News

City Hall on shaky ground

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

Bonney Lake's new City Hall appears to have run into a road block.

"Right now City Hall is almost a dead issue," Mayor Bob Young said. "Because it is an election year the council is having trouble making decisions. There's no political will to make any decision. My recommendation will be to set it aside for awhile until we can make a decision to move on."

A proposal submitted by ARC Architects, a Seattle firm hired by the city, has been to build a two story building of 31,000 square feet on a 12-acre site adjacent to Target and bordered by Fennel Creek.

According to the city's Finance Department, the cost would be about $9 million. The building would likely be funded through councilmanic bonds, which can be approved simply by a vote of the council.

Councilman Jim Rackley has suggested the option of leasing the Rainier Plaza building on state Route 410 next to Wendy's, owned by Dale VanDerschelden, a Sumner dentist.

"The interest in the first five years would be more than the lease payments," Rackley said. "I know there is a built in aversion to leasing, but we need to objectively look at this."

The building is estimated to cost about $400,000 per year to lease with $2 million in tenet improvement fees to the city.

The mayor and some council members have balked at leasing.

"When you consider everything with building and leasing, in five years it looks like a wash," Young said. "But when you figure the lost value on an appreciating building, that's different. And in five years when building prices continuing to climb, will there be the political will to build it then, when it costs 50 percent more?"

Rackley said he has received complaints from citizens concerning building city hall.

"Everywhere I go I'm getting questions about why this wasn't put to a vote," Rackley said. "Leasing could give everyone a breather to figure out the best solution."

The need for more space is evident with offices spread between City Hall on Bonney Lake Boulevard and the City Hall Annex located off Sumner-Buckley Highway.

The Police Department and East Pierce Fire and Rescue are housed in the Public Safety Building.

"I think we need to look at the properties we already have and find a solution," Councilman Neil Johnson said. "We do need a new City Hall, but there is a lot of dialogue about the size and type. I'm not interested in leasing, but I think we can agree to something this year."

According to Young, the contract for the acreage near Target will close this week. The city will pay $1.1 million to T&S Properties. If the city does not build on the site in five years, T&S has an option to buy the property back.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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