Plan for road closures, cars and cyclists on Sunday

June 20, 2009

NEW — 6 a.m. June 20, 2009

Issaquah drivers should plan ahead for Father’s Day, when two events will affect traffic throughout the city.

Front Street North will be closed from 6 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday for Mountains to Sound Greenway Days Fenders on Front Street Car Show and Cruise. The street will be closed from East Sunset Way to Northwest Gilman Boulevard. See a map here.

The same afternoon, a bicycle ride for the LIVESTRONG Challenge will travel through Issaquah on the following roads: Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast, Second Avenue Southeast, East Sunset Way, Highlands Drive Northeast, Southeast Black Nugget Road and East Lake Sammamish Parkway.

After traveling north, the cyclists will briefly return to the city on Southeast Newport Way and Northwest Village Park Drive. Another route will also include Newport Way Northwest.

These roads will not be closed during the ride, and cyclists will be required to adhere to the rules of the road. Drivers should expect possible delays. See a map here.

DOT crews ready Front Street overpass for seismic work

June 19, 2009

NEW — 2:08 p.m. June 19, 2009

Crews working beneath the Interstate 90 overpass at Front Street are taking the first step toward strengthening the roadway to withstand earthquakes.

State Department of Transportation crews are preparing the overpass for new components. DOT spokeswoman Broch Bender said the first stage of the project is “similar to taking measurements to fit a suit.” She said the traffic impact would be minimal when the project begins in earnest this summer.

DOT crews will bring 16 bridges up to present-day earthquake standards between Richards Road in Bellevue and Winery Road near Snoqualmie. Engineers estimate the $9.4 million project will be complete by October.

Crews will strengthen columns to prevent girders from slipping off the bridge piers during an earthquake.  Bender the bridges will be able to withstand greater seismic stress after the retrofit is complete.

Columns will be swaddled in column jackets to prevent the bridge column from crumbling apart during an earthquake. Crews will also add girder stops to prevent bridge girders from sliding or tipping.

Bender said girder stops would prevent the overpass from swaying side to side in an earthquake.

Learn how to harness the Web for job searches tomorrow

June 18, 2009

NEW — 10:37 a.m. June 18, 2009

“Working the World Wide Web” is the Career Connection Issaquah topic at noon tomorrow at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church.

The program starts with a complimentary light lunch and networking, followed by interactive coaching about Internet job searching at 12:30 p.m.

In today’s volatile job market, the old practice of blindly applying to Internet postings is simply not enough. Now, the Web offers job seekers the opportunity to showcase value they can provide to prospective employers, and initiate personal relationships with hiring managers.

The church is located at the corner of Second Avenue and Southeast Darst St. The series continues July 3 with “Low Cost/No Cost Recreation” available to adults and children living on reduced incomes.

Plump up your wallet on Dump the Pump Day

June 17, 2009

NEW — 5 p.m. June 17, 2009

Concerned about saving money and cutting down on expenses? As local gas prices again begin to creep up to $3 a gallon, one of the easiest ways to keep more money in your wallet is to park your car at home and hop on public transportation.

The region’s transportation agencies are urging residents to ride a bus, train, boat, bike, take a walk or share the ride tomorrow, the fourth annual National Dump the Pump Day.

Sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, the 2009 National Dump the Pump Day encourages people to ride public transportation to save money, protect the environment, reduce dependence on foreign oil and improve our quality of life. The association’s monthly Transit Savings Report consistently ranks the Seattle metropolitan area as one of the top 10 regions for potential transit savings.

Various agencies in Washington are joining agencies across the country to ask those who’ve never tried public transportation to get on board with saving and take a new ride. Regular transit users are encouraged to make it a “zero drive” day, and only use transit.

Read more

Habitat for Humanity groundbreaking / June 11, 2009

June 17, 2009

Lobbyists tell city officials polystyrene ban could harm businesses

June 16, 2009

NEW — 9:10 p.m. June 16, 2009

City officials agreed tonight to work alongside business owners as the City Council considers a ban on Styrofoam to-go boxes and other food containers made from eco-unfriendly polystyrene.

