December 31, 2013
2014 goals for a better Issaquah
The Issaquah Press presents its annual list of goals for the Issaquah area. A few are repeats from last year, still waiting to be accomplished but worthy of repeating.
February elections — The trio of school district levies, the Klahanie annexation decision and the repeal of the plastic bag ban are all up for a vote. The only good thing about the dismal turnout of voters in the November election is the easy assurance of getting enough voters to validate the school levy election. Let’s hope Issaquah voters get back on track and return their ballots in higher numbers in 2014.
Central Issaquah Plan — The redevelopment plan is in place and developers now know how to maximize the use of their property. One project has already been proposed. It will be interesting to see what other plans come forward and whether the CIP is achieving its goals.
State park priorities — Washington State Parks put out a call for proposals to enhance Lake Sammamish State Park and received three responses. They need to try again, seeking proposals for specific projects in the 2007 master plan that are waiting to be implemented. One should be for the RV, tent and yurt site, a sure boost in economic growth for both the park and city.
Museum — How long must Issaquah History Museums wait for an appropriate facility to house their archives? Each year that goes by adds to the growing collection. It will take city leadership and partnership to get this done. Why not make it a ballot proposition?
Comprehensive vision for the city — Reconnect city leaders with the community at large. Whether it’s a discussion of how high buildings should go or where to locate a skate park, the council needs to know what its citizens think. A series of town meetings would be welcome.
School partnerships — Issaquah schools used a windfall of state cash to bring in counselors from Swedish. Contracting for services instead of hiring staff in an uncertain budget world of education makes a lot of sense. We hope the school district pursues other opportunities to contract for services without adding to the payroll.
Transportation — Keep the toll off the Interstate 90 bridge and maintain funding for Metro bus routes to Issaquah, even if it means a higher gas tax.
Marijuana — The city moratorium on recreational marijuana stores will expire in the first quarter of the years. We expect to see definitive rules on where stores can and cannot be located and building codes addressing ventilation concerns.
Drugs and alcohol education — Issaquah-area adults and youths are not immune to drug and alcohol abuse. In fact, it is a major health concern. A new director is in place along with grant funding for Issaquah’s Drug Free Community Coalition. Look for heightened drug awareness and education programs in our schools and beyond.
Teen mental health — Unconfirmed estimates say that nine Issaquah School District teens committed suicide last year. That’s absolutely unacceptable in a community that is steadfastly proud and supportive of its teens. We hope the Issaquah Family Health Network will help the community face up to the realities of suicide. It’s not a dirty little secret — suicide is the ultimate indicator of mental health issues facing teens and adults. Let’s get it out in the open and talk support and solutions.
Plastic bag ban — We hope citizens here reject the ballot issue to repeal the plastic bag ban. Issaquah residents should be proud of their newfound habits of doing without the bags. Let’s not regress.
Human services campus — A site has been identified for a new facility that will be home to numerous human services. We look forward to seeing partners sign up to lease space so construction plans can be moved forward.
State budget — The city lobbyist will return to work for the city when the Legislature convenes this month, seeking improvements reflected in the I-90 Corridor Plan, including an overcrossing to 11th or 12th Avenue, pedestrian/bicycle improvements along state Route 900 and a potential overhaul of the Front Street interchange. New revenue from state sales taxes, including liquor and marijuana, are also on the wish list. Our local state representatives will need to work in tandem with those lofty goals.
Future leaders — Issaquah is overdue to have its own leadership program. Start with a series of Citizen 101 classes for citizens to learn about their government, water issues, police department, school funding and volunteer opportunities. Informed citizens are tomorrow’s leaders — and Issaquah can never have too many leaders. Bring back elections with real choices, starting in November.
Route 200 bus — The City Council should expand Metro Route 200, our intercity free bus. Add weekend loops to the highlands, Talus and up Squak Mountain, and add a 25-cent-per-rider fee to help offset the cost. We’ve seen little come from the Economic Vitality Commission. This is a recommendation it should push.