City, state join forces to improve Lake Sammamish State Park

July 3, 2012

Issaquah and the state parks agency have agreed to coordinate efforts to create a better future for cash-strapped Lake Sammamish State Park.

Hugo Valdivieso, a worker for Lake Sammamish State Park, mows the shoulder of Northwest Sammamish Road in front of the park main entrance May 12. By Greg Farrar

The city could someday shoulder some responsibilities to maintain the state park, but the initial agreement between Issaquah and the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission is light on specifics.

The pact approved by the City Council in a unanimous decision June 18 calls for the city and state parks agency to “explore opportunities to improve community use” of park facilities, seek out funding to improve the park and dedicate staffers to develop recommendations for the park.

The agreement, or memorandum of understanding, is in effect through June 2013. The council decision did not allocate any funding to the park project.

“I’m delighted to see this partnership that we’ve had with Lake Sammamish State Park over the years continue in a more formal way,” Councilman Fred Butler said before the decision.

The effort, spearheaded by councilwomen Eileen Barber and Stacy Goodman, stemmed from a 2011 council retreat to set goals for 2012.

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City Council renews animal control contract

July 3, 2012

King County remains the provider of animal control services in Issaquah under a contract approved by the City Council.

The current provider, Regional Animal Services of King County, changed the formula for how cities pay for the agency. Under the old agreement, cities paid equal amounts based on population and the number of calls, but the updated agreement ditches the 50-50 agreement for a method based more on number of calls in a particular city.

The contract amounts to about $60,000 per year for Issaquah. The agreement is in place through December 2015.

“We think they made it a little more fair,” city Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill said.

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City Council bans plastic bags at Issaquah retailers

June 12, 2012

Ordinance goes into effect for most businesses in March 2013

Issaquah joined a string of cities along Puget Sound to outlaw plastic bags at local retailers June 4, after months of sometimes-acrimonious debate about adverse impacts to the marine environment and the regional economy.

In the end, concerns about the environment led the City Council to decide 5-2 to eliminate most retail uses for plastic bags. The legislation — and a 5-cent fee on paper bags — go into effect in March 2013 for most businesses.

The council listened to advocates from environmental groups and the plastics industry in public meetings throughout April and May, and then again before the decision.

The plastic bag ban sponsor, Issaquah Highlands entrepreneur and City Councilman Mark Mullet, presented the legislation as a way to reduce the estimated 10 million plastic bags the city sends to the King County landfill each year.

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City Council outlines Issaquah goals for 2013

June 5, 2012

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.

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City Council outlaws plastic bags in Issaquah

June 4, 2012

NEW — 11:20 p.m. June 4, 2012

Issaquah joined a string of cities along Puget Sound to outlaw plastic bags at local retailers Monday, after months of sometimes-acrimonious debate about adverse impacts to the marine environment and the regional economy.

In the end, concerns about the environment led the City Council to decide 5-2 to eliminate most retail uses for plastic bags. The legislation is scheduled to go into effect in March 2013 for most businesses.

The council listened to advocates from environmental groups and the plastics industry in public meetings throughout April and May, and then again before the decision.

The plastic bag ban sponsor, Issaquah Highlands entrepreneur and Councilman Mark Mullet, presented the legislation as a way to reduce the estimated 10 million plastic bags the city sends to the King County landfill each year.

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Catching a legacy as Issaquah Salmon Hatchery turns 75

April 24, 2012

Vicki Hahn (above, left), FISH master docent, uses hatchery sculptures Gillda and Finley to explain how salmon spawn for Lika Clark, 9, her brother Peter Ginter, 13, and their mother Jessica Ginter. By Greg Farrar

The humble buildings along a downtown street and the simple bridge across Issaquah Creek do not call out for attention, but the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is iconic nonetheless — so iconic, the hatchery and the salmon raised in manmade ponds serve as symbols for Issaquah and the region.

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State funds replacement for problem-plagued hatchery dam

April 24, 2012

Local residents (right) on a hike April 22 with FISH docent Grace Reamer visit the 1930s-era Issaquah Creek dam. By Greg Farrar

The “damn dam” — a concrete gauntlet for migrating fish upstream from the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery — is due for replacement next year, after state legislators scraped together funding for the $4 million project.

Plans call for crews to demolish the aging dam and add boulder weirs in Issaquah Creek.

The project, a long-held priority for local and state leaders and environmentalists, could start as soon as next spring. The $4 million appropriation in a lean budget surprised hatchery supporters.

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Construction to start on downtown Issaquah parks

April 17, 2012

Timeline remains uncertain due to lack of funding

The downtown parks along Issaquah Creek — 15.5 acres referred to as the crown jewel in the municipal parks system — can soon start a long transformation into undulating paths, picnic areas and more.

In a March 19 decision, City Council members approved the overarching design outline, or master site plan, for the interconnected Tollë Anderson, Cybil-Madeline and Issaquah Creek parks. The action laid the groundwork for construction to start on the site by late summer, though the effort to complete the parks could stretch for years.

City parks planners still need to acquire municipal permits for the initial construction phase. Meanwhile, architects at The Berger Partnership, a Seattle firm, continue to fine-tune the design for the parks.

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City Council delays decision on plastic bag ban

April 10, 2012

The decision to outlaw plastic bags at Issaquah businesses is on hold, City Council members decided April 2 after listening to appeals from environmentalists concerned about Puget Sound pollution and plastics manufacturers anxious about lost livelihoods.

The proposed plastic bag ban at local retailers is meant to limit garbage headed for the King County landfill and reduce marine pollution.

The measure stalled after speakers questioned the scope, timing and lack of input from the businesses affected by such a change. The council opted in a 6-1 decision to postpone further discussions on the plastic bag ban to a still-unscheduled meeting in May.

“It bothers me that in this last week that we were still turning over stones,” Councilwoman Stacy Goodman said before the meeting.

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City Council delays decision on Issaquah plastic bag ban

April 2, 2012

NEW — 9:03 p.m. April 2, 2012

The decision to outlaw plastic bags at Issaquah businesses is on hold, City Council members decided Monday after a contentious discussion and appeals from environmentalists concerned about Puget Sound pollution and plastics manufacturers anxious about lost livelihoods.

The proposed plastic bag ban at local retailers is meant to limit garbage headed for the King County landfill and reduce marine pollution.

The measure stalled after speakers questioned the proposal’s scope and timing. The council opted in a 6-1 decision to postpone further discussions on the plastic bag ban to a still-unscheduled meeting.

The plastic bag ban proponent, Issaquah Highlands entrepreneur and Councilman Mark Mullet, said the legislation offers Issaquah a chance to reduce the estimated 10 million plastic bags the city sends to the King County landfill each year.

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