Mayor predicts ‘momentous year’ in State of the City speech

February 15, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

City is poised to complete long-term projects in coming months

Mayor Ava Frisinger offered a bold prediction for the year in the State of the City address last week.

“2011 will undoubtedly be a momentous year for Issaquah — one that will not only reinforce the importance of our day-to-day business, but will also celebrate our larger accomplishments,” she said during the Feb. 7 address.

The can-do speech highlighted projects scheduled for completion in the months ahead, including the city-coordinated zHome townhouses and a landmark effort to outline redevelopment in the 915-acre business district.

“2010 sets high expectations for this year, and I am confident that we can meet them,” Frisinger said. “Our list of goals for 2011 is extremely impressive and yet very feasible.”

The annual address — like the spring City Council goal-setting session and the autumn budget announcement — helps city leaders outline priorities for the public.

Frisinger used the speech to shine a spotlight on long-term efforts on track to mark milestones.

The city is poised to complete the long-running effort to preserve forested Park Pointe on Tiger Mountain soon.

The push to plan and gather public input for downtown Issaquah Creek-side parks is also on track to continue throughout 2011. Ground could be broken for the initial phase next year.

Construction is also scheduled to conclude on the city-funded — and ultra-“green” — Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72 near the Issaquah Transit Center.

The city is also primed to greet the Swedish Medical Center campus under construction in the Issaquah Highlands and a YWCA affordable-housing complex not far from the hospital. The initial hospital phase — a medical office building — is scheduled to open in mid-2011 and YWCA residents could settle in as early as July.

“From zHome and the Central Issaquah Plan to large-scale open space conservation, together we can make historic steps toward achieving our shared vision,” Frisinger said to applause as the 18-minute presentation concluded.

Though fiscal issues received more attention in the 2010 address, the mayor reiterated a commitment to carefully consider spending amid the economic downturn. Frisinger delivered the address last year just months after the city endured multiple layoffs, spending cuts and a hiring freeze.

“Most importantly, we will keep a close eye on the city’s finances to ensure that we continue to operate within a responsible and balanced budget,” she said.

The anemic economy means the city has limited dollars to spend on large-scale projects in the coming months. Instead, leaders plan to focus on outlining plans for the business district and the downtown parks complex.

The address — a speech and video presentation at a council meeting — also highlighted accomplishments from 2010. Municipal department chiefs and prospective council members sat in the audience.

“As a team, we can celebrate 2010 as a very successful year,” Frisinger said.

The city opened the long-planned Interstate 90 Undercrossing, enacted a first-on-the-Eastside food packaging ordinance, installed artificial-turf fields at Central Park, participated in the Sound Shake earthquake-response exercise and restored creekside habitat at Squak Valley Park North — “one of the largest restoration projects in the city’s history,” she noted.

The mayor used the video presentation to highlight how city departments play in providing municipal services to the public.

“When all of our pieces fit together, it’s easy to see our departments share a commitment to preserving, enhancing and serving our wonderful community,” she said.

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

2010 milestones, 2011 priorities

Mayor Ava Frisinger touted milestones from last year and ongoing projects in the State of the City address last week. The highlights included:

Park Pointe

The complicated transfer of development rights agreement to preserve forested land on Tiger Mountain near Issaquah High School and open additional Issaquah Highlands land for construction is scheduled to conclude early this year. City Council and King County Council members approved agreements crucial to the project last year. Bellevue College is close to purchasing just-opened land in the highlands for a satellite campus.

Squak Valley Park North

Mountains to Sound Greenway volunteers gathered in mid-October to plant 2,042 native trees and shrubs along Issaquah Creek at the park. Throughout the summer, crews contracted by the city breached a Depression-era levee, and added tree trunks to the shallow creek to provide fish habitat.

Central Issaquah Plan

Central Issaquah Plan Advisory Task Force members recommended tall buildings — some as high as 150 feet — for the business district. The city rolled out the proposal Oct. 27, after the task force logged almost 1,000 hours to prepare the plan. If the city decides to implement the plan, any results could be decades distant. City planning committees started to review the proposal in January.

Interstate 90 Undercrossing

The link between north and south Issaquah opened to traffic Dec. 16, after years of planning and months of construction. The city had planned to start undercrossing construction in 2009, but issues related to environmental impact and right of way delayed the project.

zHome

Construction started last April on the long-planned, eco-friendly townhouse development launched with fanfare in late 2008 and then hindered by the recession. The pan-Pacific builders behind the city-coordinated project expect zHome to be completed by late spring.

On the Web

Watch the video presentation from Mayor Ava Frisinger’s State of the City address at the municipal website.

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