Port Blakely asks City Council to delay gas station vote
December 21, 2009
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 9:20 p.m. Dec. 21, 2009
Port Blakely Communities asked the City Council to delay a planned Monday night vote to allow a gas station in the Issaquah Highlands.
The highlands developer asked the council to postpone the vote until Port Blakely addresses commercial development in the hillside community. The council was set to consider a change to the agreement between and the city and Port Blakely to allow a highlands gas station, banned when the agreement was drafted due to concerns about groundwater contamination.
Proponents and Port Blakely executives billed the gas station as a cutting-edge “energy station” with alternative fuels and electric-vehicle charging stations.
“Conversations about the energy station with both the city and the local community have been very productive over the past few months,” Port Blakely President Alan Boeker wrote in a Dec. 21 letter to Mayor Ava Frisinger. “The strong merits of the energy station, however, are often overshadowed by a larger question — the timing on the successful development of a vibrant mixed use town center.”
Highlands residents subjected Port Blakely to criticism in the last several months because additional commercial development failed to materialize in the highlands. Boeker said the gas station issue would be revisited during the first quarter of next year.
“We know this question is of great interest to the entire community, which shares our goal of moving forward with the town center,” Boeker wrote. “Further discussions will help everyone understand where we are today and what can be done to help accelerate development.”
Supporters said highlands residents want a gas station for convenience and safety, when severe weather occurs and residents need fuel. Detractors argued a gas station would be a poor fit for a community billed as “green” and pedestrian-friendly.
Even without the gas station decision, council members faced a full docket Monday night. Early in the meeting, the council members OK’d the 2010 city budget.
After several adjustments and weeks-long deliberations, the City Council adopted the $99 million budget. The budget did not include property tax or rate increases.
Mayor Ava Frisinger proposed a leaner budget for next year for a city with fewer employees and capital projects planned. Frisinger unveiled a tight 2010 budget in early October, and council members tweaked the document between then and Dec. 7, when the council readied the final budget for adoption.
The council delayed several big-ticket items — everything from expanded bus service to roadwork — to save money.
The budget delays a planned Route 200 Metro Transit service extension to Talus and the Issaquah Highlands, although the council will revisit the issue in early 2010. The route was scheduled to begin service to Talus and the highlands next September.
The city will save $135,000 because the budget cuts money for improvements to the Intelligent Transportation System, a series of traffic signals interconnected to smooth traffic flow.