of the weekends during the summer months of both 2012 and 2013 are already reserved. At best, the city is charging half the going rate for renting the Point Elliott room for wedding events. A 10-hour block on the weekends costs at most $1,600.

A recent study of more than 11,000 wedding respondents in 2011 shows that in our area (and specifically Mukilteo, see http://www.costofwedding.com/index.cfm/action/search.weddingcost/zipcode/98275/cat/15/item/98) the average cost is $4,000 for a reception location.

At $1,600, the city is literally leaving money on the table, which could justify extending the community center hours for the community. Unfortunately, at this point, even if Mukilteo officials do wise up, the rates are locked in due to booked rentals until 2014.

To discuss this topic or any other city topic you’re interested in, please join Councilmember Steve Schmalz and myself this evening between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. in the Rosehill room at the community center.

The preceding feature is published the second Wednesday of each month for The Beacon and is the opinion of Kevin Stoltz and may or may not represent the views of the Mukilteo City Council.

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