City Council outlines Issaquah goals for 2013

June 5, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

City Council members agreed to study options for the aging Issaquah Skate Park to turn it from a bastion for drug use into a community asset, boost economic development efforts in the city and conduct another study about the future of Klahanie.

Other priorities included a plan to televise council budget deliberations, hire a lobbyist to advocate for Issaquah in Olympia, and develop a comprehensive policy related to bicyclists and pedestrians.

The council, alongside representatives from municipal departments, gathered in a YWCA Family Village at Issaquah conference room June 2 to formulate the list.

In the rare Saturday meeting, council members trimmed a long list into priorities for 2013. Though the council conducted the heavy lifting at the retreat, the process is not yet done.

The council is expected to adopt the goals June 18. In the meantime, city staffers started transforming the list of goals into legislation.

Council members then send Mayor Ava Frisinger the list of priorities for the months ahead. The decision represents the initial step in the process to shape the 2013 municipal budget.

The goal-setting retreat, alongside the budget proposal each fall and the State of the City address each winter, helps shape the municipal budget for the year ahead.

Some proposals, such as the emphasis on economic development and the Olympia lobbyist, returned from earlier goal-setting discussions. So, too, did the commitment to outline a role for the city in the future of cash-strapped Lake Sammamish State Park. The focus on economic development is a perennial goal for city leaders.

The skate park emerged as a focus early on during the goal-setting discussion.

The park, shielded from prying eyes by trees and terrain, is a gathering place for loitering teenagers and a frequent destination for police. The location near Clark Elementary, Issaquah Middle, Issaquah High and Tiger Mountain Community High schools adds to the problem.

Councilwoman Stacy Goodman suggested a plan to demolish the existing skate park and rebuild a similar facility elsewhere. Councilwoman Eileen Barber suggested closing the park.

But Councilman Fred Butler said a closure is not the preferred course, and said the city should not allow “a bunch of hoodlums” to dictate policy related to the skate park.

Instead, the council outlined a goal to relocate or enhance the skate park to attract more users and root out crime.

Officials said the Issaquah School District plan to rebuild campuses in the area could afford the city a chance to relocate the skate park. The district plans to demolish and rebuild Clark Elementary, Issaquah Middle and Tiger Mountain Community High schools in the years ahead.

The council also agreed to delve into the future of Klahanie and surrounding neighborhoods in unincorporated King County.

Only Issaquah can annex the area under existing growth plans, but Sammamish could take the community instead, if planners in both cities redraw long-term growth blueprints.

In 2005, voters in the potential annexation area defeated a proposal to join Issaquah, even though 67 percent of voters approved annexation. Later, however, council members balked because only 47 percent of voters agreed to shoulder a portion of Issaquah’s debt.

The council said information related to a potential annexation must be updated before a decision can be made about the next step.

“Without the data, we’re flying in the dark,” Butler said.

The cost to provide municipal services to the Klahanie area could determine whether Issaquah or Sammamish is interested in annexation.

“I think if the answer is no, then our friends to the north want to know that,” Council President Tola Marts said.

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

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