Port Townsend OKs draft for Mountain View lease

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — A proposed new lease between the city and the Port Townsend School District for the Mountain View Commons would allow for more development of the property as a community asset, both parties say.

“We are not going to sell the property, but we are willing to enter into a long-term lease so the city can have some ownership of any improvements,” said David Engle, superintendent of the school district, which owns the facility at 1925 Blaine St.

“We want to maintain the property and keep the pool open because it benefits the entire community and the kids,” Engle said. “We want to keep it as an active asset.”

The facility was operated as an elementary school from 1963 to 2009 before the school district closed it and leased the campus to the city as the site of a police station and other offices.

The City Council approved Monday a draft memorandum of understanding that will serve as the basis for a long-term lease.

Staff members were told to provide added details about the agreement before creating a final draft.

Mountain View Commons also houses the Port Townsend Food Bank, The ReCyclery, the YMCA, Working Image, the KPTZ-91.9 FM radio studio and the municipal pool.

It also is the temporary site of about 60 percent of the Port Townsend Library, which is under renovation.

Mayor David King said the organizations housed at the campus have turned it into an important community center.

The lease of the former Mountain View School campus, for which the city pays $68,178 a year to the school district to use, expires in 2014.

The proposed agreement would maintain the same rent with a small consumer price index adjustment.

The city would pay no rent for 15 years and would channel those funds into improvements.

Among those improvements is a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, which is estimated to cost $1.9 million.

The lease would be for a term of 35 years, with an optional 15-year extension.

Subleases in the facility could be extended only to government agencies and programs.

A long-term lease is necessary to complete a state Department of Commerce grant to the city that would provide $500,000 for replacement of the deficient boilers that now heat the facility, according to the draft memorandum of understanding between the city and the school district.

Other long-term financing also will depend upon a finalized long-term lease.

The library moved to the site in May during renovation work on the Carnegie Library portion of its facility at 1220 Lawrence St.

If voters approve Aug. 6, during the primary election, a proposed $3 million library bond for renovation and expansion, then the library could occupy Mountain View for another 18 months.

If the measure is defeated, library materials most likely would be moved back into the 1220 Lawrence St. location later this year.

King said a new lease would allow the city to better plan for the use of the facility and added that it should be in place if the proposed creation of a joint city-county metropolitan parks district is approved by voters.

The measure isn’t expected to be on a ballot until sometime in 2014.

“If a metropolitan parks district is created, then the pool will be part of that,” King said. “So it makes sense to resolve some of those questions now.”

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 17. 2013 5:47PM
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