Repairs can begin on Mountain View Commons in Port Townsend after city, school district reach lease agreement
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Malia Gifford, 10, surfaces during the open swim at Mountain View Pool in Port Townsend on Tuesday. With a lease approved by the school district, repairs on the Mountain View complex will proceed. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Improvements to Mountain View Commons can proceed now that the Port Townsend School Board has approved a 15-year lease agreement between the city and the school district.

The School Board on Monday unanimously approved the lease agreement for the complex at 1925 Blaine St., which was once an elementary school and remains owned by the district.

The City Council had approved the lease June 9. It extends the current rent agreement, created in 2009, of $5,000 per month to Dec. 31, 2019. Rent will then be $1 for the next five years.

The city is responsible for repairs to the aging complex, which houses the city police station as well as several nonprofits, including the Food Bank, the YMCA, the ReCyclery, the Red Cross and KPTZ-FM radio station.

City Manager David Timmons said a meeting with contractors will take place today to plan a schedule for two priorities: the replacement of the roof of the classroom structure and boiler replacement.

Both repairs are expected to be completed later this year, Timmons said.

The district approval of the lease was the final step needed to begin emergency repairs.

“We wouldn’t have done this if we didn’t have the lease,” Timmons said. “Now that it has been approved, we can start the process.”

The council earlier approved a supplemental budget for the repairs.

The total cost of phase one is about $2.7 million.

The city will use a $500,000 state Department of Commerce energy efficiency grant and a $300,000 state Department of Ecology grant for replacing the oil-fired boilers with those using propane.

Rick Sepler, development services director, said the project is well-positioned for a $180,000 electrical rebate program for energy improvements through the Jefferson County Public Utility District. That would lower the city’s cost to about $1.7 million.

The Mountain View complex operated as an elementary school until 2009, when the city took over the facility.

The approval of the lease also clears the way for a city ballot question asking voters to approve the purchase of $4.1 million in general obligation bonds.

The amount that the public would fund through a property tax levy would be much less — about $1.8 million, which would be paid through a property tax increase of no more than 13 cents on $1,000 of valuation for 15 years, Timmons has said.

The rest of the bonds would be paid back over 15 years through a combination of utility savings, grants and revenue from the Proposition 1 sales tax increase voters approved in 2010.

The whole amount must be voter-approved to get a better bond rate, Timmons has said.

The additional property tax revenue would subsidize the third phase of the renovation, providing a bridge between the total cost of the third phase and funds available from other sources, Timmons said.

The council is expected to determine the timing of the measure for the November, February or April ballots when it meets at 6:30 p.m. July 7 at historic City Hall, 530 Water St.

The measure would have to be submitted in August to be on the November ballot.

“Preparing the ballot measure is easy. It’s a cookie-cutter process that uses generic language,” Timmons said.

“It will take longer to get our message across.”

Timmons said the measure may have a better chance of passing in February.

“Our advisers tell us the measure would stand out in February. In November, it gets mixed up with everything else,” he said.

Once the message is crafted, voters will support the measure, Timmons feels sure.

“I think it’s a modest request that provides a lot of value to the citizens,” he said.

“The city isn’t getting a lot out of this, but it benefits the public.”

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

Last modified: June 24. 2014 7:07PM
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