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Newspaper Archive of
The Issaquah Press
Issaquah, Washington
February 11, 2009     The Issaquah Press
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February 11, 2009
 

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THE ISSAQUAH PRESS WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2009 A3 State of city: Progress is good Mayor's message can be seen online BY CHA/TELLE LUSEBRINK Mayor Ava Frisinger reiterated progress on city goals in her annu- al State of the City address last week and said the city will fair well in 2OO9. In her address, Frisinger high- lighted each of the city's major departments as having achieved progress in the past year and expressed her gratitude to all the city's employees who made those accomplishments possible. "All the departments were work- ing very hard for the city to carry out the city's goals and mission," she said. To show her appreciation, her address was partly made with a video presentation that allowed the department heads to discuss their accomplishments and goals. Major goals reached for the Parks Department were two new parks, Squak Valley Park and Talus Neighborhood Park, that opened in 2008, according to Anne McGill, the city's parks director. The city now has more than 1,300 acres of open space and parks available for residents, Prisinger said. At the police department, offi- cers received new equipment and implemented new programs, such as the state's E-Ticket program, said Police Chief Paul Ayers. The E- Ticket program increases officer and records officials' efficiency when dealing with traffic citations and accidents. In addition, the department maintained its commitment to well-trained officers who protect and preserve the safety and securi- ty of the community, he said. Bob Brock, city Public Works director, noted that the Intelligent Transportation System has reduced traffic times and alerted drivers to emergencies and alter- nate routes. In addition, during the implementation of the system's first phase, city officials saved tax- payers nearly $2 million by apply- ing for state and local grants, Frisinger said. Also identified as an achieve- ment was the city's new radio sta- tion, 1700 AM, and the ability of the city's community center to act as an emergency shelter. Commissions, like those for sus- tainability, economic vitality and human services, also made big gains with help from volunteers to outline plans and expressions of visions for the future, Frisinger said. Volunteers with the city's Citizen Emergency Response Team and Citizen Corps organizations were tested and succeeded in aiding oth- ers through disaster relief in the past year, and as recently as the January flooding, she said. "While we are faced with chal- lenges in 2009, we still have count- less opportunities to make Issaquah a better place to live, and do business, for decades to come," Frisinger said. In fact, city officials have already started. In just the past month, theyhave responded to businesses affected by the floods by distributing and helping owners access records and information related to disaster relief and aid at the local, state and federal levels. In addition, the City Council recently passed a code revision, VIEW ONUNE Go to www.ci.issaquah.wa.us, click on the "Video Archive" link and select "2009 State of the City Video" or the City Council "February 2, 2009" link. relieving new business owners of spaces of 10,000 square feet or less from paying city transporta- tion impact fees which can range from a few thousand dollars to $70,000. The code revision also gives business owners with spaces larger than 10,000 square feet an exemption from traffic impact fees for the first 10,000 square feet. Jim Blake, city finance director, said the city is in a "good financial state going into 2009." "We will end 2009 with approxi- mately the same cash in reserves as we started with, which is 22 percent of our cash expenditures," he added. "With careful fiscal plan- ning we can make sure the city has the means to support the city and its residents." This year, expenditures include modifying the intersection of Southeast 51st Street and 220th Avenue Southeast, constructing a new multiuse artificial turf field at Central Park and building a replacement fire station from the $4.5 million bond voters approved last year. In addition, money will be spent to help restore Issaquah Creek at Squak Valley Park. Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@iss- press.com. Comment on this story at ww.w.issaquahpress.com. Comment period extended on Park Pointe project BY JIM FEEHAN The public has an extra two weeks to comment on a proposed 67-acre housing development site behind the grandstand of Issaquah High School. The project, Park Pointe, would be built in an area on the lower west slope of Tiger Mountain, directly east of the school. A draft environmental impact statement was issued Jan. 14 and the initial comment period was slated to end Feb. 13. The exten- sion is in response to the public and requests from the state Department of Transportation and the city's Public Works Department for more time to comment, said Peter Rosen, an environmental planner with the city. A Jan. 29 public meeting at City Hall had a good turn out, he said. "We had 25 people there and, so far, we've had seven people provide written comment and two people who responded by e-marl," he said. GET INVOLVED The comment period for the Park Pointe development has been extended to Feb. 27. Send com- ments to Peter Rosen, Issaquah Planning Department, P.O. Box 1307, Issaquah, WA 98027, or e-mail peterci.issaquah.wa.us. Traffic and storm water runoff were among some of the concerns expressed at the meeting, he said. The draft statement