Concerned residents packed a Bothell City Council meeting July 29 to provide testimony on the location of a new city hall facility that is due to open by 2012.
Their message was unanimous: don’t build it near the Park at Bothell Landing.
City Manager Bob Stowe has recommended a site near that location, following advice from downtown planning consultants.
But many residents are fretting about how a city hall in that area would affect the nearby park, which is home to the Lytle House and Bothell’s first school, both registered landmarks.
“I think it would overshadow the historic buildings that exist there now,” said Bothell resident Sue Sivyer, after testifying. “That big building would draw attention away from that beautiful area that’s so appealing to citizens and visitors. City hall would be intimidating there.”
More than 30 people signed a request for placing the new municipal headquarters at Bothell’s existing City Hall site and expanding the Park at Bothell Landing.
Stowe told the Reporter that he stands behind his recommendation, but respects the public process and comments.
He later added in an e-mail:
“The City Council is developing a remarkable revitalization dream for the Bothell community and public input and feedback is vital to ensure its success.
“Regardless of which location council ultimately chooses for a city hall site, city staff is committed to fully supporting that final decision and will work to ensure the property is developed in accordance with council’s vision, and completed efficiently, effectively and with fiscal responsibility.”
The Bothell Council has set aside $38 million in its capital-facilities plan for a new 56,000-square-foot city hall that would house the city’s 114-member administrative staff, which is expected to grow in the future.
The city spent $6.5 million to purchase nearly 3 acres of commercial property — known as the Beta Bothell site — near the Park at Bothell landing for use in realigning the intersection where Main Street and highways 522 and 527 converge.
Placing the new municipal headquarters on surplus land at that location is one option that the city is considering.
Other alternatives include the existing City Hall site along 101st Avenue Northeast, and the historic Anderson building, situated on the Northshore School District’s downtown property along 527.
City officials have repeatedly stated that none of the proposed options would reduce or shrink the Park at Bothell Landing.
Stowe claims that building city hall at the Beta-Bothell site would allow the facility to serve as a terminus for 527 while making a statement about the city’s commitment to downtown revitalization.
Hostility toward this idea has been evident since siting discussions first began.
Former City Councilmember Andrea Perry voted last December against paying for a study of the three potential locations.
“The (downtown planning committee) had already recommended the current site,” she told the Reporter at the meeting. “Having it at the park was not discussed until the very end, and there wasn’t much support for it.”
The City Council eventually approved a siting study after Perry left office.
“There was opposition before, and $50,000 later, there’s still opposition,” Perry said.