Task force to guide future of business district

October 6, 2009

By Staff

A 12-member task force will spend the next year mapping the future of the Central Issaquah Plan, a document that will outline growth and redevelopment in the commercial heart of the city.

The new Central Issaquah Plan Advisory Task Force will help guide redevelopment in the area. Planners envision the area — now a string of strip malls along busy thoroughfares — will evolve into a town center connected by pedestrian walkways and mass transit, possibly light rail. City officials designated the commercial area, 915 acres along Interstate 90, as the Central Issaquah Sub-area in 2007.

Mayor Ava Frisinger announced the creation of the task force last month. For the next 12 months, the group will meet to discuss housing, parks, transportation and other land use issues. By September 2010, the task force is scheduled to present a recommendation to the city Planning Policy Commission for review.

After commissioners and the public review the draft, the document will head to the City Council for action. If the council approves the plan, the design and development standards in the Central Issaquah Plan would be used to guide redevelopment in the affected area.

Former Councilman Joe Forkner, task force chairman, said the group would not present a specific vision of how buildings should look or where to place them. Rather, the task force would recommend the best way to balance land use and growth by recommending design and development standards.

The task force met for the first time Sept. 29. Forkner said he was unsure before the meeting whether the group could tackle the long list of issues in a year. After the meeting, however, he said the group of committed and creative people would be able to produce results.

“There is a lot of expertise and a lot of hard workers,” he said.

Frisinger also appointed Ken Konigsmark, a longtime environmental advocate, to the task force. Konigsmark described the mission of the group as “looking ahead 30 years and, right now, planning a conscious effort of how this city can grow.”

In addition to land-use issues, Konigsmark said the group would work to define incentives to encourage redevelopment in line with the Central Issaquah Plan and recommendations from the task force. He said it would be crucial for the group to preserve the character of the city.

“It isn’t just Anytown, USA,” Konigsmark said. “This place has a natural environment and people are connected to that.”

At the next task force meeting, Oct. 27, members will discuss transportation and mobility issues. Konigsmark said he expects a potential Sound Transit light rail line to Issaquah to be a topic. Early planning would be key, he said, if officials and residents are serious about bringing light rail to the city.

“If we don’t know that and we don’t plan for it, we’re not going to have light rail,” he said.

Besides Forkner and Konigsmark, the group includes representatives from the city Development and Planning Policy commissions, major landowners and Costco, the largest employer in Issaquah.

The task force will use as a foundation the Central Issaquah Plan developed by city planners and reviewed by the Planning Policy Commission. A series of public workshops was also key to jumpstarting the Central Area Plan process.

“Central Issaquah is integral to our economic vitality,” Frisinger said in a news release. “In turn, we want to ensure Issaquah develops the best plan possible for our community’s future based on the input we have received. The task force volunteers represent a wide range of expertise and important perspectives to help us achieve just that.”

Central Issaquah Plan Advisory Task Force members

-Joe Forkner, former city councilman

-Aaron Barouh, Gilman Village

-Peter Kahn, Costco director of real estate development

-Ken Konigsmark, environmental advocate

-Mary Lynch, Issaquah resident

-David MacDuff, Mountains to Sound Greenway board

member

-John Milne, Swedish Medical Center medical director for strategic development

-Mel Morgan, Development Commission member

-Lisa Picard, Rowley Properties Inc.

-Sajal Sahay, Planning Policy Commission member

-Tom Sessions, Issaquah business community member

-Steve Willard, Cascade Business Park

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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