2011 goals shape vision of Issaquah’s future

The Issaquah City Council unanimously approved their goals for 2011 at a regular meeting of the council on Monday.

The Issaquah City Council unanimously approved their goals for 2011 at a regular meeting of the council on Monday.

Divided by category, the list focused mainly on Budget/Capital Facilities, Transportation, Economic Vitality, and Parks and Recreation.

In addition to setting the priorities for the city for the next 12 months and beyond, the goals let residents know which issues the council deems most important, in many ways shaping the identity of the city and codifying its hopes for the future.

The council drafted a list of possible goals during their annual retreat held May 1, with each ranked according to the votes it received from the 7 councilors and Mayor Ave Frisinger.

Near the top of that draft list was implementing Agenda Bill 6095, which authorizes a preliminary study of transportation issues in North Issaquah. The study, which will be jointly funded with Costco, will look at the feasibility of creating a Local Improvement District to improve the network of roads north of Interstate 90.

Another item the council wants to keep at the forefront of city business in 2011 is an update of the Capital Facilities Plan, which will include a 20-year assessment and implementation strategy. Currently, the Capital Improvement Plan sets out funding and prioritization in six-year increments.

Other areas of focus are assessing the need for structured parking in Olde Town, determining the city’s role in Central Issaquah storm water management, and evaluating the possibility of adding either a skateboard park or a mountain bike park in the Issaquah Highlands.

Speaking during the audience comments section of the meeting, CEO of Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce Matthew Bott thanked the council for including many of the chamber’s goals in the proposal. He went on to request that economic vitality be at the forefront of the councilors’ minds when making policy proposals and regulations.

“We know it’s there in spirit,” he said. “But we’d like it there on paper as well.”

Former City of Issaquah Council member and Redmond Family Resource Center Board member John Rittenhouse also addressed the council and expressed his concern that the Issaquah Human Service Campus was not one of the goals for 2011.

He said a recent survey commissioned by the city and conducted by the Family Resource Center showed “strong interest in a facility that would serve Issaquah.”

“I would like to encourage the council to explicitly show support for the Issaquah campus as part of your 2011 goals,” Rittenhouse said.

Ebi agreement

While council’s regular business focused on finalizing and approving the 2011 goals, the meeting also included a continuation of the June 7 public hearing on the proposed development agreement for the Ebi property located at 6033 221st Place S.E.

The agreement relates to an easement for the Interstate 90 undercrossing project, and City of Issaquah Transportation Manager Gary Costa related that both the Land and Shore Committee and the River and Streams Board recommended approval of the agreement.

The Chamber of Commerce also expressed their support.

However Issaquah resident and business owner Connie Marsh was not happy with either the approval process or the agreement. She felt the current development agreement approval process didn’t allow for the public to create change.

“We need to make a way to provide more early review for development agreements,” she said. “So there’s a clear process and change can happen.”

Beyond her frustration with the process, Marsh also took exception to the wording of the Native Growth easement, describing it as too open.

“The language allows for clearing, filling, grading and access to the creek. These are just not things that are usually in a native growth protection easement. It needs to be more clear as to what can be allowed to happen.”

During the subsequent discussion of the agreement process, Marsh’s comments were supported by a number of councilors.

Councilor Tola Marts related the Land and Shore Committee’s concerns at having received a signed agreement to review instead of being involved earlier in the process.

Adding to that sentiment, Councilwoman Maureen McCarry felt the process “undermined the agreement…and we do not want to see another one like this.”

Council President John Traeger agreed that the process happened out of order, but urged the members to keep in mind that it was general land use agreement and not a site plan.

Referencing the importance of the agreement to completing the undercrossing project, the council voted unanimously to approve.