A proposed ban would outlaw polystyrene food packaging. Critics said the material lingers in landfills long after Styrofoam trays and cups are tossed into the trash. Polystyrene is expensive to recycle, too.

But officials also raised questions about safe alternatives to polystyrene and how the ban would impact restaurants already grappling with consumers dining out less in the down economy. Council Sustainability Committee members met tonight to discuss the proposed ban.

“You know, these packages are used to serve takeout or in restaurants, and they typically last for a few minutes in terms of any use,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said. “The reality is, while we may only see them for a few minutes, the landfill and the environment sees them for tens of thousands of years.”

Read more

New school coming

June 16, 2009

By Adam Eschbach
New school coming
Issaquah High School Associated Student Body Officers Jeremiah Odom, Quinn Grisham and Bobby Johnson (from left) take a look at the model of the new high school at the ground breaking ceremony June 11. The three will be seniors this fall.

IHSGroundbreak20090611a

Issaquah High School Associated Student Body Officers Jeremiah Odom, Quinn Grisham and Bobby Johnson (from left) take a look at the model of the new high school at the ground breaking ceremony June 11. The three will be seniors this fall. By Adam Eschbach

Developer defaults on $11.5 million loan

June 16, 2009

By Warren Kagarise
Wellington Park Pointe LLC — developer of the planned Park Pointe community — has failed to make payments on a loan and defaulted on nearly $11.6 million. A default notice issued June 11 said Wellington did not meet payment deadlines for the loan.
Wellington executives have 30 days to respond to the notice from the lender. If developers are unable to reach an agreement with Regal Financial Bank, the land could be sold at public auction in as few as 120 days.
Park Pointe developers proposed building hundreds of homes on 67 acres of Tiger Mountain near Issaquah High School. But development has been slowed for years by changes to the project design, as well as protests about the impact Park Pointe would have on traffic and the environment.
Mayor Ava Frisinger said it would be inappropriate and possibly counterproductive for city officials to discuss the default notice. Frisinger said Wellington could reach an agreement with the lender before the deadline.
“Lenders and borrowers oftentimes resolve their differences well before default sales,” she said.
Meanwhile, environmental consultants and city planners are in the midst of the final environmental impact statement on the Park Pointe proposal. The statement is required before developers can apply for city permits.
City Environmental Planner Peter Rosen said city staffers were informed about the default notice a few days after the document was issued. He said consultants and planners have continued to work on the environmental impact statement.
Wellington paid about $125,000 to hire consultants to prepare the statement, Rosen said. Part of the process requires consultants to answer questions posed by residents in the draft environmental impact statement, released in January. Planners expected the final statement to be ready by August.
Rosen said Wellington could halt the final statement, but the move would be unusual. He said developers would be at a disadvantage if they intended to revive the project in the future. Time-sensitive portions of the statement — such as traffic studies — would have to be redone.
Wellington Vice President Ron Slater could not be reached for comment.
Rosen said much of the input submitted to the city came from people opposed to the construction of Park Pointe. Since the project was proposed in the mid-1990s, opponents have said Park Pointe could damage the environment, lead to more vehicles on city roads and spoil views of Tiger Mountain.
Issaquah Alps Club Vice President Ken Konigsmark said he encouraged Park Pointe developers to preserve the land and instead pursue a development rights swap with another developer.
“I was constantly telling them to stop investing more money in architects, designers, feasibility studies,” Konigsmark said.
Officials and developers considered a transfer of development rights with Issaquah Highlands developer Port Blakely Communities. If the swap were successful, additional homes would be built in the highlands instead of at the Park Pointe site.
Port Blakely would be allowed to build more densely in the highlands if the company bought the Park Pointe parcel from Wellington and then deeded the land — and an additional Port Blakely-held parcel — to the city. Then, city officials would preserve the land.
Frisinger said she remained hopeful a development rights swap would allow the Park Pointe land to be preserved.
Konigsmark said he hoped land conservancy groups would consider buying the Park Pointe land if a public auction took place. He said other developers could be attracted to the site because of the zoning.
The proposed development is within the city’s Urban Growth Boundary and the land is zoned for residential units.
Wellington considered two development options for the site: 251 residential units — 121 single-family attached units and 130 multifamily units built on 14 acres of the lower slope or 344 residential units — a mix of 59 single-family detached, 145 single-family attached and 140 multifamily units built on 32 acres on the lower tier of Tiger Mountain and atop the slope.
The developer hoped to connect Park Pointe to the defunct Southeast Bypass, a proposed roadway that would have been built across the lower slopes of Tiger Mountain between Interstate 90 and Issaquah-Hobart Road. City Council members ended plans for the bypass last year. Developers instead proposed connecting Park Pointe to the city street grid via Southeast Evans Street.
Konigsmark said developers were too ambitious with plans for Park Pointe. He said Wellington should have focused instead on a transfer of development rights with Port Blakely.
“You got what you deserved,” Konigsmark said.
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

