Press Editorial

May 1, 2012

By Staff

Interstate 90 off-ramps are less than welcoming

Issaquah has a lot going for it, enough that visitors come here year round, primarily for recreation. It’s appropriate that the city of Issaquah and the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce are targeting tourism with a renewed emphasis to encourage an economic rebound.

But there is one problem that needs to be addressed.

The entrances to the city from Interstate 90 are plain ugly. There is nothing welcoming about them, nothing that hints at the beauty visitors are about to discover if they take time to drive beyond a gas station, a bathroom and fast food.

The Interstate 90 off-ramps need help. Exit 18 to Sunset Way takes you past twin retention ponds and weeds. Exit 17 at Front Street has expansive weed patches. Exit 15 at state Route 900 is no better.

Other small towns have welcome signs, waterfalls, beautiful landscaping, helpful signage. Issaquah has nothing at its entrances.

The city has a new pedestrian overpass at Exit 17 that is crying for some art to set the stage. The salmon art on the overpass at Eastgate is nearly invisible. Can they be moved here? If not, can the city Arts Commission help fund something to put at our exits, something better than a wall of concrete?

The state Department of Transportation is responsible for most, if not all, of the wasteland, and the city has accepted that excuse, recognizing the state has no funds for improvements. But even when funds were available, the city didn’t champion the cause.

They should do so now. City Council members talk about partnering with the state to improve Lake Sammamish State Park, so they should be just as interested in trying to partner with the DOT.  Both the expense of the beautification and its subsequent maintenance are points to consider.

City workers do a great job along city streets and a few intersections, but first impressions count. The off-ramps should become a priority if the city truly wants to bring new businesses and new visitors to Issaquah.

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Comments

7 Responses to “Press Editorial”

  1. Connie Marsh on May 2nd, 2012 6:27 am

    Absolutely true! True, true and true.

  2. kellyp on May 2nd, 2012 1:57 pm

    Maybe the Issaquah Press Editorial staff should convince all the local business owners to stop paying for advertising in the paper and instead put money into a fund that will pay for these suggestions rather than it come out of the tax payers’ wallets.

  3. craigb on May 3rd, 2012 8:54 am

    I find it hard to believe that the presence of weeds and lack of waterfalls deters people from visiting and starting businesses in Issaquah. Is there any quantifiable evidence of this?

  4. MBott on May 3rd, 2012 9:58 am

    What a great article. I completely agree. A great city like ours needs a better way to welcome visitors, customers and potential new residents coming off the highway. It will make a big difference and first impressions matter. Why? Welcoming signage helps improve pride in the community, enhances its sense of place and serves as a way to welcome folks from all access points around the community. Did you know that the longer a visitor stays in a community to experience all it has to offer, the more inbound net new commerce stays in the community? Gas fill ups, restaurant visits, stopping by the zoo, Triple XXX Root Beer, Boehms or the hatchery, perhaps a hotel stay? Nice work to the Issaquah Press team on raising this issue.

  5. Dave on May 3rd, 2012 11:01 am

    I’ve been amazed at how little pride the City takes in it’s appearance. Providing a more welcoming entry would be a good start. Maybe the tax / permit revenue stream from the (approved?) Highlands Retail could provide funding for this?

  6. Smoley on May 7th, 2012 4:12 pm

    From what I’ve seen of our city government, the only signage this town needs is “This Way to the New Issaquah Marijuana Dispensary (where you can still get a free plastic bag with every purchase)”.

  7. Mrs. Kravitz on May 23rd, 2012 8:16 pm

    So the Press is advocating the state of Washington fund the beautification projects for all the portals to every city’s and town across the state (or should the state treat Issaquah as more special than all the other places in the state). I would imagine WSDOT would put together an agreement with the city to allow the city of Issaquah to pay for and maintain the beautification. Guess what…the city wont do it…they want the state to pay for it. I’m fine with the concrete medians…it’s within the budget.

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