examines three alternatives for the site: The lower bench development would include about 14 acres on the lower slope with 251 residential units -- 121 single-family attached units and 130 multifamily units. The full-build, low-impact option would have a development area of about 32 acres with 344 residential units- 59 single-family detached, 145 single-family attached and 140 multifamily units. The development would be both the lower flat portion of Park Pointe and on top of the slope. The mid-slope area has a steep grade and is protected under the city's crit- ical areas ordinance, Rosen said. A no action alternative under which the property would remain undeveloped. The draft statement process is completely separate from the Park Pointe transfer of development rights to the Issaquah Highlands proposed plan, which would pre- serve Park Pointe, Rosen said. After completion of the comment period, a final environmental impact statement will be prepared. It will respond to comments received, make corrections, and explain how the analysis in the draft statement has been revised and how the draft statement alter- natives may have been modified. After the final draft statement is completed, the permit review process for the master site plan and prelimi- nary plat applications will begin. The development has been planned for 10 years, Rosen said. BY PACIFIC RIM ARCHITECTURE LTD. DENTAL PLAN This rendering illustrates the Pacific Dental Care Clinic, a three-story, 9,563- square-foot building that would be used for medical and dental offices, proposed to be at 515 Rainier Ave. N. The project has been de- signed to conform to city Cultural Business District Design Standards and will take advantage of new tech- nological and sustainable design practices. ,lty rakes a hit in sales tax 00;hift BY JIM FEEHAN the tax, the state Department of $800,000," Blake said. A new tax on Internet sales could soon have the city singing the blues. The streamlined sales tax shifts sales tax receipts from the place an item was bought to the city where it was delivered. If a person from Woodinville decides to buy a refrigerator in Issaquah and has it delivered to his house in Woodinville, the sales tax on that big-ticket item goes to WoodinviUe. The law affects only shipments or deliveries within the state. There is no change for deliveries outside the state or over-the- counter sales where customers take home goods from the store. The law is part of a national effort to make it easier to collect sales taxes on sales made over the Internet. The change shifted local sales tax revenues among local jurisdic- tions: Some gained revenue while others, such as Issaquah, experi- enced a loss. To ease the hardship on com- munities negatively affected by Revenue provided a mitigation fund to offset the losses in rev- enue, said James Blake, city finance director. Issaquah's sales tax revenues were down about $1 million in 2008 compared to the preceding year. A decline in sales tax collec- tion from construction after the boom years at the Issaquah Highlands and Talus, a downturn in the economy and the stream- lined sales tax contributed to a drop in sales tax revenues, Blake said. In crafting the city budget, Blake factored in the slowing home construction in Talus and the highlands and anticipated a $250,000 loss that would not be mitigated by the state, he said. The first mitigation payment was distributed Dec. 31. It cov- ered losses for July, August and September. Next, mitigation pay- ments will cover losses for October, November and December. In June, payments will cover net losses for the first three months of this year. "We're expecting a mitigation payment this year of $500,000 to With the downturn in the econ- omy and a slowing of consumer purchases, the future of the miti- gation payments is uncertain. Faced with that, the city might have to scale back future budgets for another 12 months to 18 months until the economy turns positive, Blake said. "I just want to see the mitiga- tion money continue through 2011," he said. Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the streamlined sales tax legislation into law in 2007 with collections to begin the following year. Gregoire requested the measure saying it "levels the playing field between in-state and out-of-state retailers." Proponents said the measure would streamline those defini- tions and allow so-called "brick- and-mortar" businesses to better compete with Internet and catalog suppliers, many of which do not collect sales tax. Reach Reporter Jim Feehan at 392-6434, ext. 239, or ffeehan@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquah- press, com. Trolley grant gets city oversight The City Council unanimously approved a financial agreement between the city, as certified acceptance agency, and the Issaquah History Museums, so members can get the trolley restoration project moving. The agreement recognizes the city will be responsible for track- ing and executing the spending for the project. In all, the History Museums will receive $471,095 in federal fund- ing for the project. To receive that, members must raise $45,821. Some funds have been raised, but the next phase of the project will include community fundraising for the remainder. City officials will be responsible for ensuring the grant money is spent in accordance with federal guidelines. During public comment, Keith Watts, president of the DownTown Issaquah Association, fully endorsed the proposal. "We want to show our support for the trolley project," he said. "We believe the project will bring many visitors and tourists to the area, which in turn translates to more dollars to businesses, espe- cially those along the route." Stop in for a Valentine special FEBRUARY 13 ONLY! 12-month sweet CD APY