Tiger Mountain land could go to public auction

Wellington Park Pointe LLC — developer of the planned Park Pointe community — has failed to make payments on a loan and defaulted on nearly $11.6 million. A default notice issued June 11 said Wellington did not meet payment deadlines for the loan. Read more

Council incumbent withdraws

June 16, 2009

By Warren Kagarise
David Kappler announced June 11 he would not seek re-election to the City Council — less than a week after the longtime councilman filed with King County Elections to run for another term. Kappler withdrew his candidacy with the elections office a day before the withdrawal deadline.
As he announced his intention to withdraw, Kappler said he plans to spend more time with his family and take care of his 93-year-old parents in Seattle.
Kappler said his sucessor and other council members would be forced to make tough decisions as city officials grapple with the recession. Officials cut spending by $1.6 million as a result of a $1.5 million shortfall.
Despite the downturn, Kappler said he wants the next council to plan for future transportation projects and complete and implement the Central Issaquah Plan. The document will outline future development and redevelopment on 915 acres around Interstate 90.
“Dealing with the finances is going to be the nitty gritty, but I’d like to see some vision,” he said.
Kappler, first elected to the seven-member council in 1991, is a staunch advocate for environmental preservation and a longtime member of the Issaquah Alps Trails Club. He said his post-council plans include devoting more time to the trails club. In 2006, he received the Ruth Kees Award for a Sustainable Community — the city’s top honor for people who take steps to protect natural resources.
Kappler, 60, endorsed political newcomer Tola Marts in the race to succeed him. Marts will face another newcomer, Nathan Perea, in the contest for the Position 7 council seat. Kappler said he plans to campaign for Marts.
Kappler invited Marts and several supporters to his house June 8 to discuss his withdrawal decision. Kappler said some of his supporters urged him to run again, but he cited the time commitment of serving as a councilman.
“They would love to see me on the council, but they realize 18 years is an awfully long time,” he said.
Voters will choose at least two new council members. Newcomer Mark Mullet and Councilwoman Eileen Barber face no opposition in the contests for their respective seats. Mayor Ava Frisinger is also running unopposed for a fourth term.
Candidates running unopposed could still face challenges from write-in candidates. The last day to file for election as a write-in candidate is Aug. 17, a day before the primary election.
The other contested council race will see Council President Maureen McCarry face Joan Probala for the Position 5 seat.
Kappler became the second incumbent to sidestep a re-election bid when he withdrew last week. Councilman John Rittenhouse bowed out in early June. Kappler said he plans to talk with Rittenhouse about what they can accomplish together in their remaining months as councilmen.
Kappler said he plans to ask Rittenhouse, “What things should we think about in terms of getting done?”
Rittenhouse also said the time constraints of serving as a councilman led him to re-evaluate a re-election bid. Mullet is running unopposed for the Position 1 seat held by Rittenhouse. Mullet would be the first Issaquah Highlands resident to serve on the council.
Kappler is best known for his environmental record. He ran for re-election two years ago as an opponent of the proposed Southeast Bypass. He later voted with other bypass opponents last year to kill plans the Tiger Mountain roadway.
Kappler faced criticism after the filing period for the 2007 city election when he filed for a council seat sought by John Traeger. At the last minute, Kappler withdrew his candidacy for the Position 6 seat and filed for another seat. The maneuver left Traeger as the sole candidate for the Position 6 seat. Traeger ascended to the council. Kappler went on to beat Bill Werner to retain a council seat.
Kappler considered stepping down ahead of the 2007 election, “but we didn’t have the right people” as candidates, he said.
He said he plans to complete his council term, which ends Dec. 31. He said he would continue to attend council meetings in his new role as a citizen activist.
“I’ll be there for all of the parks, trails and open space issues,” Kappler said.
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

