Sammamish council adopts criteria for Town Center funds
By KEVIN ENDEJAN
Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor
October 18, 2012 · 9:46 AM
Sammamish took a small step closer towards its vision of its Town Center on Monday night when the City Council adopted criteria to guide the use of budgeted city funds for the long-discussed project.
The council approved a reserve of $3 million for infrastructure improvements for things such as street upgrades, connections or transit access. That essentially acted as a renewal of the 2011-2012 budget plan for the next biennial in 2013-2014.
Monday’s decision also gave the OK for $1 million in storm water improvements and an additional fund of $500,000 or other infrastructure and implementation actions like parks, parking structures and land acquisition.
“Just because it is in the budget doesn’t mean we can spend it at the staff level, the final decision still has to come before the council,” City Manager Ben Yazici said.
The criteria passed in a vote of 5-2, with only councilman Ramiro Valderrama and councilwoman Nancy Whitten dissenting.
The ultimate hope for those in favor was to complete the Economic Development Plan by the end of 2013 and to be able to use the funds to draw in applicants.
“I don’t think we’re looking at turning ourselves into downtown Bellevue here ... but what we do want is stuff up here that we can take advantage of. Maybe a few restaurants or a retailer,” said Mayor Tom Odell.
Valderrama wanted to direct funds to more specific projects, amending that the $3 million specifically be designated to Southeast 4th Street — the main artery of the proposed Town Center.
“To avoid the type of indecisions or even misunderstandings of what this was originally intended, I would suggest we specify (the location),” said Valderrama, whose amendment was voted down 5-2.
Councilman Don Gerend felt placing tight restrictions on where the money could be spent would only cause problems.
“I feel we should keep the maximum flexibility there,” he said. “We might want to use those funds for enhancements related to the community center.”
Deputy Mayor John James praised the city’s thoughtful approach to drawing in developers and is hopeful the plan will become even clearer by the end of 2013.
“Tweaking, flexibility –whatever you want to call it – is probably something that is going to come out of this Economical Development Plan that we’re going to have hopefully by the end of next year,” he said.
In other news
• The City of Sammamish continued to discuss its budget Monday night. The council is scheduled to have its first reading and public hearing at the Nov. 6 meeting.
• The council unanimously voted to support the future funding of the Regional Automated Fingerprint Identification System Program in King County.
Contact Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor Kevin Endejan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-391-0363, ext. 5054.