Central Issaquah Plan proposes shift from suburban to urban in business district

December 11, 2012

Issaquah, circa 2040, could sport a skyline.

The central business district is on the cusp of change, as city leaders plan for redevelopment on about 1,000 acres stretched along Interstate 90.

Nowadays, suburban sprawl dominates the landscape — traffic-clogged streets unfurl next to strip malls. Residents live elsewhere and climb into cars to reach the area’s amenities. Underfoot, 75 percent of land in the area is encased under parking lots.

Imagine, instead, buildings up to 125 feet tall, storefronts and residences arranged along tree-lined sidewalks, and perhaps decades in the future, a station on the regional rail network.

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Issaquah Police Department to add patrol officer

December 11, 2012

Expect to see more police patrolling city streets next summer, after the City Council agreed to include dollars in the 2013 municipal budget for the Issaquah Police Department to hire another officer.

The council agreed in the $42 million general fund budget to hire another police officer and a part-time records staffer for the police department. The agency expects to fill both positions after July 1.

The general fund encompasses the dollars used to fund police and fire services, community development and planning, parks and recreation, and municipal government. The police department is the largest expense in the general fund — encompassing more than $8 million — followed by parks and recreation.

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City Council restores dollars for nonprofit organizations

December 11, 2012

By the numbers

Data from the most recent year available, 2011, illustrates how Issaquah ranks against other King County cities in per capita funding for human services.

Issaquah

  • Human services budget: $222,000
  • Funding formula: 1 percent of general fund
  • Per capita human services funding: $8.22

Bellevue

  • Human services budget: $2,792,312
  • Funding formula: inflation plus population growth
  • Per capita human services funding: $23.01

Bothell

  • Human services budget: $234,500
  • Funding formula: per capita
  • Per capita human services funding: $7

Kenmore

  • Human services budget: $289,000
  • Funding formula: 3 percent of estimated revenues
  • Per capita human services funding: $13.85

Kirkland

  • Human services budget: $571,880
  • Funding formula: per capita
  • Per capita human services funding: $11.52

Redmond

  • Human services budget: $664,235
  • Funding formula: per capita plus $74,500 per year in domestic violence funds
  • Per capita human services funding: $11.35

Sammamish

  • Human services budget: $176,000
  • Funding formula: no formula
  • Per capita human services funding: $4.29

Shoreline

  • Human services budget: $340,307
  • Funding formula: no formula
  • Per capita human services funding: $6.23

Woodinville

  • Human services budget: $66,501
  • Funding formula: no formula
  • Per capita human services funding: $5.86

Source: City of Issaquah

Representatives from a spectrum of organizations — nonprofit human services groups offering affordable housing, safe havens for domestic violence victims, assistance to struggling students and more — successfully lobbied City Council members Dec. 3 to stave off a $48,750 drop in funding for such programs.

The council agreed to allocate $280,750 in the $42 million general fund budget for human services grants, but only after a council committee pushed to increase the amount and local nonprofit organizations pleaded for the council not to eliminate $48,750 in funding.

Grants go to organizations such as Eastside Baby Corner, Friends of Youth and the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank to offer services to residents from Issaquah and the Issaquah School District.

In a 4-3 decision, council members agreed to increase the amount budgeted for human services by $48,750 from the $233,250 the council recommended in earlier budget deliberations. The additional dollars for human services grants comes from the municipal rainy day fund.

Councilwoman Eileen Barber initiated the process to restore the human services funding.

Then, before the split decision, representatives from local human services organizations — including Catholic Community Services, Issaquah Community Services and LifeWire — beseeched the council to restore funds for grants.

“At a time when I see the needs rising among our students, and I see the return on investment for cities in investing in students while they’re still in school, I think it’s a critical time for you to consider being able to support organizations, such as the schools foundation, in retaining our current funding,” Issaquah Schools Foundation Executive Director Robin Callahan said.

Several referenced the Great Recession and the fragile economy recovery in pleas to the council.

“I believe that our nonprofits are still recovering from the recession,” Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank Executive Director Cori Kauk said. “Many of our local nonprofits haven’t rebounded yet and they still need your support. Now is really not a good time for cuts.”

Council President Tola Marts said the city did not intend to undercut human services organizations through the budget reduction.

“In a time when the state and the county are reducing funds — and I realize that puts even more strain on local budgets — I think the intent of the council when we did the budget was that we thought that was a strong position to take,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that it’s been perceived as a Grinchian position.”

The council acts on recommendations from the municipal Human Services Commission. Overall, commissioners received 60 grant applications totaling $366,283 in requests for 2013.

