Issaquah City Council approves city arts grant recommendations

Also: The council holds a public hearing for a potential off-leash dog park.

At the Feb. 5 Issaquah City Council meeting, the council approved an economic development plan, providing a roadmap for economic development activities over the next three years.

The council also conducted a public hearing and listened to a presentation regarding multi-family tax exemption options for the future residential portion of the High Street Collection development.

Other updates:

Potential off-leash dog park

The council held a public hearing and viewed a presentation regarding the potential permanent off-leash dog park near the Issaquah Community Center. However, to continue with the project, the council will need to approve the removal of a portion of a wide right-of-way on 2nd Ave. SE.

The off-leash dog park became a priority project in the 2018 Parks Strategic Plan. Due to COVID-19, the project proposal was paused, and a pop-up off-leash dog park on Rainier Trail — where the permanent dog park is presumed to be built — became an alternative for the last two years.

Although the 2023-2024 city budget includes provisions for building a dog park, construction permits cannot be issued unless the council approves the partial vacation of the road adjacent to where the park will be located.

Issaquah resident Connie Marsh raised concerns at the public hearing. Marsh did not oppose the vacation of that land, but hoped the park could expand from dog-only uses.

“My biggest thing with this is I would prefer to have this vacation not be directly linked to a dog park,” she said. “I would prefer to have it linked to park land, not a particular function, as a public benefit.”

If approved at the March 4 city council meeting, construction could begin in late summer, and the completion of the dog park could open as early as next fall.

Approval of 2024 arts grant recommendations

The council approved Issaquah’s 2024 art grant funding. Out of the $191,400 allocated to different projects, $166,400 will go to applicants and $25,000 will be set aside for the arts in the schools grant program.

According to the agenda bill, the city arts commission reviewed 40 applicants who submitted applications under one of the three categories.

These categories include arts partnerships, which support Issaquah-based nonprofits focused on arts and culture projects; arts projects, which support organizations, informal groups or individual artists who want to create art or cultural projects for the community; and arts in the school, which supports arts and culture projects that benefit Issaquah students and teachers.

Application grants will be initiated in February. The arts in the schools granting program will release applications during the spring. Funding for these applications will align with the 2024-2025 academic year.

Wireless meter reading hardware and software

The council authorized a contract between the city and Ferguson Enterprises, initiating the wireless meter reading hardware and software project.

This project, included in the 2024-2029 Capital Improvement Plan, will begin a transition to a fully remote water meter reading system with “automated metering infrastructure” technology.

According to the agenda bill, this three-phase project will allow the city to collect data on residents’ water consumption on demand. Once fully built, residents can also use this data to check water consumption, leak detection and water usage analysis.

The current system deploys city employees once a month to collect water consumption data through truck-mounted readers. The data is processed bi-monthly.

2022 greenhouse gas emissions inventory report

The council reviewed the report of the 2022 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory.

This presentation revealed citywide emissions dropped by 16% compared to 2019 emissions.

According to the report, the Issaquah community emitted an estimated 397,878 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2022 — equating to each resident driving 24,250 miles per year in a typical vehicle.

The report found 32% of the community’s emissions came from electricity and 16% from natural gases to heat, cool and power residential and commercial buildings. Another 31% came from on-road vehicles.

Local government operations accounted for an estimated 2,314 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2022 — representing 1% of total community-wide emissions.

The report found that 21% of local government emissions came from electricity and 27% from natural gases to heat, cool and power government buildings and facilities.

Another 25% came from employees commuting, and 20% from city vehicles and equipment.

The report reinforced that the largest sources of community-wide greenhouse gas emissions are the built environment and transportation.

According to the report, Issaquah has seen significant reductions in the overall emissions associated with energy in buildings compared to 2017. However, the report noted these reductions are associated with electricity emissions from Puget Sound Energy’s fuel mix — made of natural gas and coal.

Emissions associated with other fossil fuels used in built environments have remained consistent from 2017 to 2022.

“Although the government operations inventory seems to indicate that the city is on track to meet the target of 100% renewable electricity in municipal buildings by 2025, significant work is still needed to decarbonize city operations,” the report stated.

The city council gathers at Issaquah City Hall south for their meetings. (Photo courtesy of Joe Mabel)

The city council gathers at Issaquah City Hall south for their meetings. (Photo courtesy of Joe Mabel)