By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.
The Mill Creek City Council plans to have a land-use brainstorming discussion at their April 28, 2015, meeting.
Mayor Pam Pruitt recently said that her goal for the discussion is to establish a vision for the city-owned Dobson-Remillard-Cook properties, located just north of the Mill Creek Sports Park.
Mill Creek doesn’t currently have a plan for the properties, which were purchased from 2004 to 2008 for a total of about $6 million.
Original plan was to build more sports fields
The City originally bought the land with the intention of expanding the Mill Creek Sports Park by building additional sports fields and possibly a community center.
These plans were dashed in 2009 when the cost estimates for constructing two synthetic-turf fields, restrooms, parking, sidewalks, a stormwater detention system, and facility lighting penciled out to about $9.5 million; much more than the city council wanted to spend at the time.
Everett Public Schools sports field joint venture scuttled last year
At their May 6, 2014, regular meeting, a majority of Mill Creek City Councilmembers decided against proceeding on a joint venture with Everett Public Schools to renovate a Jackson High School sports field for joint use between the school district and the City of Mill Creek.
Councilmembers Donna Michelson and Mike Todd were in the minority in voting to use $1.165 million in mitigation funds that the City has saved over the years to pay for the Jackson High School joint venture.
Mayor Pam Pruitt said that moving forward on the Everett School District joint venture was “giving up” on the concept of expanding the Mill Creek Sports Park. She said she hopes that the City can find outside funding someday that will make the expansion possible.
Councilmember Brian Holtzclaw said he wasn’t willing to wait one to five years to get another sports field for Mill Creek. He said he hopes there is a way to build at least one sports field on the City’s land north of the Mill Creek Sports Park. He wanted staff to take three to six months exploring construction and funding options.
Mill Creek Public Works Director Tom Gathmann said that city staff didn’t have the expertise to perform the sports field construction cost analysis. He said that one of the City’s on-call consultants could do the work, but it would cost about $20,000 for this work to be done.
The city council decided not to spend any money on further study and so no one really knows how much it would cost to build sports fields on the Dobson-Remillard-Cook properties.
Joint venture with Boys and Girls Club discussed last year
In 2014 then Mayor Pro Tem Mark Harmsworth started discussions with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County about a joint venture with Mill Creek, which would use the Dobson-Remillard-Cook properties for a Boys and Girls Club in conjunction with city-owned and operated sports fields.
Bill Tosoukalas, Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County Executive Director, came to the July 8, 2014, Mill Creek City Council meeting to discuss the possibility of building a Boys and Girls Club on the Dobson-Remillard-Cook properties.
Tosoukalas said that if Mill Creek supplied the property, the Boys and Girls Club would collect private donations to build the club facility and then gift back the building to the City. He estimated it would take two years or so the raise $1.5 to $2.0 million in construction costs and then another year or so to build the facility.
The city would still have to design and construct any sports fields in conjunction with the Mill Creek Boys and Girls Club. It isn’t possible to know how much it would cost to build these fields without a preliminary design and engineering study.
No decision was made to proceed on this joint venture and no one at the city has followed up with the Boys and Girls Club on this option for the Dobson-Remillard-Cook properties.
Additional potential uses for city-owned properties to be discussed
Director Gathmann listed the following additional potential uses for the Dobson-Remillard-Cook properties to be discussed on April 28th:
New Mill Creek Police Station – “Recently there have been informal discussions with SnoCOM about co-location with a police station at this site.”
New regional Sno-Isle Library – Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory expressed interest in siting a library at this location perhaps in conjunction with another Mill Creek facility or the Boys and Girls Club.
Commercial development – The city has the option of selling the land to a developer. Gathmann wrote, “At least one developer has approached the City in the past to inquire about the purchase of at least part of the property for a larger development.”