January 4, 2011
2011 goals: Building on success of 2010
Issaquah reached numerous milestones in 2010.
In the steps to preserve Park Pointe on Tiger Mountain, the city inched closer to a lasting environmental legacy. The bevy of road upgrades offered real transportation solutions and quality-of-life improvements for Issaquah residents.
Though many of the main city issues attracted attention in 2010, the ramifications should continue to be felt in 2011.
Here, then, is our list of our goals — some significant and some small — for the year ahead:
Park Pointe: We look forward to the Park Pointe transfer of development rights concluding in 2011 and opening more than 100 forested acres on Tiger Mountain to public use.
Planning: The city is in the midst of a huge planning effort to define redevelopment in the business district for decades to come. The initial step focuses on 90 acres owned by Rowley Properties. The goal for building designs for the area is that it not seem dated in 10 or 15 years. Rather, focus on flexibility to produce a timeless result with occasional upgrades.
Elections: June marks the deadline for candidates to enter races for open City Council, Issaquah School Board and Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District seats. The last elections for open local seats two years ago attracted only a handful of candidates. Qualified citizens, please come forward!
Parks: Budget cuts have hurt our state parks, including our beloved Lake Sammamish State Park. It’s time to establish a nonprofit friends group for the park in order to raise funds and marshal volunteers to help. A friends group could facilitate donations to the park, together with the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Trout Unlimited, local scouting organizations and others — corporations and nonprofit organizations — for planned but unfunded park improvements.
Roads: The city must finally design a road-widening plan for Newport Way Northwest and better move traffic in an alternative to Front Street.
Economy: Issaquah has bucked the trend and filled many vacant and new storefronts, but persistence is needed to attract future businesses. The city economic development director, the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce and the DownTown Issaquah Association need to identify businesses needed here and seek to fill vacant commercial properties. Only then will businesses be attracted to proposed retail space in the Issaquah Highlands.
Fees: City residents enjoy low fees — sometimes too low. The $25 annual senior citizen pass for the community center and pool is at the top of the list. We encourage city leaders to increase fees incrementally in order to generate needed dollars and avoid later sticker shock when fees double or triple. Another case in point is the free Route 200 bus, soon not to be free.
Environment: Issaquah is noted for its focus on sustainability. It’s time for the city to create a meaningful Earth Day celebration that includes a citywide cleanup. More land should be opened to community gardens to meet the needs of half of the city population residing in multifamily homes. And bring back our beautiful downtown flower baskets!
Bellevue College: The college should take all necessary steps to secure 20 acres in the highlands for a future campus. Those steps are likely to include donations, primarily from those businesses that will benefit from education and training programs for current and future employees.
Annexation: The time has come to take the potential Klahanie annexation off the table. Though adding the community to Issaquah may have once made sense, there is little reason for the city to take on another 10,000 residents and little will for the residents to take on their share of city debt. The city should cease allocating resources to studying the annexation.
Swedish Medical Center: The initial phase of the hospital — the outpatient facilities and medical office — is scheduled to open this summer. The community should embrace the addition as a valuable source of jobs and health care for the region.
Education: Despite budget cuts, the Issaquah School District should do its best to keep down class sizes, seeking more help from the Issaquah Schools Foundation and PTSA organizations to back-fill an even greater budget hole created by state cuts.
Legislature: Issaquah has a sizeable delegation from three legislative districts, and we hope to see real leadership from the legislators representing the city and nearby areas as they put their collective heads together to seek a balanced budget. We expect to see Sen. Cheryl Pflug improve her spotty attendance record and give citizens the representative they deserve.