City Council will consider spending $20,000 to study feasibility of human services campus

July 21, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

Before city officials take steps to establish a human services campus, they will consider spending up to $20,000 next month to partner with a Redmond social services center to plan for a similar facility in Issaquah.Council Services & Operations Committee members discussed the proposed agreement July 16. Members agreed to send the measure to the full City Council for review when the council meets Aug. 17.

The agreement would enable officials at a Redmond nonprofit organization, the Family Resource Center, to conduct a study to help Issaquah officials locate a suitable site for a human services campus, engage in business planning and provide legal assistance.

A group of nonprofit, business and government leaders was formed in 2006 to research the creation of a human services campus. Officials envision the campus as a central point from which to aid people in need of food, healthcare and employment.

Money from the developer of the Talus community would be used to pay the $20,000 fee, per an agreement between the developer and the city.

City Council members included establishment of the campus among nine goals they set for 2010.

The Family Resource Center would spearhead a study that would in turn help Issaquah officials develop a human services campus.

Councilman John Rittenhouse, a proponent of the human services campus legislation, said the study would provide a framework that city officials could follow.

“It’s not telling you what outcome you should get it,” Rittenhouse said. “It’s telling you how to evaluate scenarios and decide how to get the outcome you want.”

Councilwoman Eileen Barber, Services & Operations Committee chairwoman, said she supported the human services campus concept. But she raised questions about the involvement of the Family Resource Center and whether the organization could benefit from the Issaquah affiliation.

“If we’re asking somebody that’s been involved in this process and they potentially could benefit from this, I just want to make sure that the study that we get back is unbiased,” Barber said. “That they’re using independent agencies to provide information to get the absolute best feasibility study we can, as opposed to somebody coming to this process already with a vision and already somewhat biased because they’re involved in it.”

Organizers created the Family Resource Center in Redmond 18 years ago. The facility includes offices for a broad range of resources, including affordable housing assistance, and medical and dental services.

Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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