June 15, 2010
Despite chatter to the contrary, the Central Issaquah Plan that will shape the future of the present business district remains very much unfinished, as a task force of city board members, business owners, environmentalists and residents works to complete a recommendation.
Mayor Ava Frisinger and the City Council hope the final plan guides development on 915 acres south of Interstate 90 in coming decades.
The conversation about a possible downtown park complex and greenbelt through the urban core, an efficient inner-city transit system, urban residences amidst commercial districts and other exciting prospects are still visions. Stay tuned to learn more this fall as the vision comes to the community for input.
When the task force delivers a draft in early fall, the real work begins. Planning Policy Commission members will work to refine the plan, and then send the draft to the City Council.
The long process will also allow plenty of opportunities for the public to weigh in on the final result. In the meantime, residents may attend task force meetings, although that discussion is limited to task force members.
Though tangible results remain years from fruition, the final document should provide a sweeping roadmap to redevelopment in the city’s commercial core.
Central Issaquah could be reshaped from car-centric sprawl defined by strip malls into a walkable community a place where — to borrow a phrase from the Issaquah Highlands developer — residents can live, work and play in close proximity to amenities.
Though the plan could remake Issaquah as we know it, we have faith in the task force and its chairman, former City Councilman Joe Forkner, to preserve Issaquah’s character and small-town charm. Early hints at the final plan hint at emphasis on greenbelts and mass transit — both encouraging signs for a “green” city such as ours.
Though the plan remains a work in progress, the city and Rowley Properties have already taken the steps necessary to turn 90 acres of strip-mall suburbia into part of the final vision. The public-private partnership shows the willingness of the city to use private dollars and ingenuity for the public good. Frisinger and her team, as well as Rowley executives, deserve credit for pursuing the agreement.