Issaquah City Council sets ambitious goals for 2012

June 14, 2011

Top priorities include downtown parking, Economic Vitality Commission

NEW — 8 a.m. June 14, 2011

Less than a month after gathering to brainstorm ideas for the coming year, City Council members set ambitious goals for 2012, including possible solutions for cash-strapped Lake Sammamish State Park, a more citizen-friendly budgeting process and a commission to address economic vitality.

The council OK’d the list June 6, and sent Mayor Ava Frisinger priorities for the months ahead. The decision represents the initial step in the process to shape the 2012 municipal budget. The unanimous decision came after council members met for a rare Saturday meeting May 14 to outline goals.

“In my view, these are a balanced set of goals that cover just about every aspect of city government,” Councilman Fred Butler said during the June 6 meeting. “There’s something in there for everyone.”

The list calls for the city to join with the DownTown Issaquah Association and the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce to determine options for a structured parking study. Issues related to downtown parking — a headache during ArtWalk, Fenders on Front Street and other summertime events — emerged as the top priority at the retreat.

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DownTown Issaquah Association charts new course

April 26, 2011

The decision to oust the longtime DownTown Issaquah Association executive director has not impeded the organization in the run-up to ArtWalk, a spring and summer staple for downtown merchants.

Organizers credited former Executive Director Greg Spranger and former Cultural Events Manager Michael Johnson with building solid support for the event.

The upcoming ArtWalk has focused renewed attention on a February staff shakeup at the downtown business organization. ArtWalk returns for a 10th season May 6 and runs one Friday each month until September.

DownTown Issaquah Association leaders decided to scrap the executive director position and hired another candidate as community relations manager rather than longtime executive director Spranger. Johnson then resigned in protest.

The decision prompted angry letters to the editor and hard feelings among some downtown merchants and supporters.

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Press Editorial

April 26, 2011

Future is undetermined for downtown boosters

The DownTown Issaquah Association has come under much criticism for reviewing and rewriting the job description of its leading staff member, and then hiring a new employee.

It may be that DIA needs to go one step further.

Currently, DIA has a community relations director and an events coordinator. It’s questionable whether both are really needed.

An events coordinator to manage ArtWalk five Friday nights a year, a car show in June, a spring cleaning of downtown, and a few other promotional activities that bring shoppers to Front Street and nearby businesses may be all DIA needs to focus on in this trimmer economy.

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DownTown Issaquah Association replaces longtime director

March 1, 2011

Downtown Issaquah booster Greg Spranger — nicknamed “Captain Downtown” — is out at the DownTown Issaquah Association after leading the organization for more than a decade.

DownTown Issaquah Association President David Irons said the organization is pursuing a different approach to boosting businesses and programs in the historic downtown. So, the board scrapped the executive director position Spranger held, and created a community relations manager post as a replacement.

Greg Spranger

The board hired Issaquah resident Tanya Alter for the post. Irons announced the appointment Feb. 28, the same day Alter started in the part-time position.

“When looking at her résumé, she had the attributes we were looking for in a candidate,” Irons said.

The organization put out a call for applicants in January; 42 people applied for the position, including Spranger.

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Downturn limits city dollars for tourism promotion

November 16, 2010

City leaders plan to use limited tourism dollars to help Village Theatre reach a broader audience, promote the Salmon Days Festival throughout the state and defray costs for the Fenders on Front Street car show.

The city Lodging Tax Advisory Committee has recommended $95,000 for a half-dozen projects. The bulk — $68,000 — has been earmarked for the Visitor Information Center operated by the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce. Read more

Front Street closes to traffic Sunday

June 19, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. June 19, 2010

Front Street will close to traffic from 6 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Father’s Day, Sunday, as the DownTown Issaquah Association hosts the annual Fenders on Front Street Car Show and Cruise, a part of Mountains to Sound Greenway’s annual Greenway Days celebration.

Northwest Alder Place adjacent to Vino Bella will close from 6 a.m. – 8 p.m. to host a band and beer garden as part of the festivities.

A bike ride for the LIVESTRONG Challenge will travel near and through Issaquah from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., but no roads will be closed for the ride.

Drivers should watch for riders along Southeast May Valley Road, Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast, Southeast Tiger Mountain Road, Second Avenue Southeast, East Sunset Way, Highlands Drive Northeast, Southeast Black Nugget Road, East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast, Newport Way Northwest and Northwest Village Park Drive.

Cyclists will be required to adhere to the rules of the road, but drivers should expect possible delays.

Greenway Days kicks off summer-long festival

June 15, 2010

Every year, more than 4,000 volunteers help the Mountains to Sound Greenway conserve and educate the public about a 100-mile stretch of Interstate 90.

Greenway Days returns Father’s Day weekend for its seventh year to celebrate their efforts and draw visitors to more than 25 events in 10 communities along the route.

Greenway Days offers many group hikes, bike rides and community celebrations in addition to its signature events: Greenway Geoteaming, a high-tech geocaching competition; and Let’s Go Fishing, a chance for 6- to 15-year-olds to learn the technique of fishing at Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island.

Issaquah’s Fenders on Front Street car show, from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. June 20, has also become a signature event for Greenway Days. Front Street is literally shut down as hundreds of cars line both sidewalks and bands provide entertainment along the route.

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New, relocated businesses boost Issaquah economy

May 4, 2010

The local economy has improved since last year, but increased retail offerings and high-profile construction projects could help the city rebound in the months ahead.

Economic Development Manager Dan Trimble said the city had progressed beyond the economic doldrums of last year. Joe’s — the longtime sporting goods retailer — closed as the city grappled with dual real estate and building construction slowdowns brought on by the recession.

“In 2010, we started to see the economic recovery start to take hold,” Trimble told City Council members April 27. “We’ve had some new retail moving in, both big and small. Construction activity has been returning.”

Swedish Medical Center started construction on a campus in the Issaquah Highlands late last year, and Best Buy and Sports Authority will open Issaquah stores in the months ahead. Sports Authority will occupy the old Joe’s space, and Best Buy will fill vacant space in the bustling East Lake Center shopping complex anchored by Fred Meyer and The Home Depot.

Sports Authority should generate $85,000 to $100,000 annually in sales tax revenue for the city; Best Buy should pull in $100,000 to $200,000, city Finance Director Jim Blake said in a May 1 conference call with council members.

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XXX unveils biggest car show schedule yet

February 9, 2010

If you have a car club and missed out getting on the 2010 calendar of shows at the XXX Rootbeer Drive-In, you’ll have to be quicker next year. This year’s list is filled. Read more

Fenders on Front Street Car Show highlights Greenway Days Festival

June 9, 2009

For two days in June, more than Interstate 90 will connect Seattle and Eastside residents.

The open trunk of a classic 1950 Ford features original roadside emergency accessories on Front Street with other cars during the Fenders on Front Street Car Show and Cruise.By Greg Farrar

The open trunk of a classic 1950 Ford features original roadside emergency accessories on Front Street with other cars during the Fenders on Front Street Car Show and Cruise.By Greg Farrar

The 1.4 million acres of natural land that make up the Mountains to Sound Greenway and stretch along I-90 will be part of the sixth annual Greenway Days.

Hosted by the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, the festival will have more than 25 events June 20-21 in 10 communities over 100 miles along I-90. Participants will get a chance to learn more about the culture and history of the area, as well as the outdoor recreation available. The various activities include hikes, relays, bike rides, a car show and guided tours of local historical hot spots. Read more

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