Issaquah City Council sets ambitious goals for 2012
June 14, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Top priorities include downtown parking, Economic Vitality Commission
NEW — 8 a.m. June 14, 2011
Less than a month after gathering to brainstorm ideas for the coming year, City Council members set ambitious goals for 2012, including possible solutions for cash-strapped Lake Sammamish State Park, a more citizen-friendly budgeting process and a commission to address economic vitality.
The council OK’d the list June 6, and sent Mayor Ava Frisinger priorities for the months ahead. The decision represents the initial step in the process to shape the 2012 municipal budget. The unanimous decision came after council members met for a rare Saturday meeting May 14 to outline goals.
“In my view, these are a balanced set of goals that cover just about every aspect of city government,” Councilman Fred Butler said during the June 6 meeting. “There’s something in there for everyone.”
The list calls for the city to join with the DownTown Issaquah Association and the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce to determine options for a structured parking study. Issues related to downtown parking — a headache during ArtWalk, Fenders on Front Street and other summertime events — emerged as the top priority at the retreat.
The proposed Economic Vitality Commission could handle a marketing plan to attract businesses, consider opportunities to improve signage options for merchants, review municipal permitting and inspection processes, and produce annual report cards on strategies recommended in the 2005 Economic Vitality Plan.
“As the economic times in the country and in Issaquah begin to make some turnarounds, I think this is going to be an extremely important and very vibrant commission,” Councilwoman Eileen Barber said. “I hope lots of people will put their hand up to serve on this particular commission.”
Butler lauded the proposed commission as “something I believe will serve us very, very well” as the city rebounds from the recession.
The goals call on city leaders to identify strategies to join other public entities and private organizations to “enhance” Lake Sammamish State Park. The potential solutions could include transferring the park from state to city ownership, or Issaquah annexing the unincorporated King County parcel containing the lakefront park.
The state parks system has fallen on hard times in recent years due to budget cuts.
In April, the Legislature created $30 annual and $10 day-use parking passes for state parks and recreation lands. The aim is to generate about $60 million to offset state cuts. The recreation passes enter use at Lake Sammamish State Park and other facilities next month.
“Lake Sammamish would be a charm if we could do something,” Barber said.
Transparency emerges as focus
Councilman Tola Marts initiated the goal to incorporate more transparency into the municipal website. The priority calls for pages related to city boards, commissions and task forces to include links to meeting information, meeting minutes, staff presentations and constituent feedback. (Overhauling the municipal website is a separate goal for 2012.)
The goal also recommends for draft meeting minutes, presentations and feedback to be posted online by five business days after a meeting. The final minutes should also be posted by five business days after adoption.
The city also included a goal to hire a part-time lobbyist to promote Issaquah in Olympia.
The list also includes recreation-related goals: improvements to the aging Julius Boehm Pool and construction on a mountain biking-skills course near Central Park in the Issaquah Highlands.
In order to create a more citizen-friendly budgeting process, council members called for more public notice for sessions and posting constituent feedback online after each meeting.
The proposed budget should include additional information about past expenditures for a particular line item.
The council also directed municipal departments to develop and submit a set of appropriate metrics to measure performance.
Officials set a goal to develop a strategic plan to reduce energy use and waste.
The council also intends to bring HealthPoint — a network of nonprofit community medical and dental clinics — to Issaquah before a human services campus opens in the city.
In addition to the 11 goals, the list includes a directive to establish a council review process for the Central Issaquah Plan — a blueprint to guide redevelopment in the 915-acre commercial core — and a separate item to discuss the agreement underpinning Eastside Fire & Rescue.
Still, despite the breadth of the proposals, the priority list for 2012 does not encompass every important issue facing Issaquah, as Councilman Joshua Schaer pointed out.
“Nowhere on this year’s goals do any of them actually deal with projects that will improve transportation mobility in the city,” he said. “Only the parking garage ones really tangentially related to transportation.”