Council discusses Town Square Park funding, Community Recovery Center updates

The Lynnwood City Council at its Tuesday, June 21, business meeting discussed how the city will finance the Town Square Park acquisition, among other agenda items.

Councilmembers heard from Deputy Parks Director Sarah Olson at the June 13 meeting regarding how the city will purchase the $8 million plot of land and requested more information on various funding possibilities.

Finance Director Michelle Meyer

On Tuesday, Lynnwood Finance Director Michelle Meyer suggested that the city do a 10-year payment plan on the property and told the council there were three main options.

The first option would be to use $4 million in parks impact fees and use debt service for the remaining $4 million. With a debt service interest of 4% annually and an overall service fee of $500,000, the total cost of the park property would be $9 million.

If the council chooses the second option, the city will pay $2 million using park impact fees and use debt service for $6 million. With the same interest rate and an overall service charge of $750,000, the total cost of the purchase would be $9.5 million.

However, Meyer said city staff are hoping council chooses the third option, which wouldn’t use any park impact fees and instead cover the entire acquisition cost through debt service. This would bring the total cost of the property to $10 million with interest and fees.

While the third option might seem the least advantageous, Meyer said it would be in the city’s best interest to not deplete the park impact funds.

“[We should leave the impact fees alone so they can go] toward current park development projects that we will see over the next 10 years,” Meyer said. “We really don’t want to draw down the park impact fees too low so that we don’t have match funding on hand to go after additional grants.”

If council picks the third option, the park impact fees can be used to benefit the people living here now, rather than benefit those living in the area 10 or more years from now, when development of Town Square Park is set to begin.

Various councilmembers voiced approval for each option, but didn’t reach an agreement during the meeting on their preferred choice. The council is set to again discuss the topic at next week’s meeting.

In other business, Olson also spoke about the Lynnwood Convention Center use days. The city is allowed to use the convention center for four days throughout the year without paying a rental charge.

According to Olson, some policy changes were made around 2007 regarding how the council decides to spend the days. However, those policy changes have not been closely followed, and old policies from 2003 are still being used.

“[We basically want] to know: how would you like to see use day items come before council?” Olson asked.

Olson also noted that if a large number of food or drink services is purchased for the event, the rental fees are waived regardless. It would be in the council’s best interest, Olson said, to consider that when deciding which events should be used as one of the four free days.

“While we’ve had a variety of reasons to use the use days for community events, festivals, partnerships and city functions,” Olson said, “we’re recommending that we go back to the original intent of the [2007] council resolution and focus the use days on community events and festivals, and direct city functions to … facility rentals or [make sure] they’re the kind of events that are going to meet the food and beverage minimum and won’t use a use day.”

The council also heard from Deputy Chief of Police Chuck Steichen regarding updates to the Community Recovery Center.

According to Steichen, modifications need to be made to the new Community Justice Center so the recovery center can be built as an add-on to the building. These changes include modifications to the foundations and substructure of the garage and building, as well as the redesign and movement of service areas within the jail to accommodate the Community Recovery Center addition.

The cost of these improvements will be approximately $2.3 million. 

Councilmember Shannon Sessions asked Steichen if there was any way the added costs could be rolled into the part of the project the state is paying for. Unfortunately, Steichen said it doesn’t seem likely that the state would be willing to pay the new costs.

In addition, Steichen said if the council doesn’t approve the extra costs, the city will not be able to go forward with the recovery center, as these modifications are necessary for construction to begin. The new justice center would still be constructed, though, because its funding has already been approved.

The council will vote on the matter at next week’s meeting.

The council also met two city boards and commissions candidates: Jim Strum and Nancy Canales-Montiel.

Strum is applying for the Lynnwood Board of Ethics alternate position. Deputy City Clerk Luke Lonie said alternate positions on the Board of Ethics are extremely important and hopes the position is filled quickly.

“With such a small board, the potential for not achieving a quorum can be pretty high,” Lonie said. “So it’s almost as important to have the alternates as it is to have those primary positions.” 

Canales-Montiel is applying for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission. Councilmember Josh Binda praised Canales-Montiel for her impressive resumé and hopes she is approved to the board quickly.

“I just think that you are amazing,” Binda said. “Just going over your resumé and what you’ve accomplished at your age, I think the work you do is so vital for this commission. And I’m really excited to see another younger person involved in this way.”

Councilmembers will vote on the candidates at next week’s meeting.

–By Lauren Reichenbach

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