David Kappler announced June 11 he would not seek re-election to the City Council — less than a week after the longtime councilman filed with King County Elections to run for another term. Kappler withdrew his candidacy with the elections office a day before the withdrawal deadline.

As he announced his intention to withdraw, Kappler said he plans to spend more time with his family and take care of his 93-year-old parents in Seattle.

David Kappler

David Kappler

Kappler said his sucessor and other council members would be forced to make tough decisions as city officials grapple with the recession. Officials cut spending by $1.6 million as a result of a $1.5 million shortfall.

Despite the downturn, Kappler said he wants the next council to plan for future transportation projects and complete and implement the Central Issaquah Plan. The document will outline future development and redevelopment on 915 acres around Interstate 90.

“Dealing with the finances is going to be the nitty gritty, but I’d like to see some vision,” he said.

Kappler, first elected to the seven-member council in 1991, is a staunch advocate for environmental preservation and a longtime member of the Issaquah Alps Trails Club. He said his post-council plans include devoting more time to the trails club. In 2006, he received the Ruth Kees Award for a Sustainable Community — the city’s top honor for people who take steps to protect natural resources.

Kappler, 60, endorsed political newcomer Tola Marts in the race to succeed him. Marts will face another newcomer, Nathan Perea, in the contest for the Position 7 council seat. Kappler said he plans to campaign for Marts. Read more

Voters will decide three school levies

June 16, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink
Issaquah School Board members unanimously approved presenting three school funding levies to voters in February 2010.
The Issaquah School District’s proposed package would supplement its strapped budget with more than $212 million by 2014 if voters approve it. It is a slightly amended package from the one presented to school board members May 13.
The three levies are a Maintenance and Operations Levy, a Transportation Levy and a Capital (technology and critical repairs) Levy.
For taxpayers, the total estimated tax for all levies during each year would be:
4$3.88 per assessed $1,000 in 2011
4$3.88 per assessed $1,000 in 2012
4$3.51 per assessed $1,000 in 2013
4$3.51 per assessed $1,000 in 2014
Under the proposal, there would not be a tax increase nor would the district exceed the tax rate promised by district officials in 2006, which was $3.97 per $1,000 of assessed property, said Jake Kuper, chief of finance and operations for the district.
The Maintenance and Operations Levy covers the state’s shortfall for special education, teacher salaries, highly capable learners, English language learners, Advanced Placement and honors courses, and extracurricular activities. On average, the levy would bring in $41.5 million annually.
The Transportation Levy allows district officials to purchase new buses. The one-year 2011 levy will tax each household 7 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property. It will provide the district $1.7 million between 2011 and 2014 to purchase 41 buses.
The Capital Levy enables district officials to make critical repairs on buildings and purchase new computers and software for buildings. The critical repairs piece would give the district $5.6 million over four years. The technology piece was reduced from collecting about $34.8 million to collecting about $32.9 million over four years.
District officials met with board members between the May and June meetings to make reductions in the technology piece of the Capital Levy. The savings is about $1.9 million to tax payers.
The biggest impact to that levy was the elimination of full wireless connections at all elementary school buildings.
Wireless connections are being built into the new elementary school on the plateau as part of its construction costs. However, other schools will only have wireless installed in core areas of the buildings, like the library, office and multipurpose rooms, so community meetings could more easily take place.
There is additional money in the levy, however, to invest in mobile wireless carts, which can roll into specific classrooms for special events.
Full wireless installation will occur at the middle and high schools, since there is ongoing demonstrated need for wireless in every classroom and common room, administrative officials said.
Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

Issaquah School Board members unanimously approved presenting three school funding levies to voters in February 2010. Read more

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