Commission Chairwoman Maggie Baker, disappointed about the proposed reduction in funding, pored over data from the U.S. Census Bureau to better quantify the need in the community.

“I realized that with $47,000 less, we weren’t going to be able to do the right thing for our 1,365 Issaquah neighbors 65 and over who live with at least one disability that keeps them from completing an activity of daily living, such as eating, dressing or bathing,” she said.

Lakeside Industries development pact could transform quarry site

December 11, 2012

The gravel quarry on a hillside below the Issaquah Highlands, plus land adjacent to the highlands, could someday transform into businesses and homes, if city leaders approve a long-term agreement to redevelop the site.

The landowner and quarry operator, Issaquah-based Lakeside Industries Inc., proposed a 30-year development agreement last year for about 120 acres on both sides of Highlands Drive Northeast. The proposed pact is scheduled to reach the City Council on Dec. 17, as officials consider a plan to remake the area.

The land under consideration is zoned for mineral resources and single-family residences. The development agreement could change the designation on some areas to urban village, the same rules used for the highlands and Talus.

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Planning continues for Rowley Properties land

December 11, 2012

The proposed development agreement between the city and Lakeside Industries is the latest long-term pact involving a major landowner.

In a landmark decision late last year, City Council members approved a 30-year agreement between the city and longtime Issaquah developer Rowley Properties to overhaul almost 80 acres along Interstate 90 and state Route 900.

The council agreed to allow buildings up to 150 feet tall and mixed-use development on up to 4.4 million square feet in Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center.

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Issaquah Trader Joe’s halts liquor sales

December 11, 2012

Trader Joe’s suddenly pulled spirits from store shelves not long after reopening at the Issaquah Commons last month.

The store at the open-air retail center meets the threshold — 10,000 square feet — to sell liquor under state law. Customers said store employees referred to a problem with the lease as the reason liquor disappeared from store shelves.

Trader Joe’s and the property owner offered few details about the change.

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‘The Hobbit’ journeys to Issaquah Library celebration

December 11, 2012

Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins in ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.’ Warner Bros. Entertainment

In 1999, a little-known director from New Zealand undertook one of the greatest risks in cinematic history, committing $285 million to consecutively film J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Peter Jackson’s gamble paid off big — a $2.9 billion worldwide box office haul with 30 Academy Award nominations and 17 wins.

Now, 13 years later, Jackson is hoping to capture lightning in a bottle again with the release on Dec. 14 of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first installment of a planned trilogy from Tolkien’s “The Hobbit or There and Back Again.”

To celebrate the release, the Issaquah Library is hosting a Second Breakfast Party.

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Eastridge Church hosts performances of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

December 11, 2012

In 1947, The Lux Radio Theatre delivered “It’s a Wonderful Life” from the silver screen to living rooms across the country via the radio. Now, 65 years later, Eastridge Church is recreating the radio play for the Eastside community.

With performances Dec. 14 and 15 at the church’s 72,000-square-foot Issaquah facility, the performance is not short on theatrics.

“It’s got layers to it,” said director Steve Wright, of Sammamish. “It’s a radio show performing a movie, so we have a few things going on.”

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Merry Christmas Issaquah strengthens community ties

December 11, 2012

Since the economy entered a nosedive in 2008, and throughout the fragile recovery since, volunteers at Issaquah Community Services keep hearing a familiar story.

The breadwinner for a household, laid off during the recession, needs help to make ends meet. The volunteers listen and, in many cases, offer assistance to pay the rent or to keep the electricity on.

Milicent Savage, Issaquah Community Services president, remembers the stories from two men recently at the organization’s office.

The men, both fathers and husbands, needed assistance to cover rent expenses for the month. Savage recalled how one man — a former Microsoft employee now working as a custodian — broke down.

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Duncan Mulholland is King of Clydesdales

December 11, 2012

Alan Manning (left) and Duncan Mulholland drive Manning’s six-horse hitch of Clydesdale draft horses this September during the Puyallup Fair. Contributed

Duncan Mulholland, 82, gets chance to relive his passion for horses

At age 18, Duncan Mulholland drove a six-Clydesdale hitch for the Wilson Meat Packing Co. in Chicago. Over a half-century later, he continues that passion.

“This horse business is what I first did when I came to this country,” Mulholland said in a recent interview at his Issaquah home.

Born in Bishopton, Scotland, in 1930, Mulholland was raised on a farm.

As a young adult, he stayed busy working an apprenticeship by day and attending engineering college in the evenings. An aunt visiting from the United States admired his work ethic; she thought he would be very successful in the States if he were working that hard in Scotland. So, she and her husband invited him to join them there.

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