Group urges residents to open ‘Eyes on Issaquah’

March 13, 2012

The black-and-red signs started to appear on Issaquah street corners and road medians just as city leaders prepared to delve into a long-term blueprint for growth.

Ava Frisinger

In bold letters, the signs asks passers-by, “Re-development at what cost?” and directs onlookers to a website for more information.

The campaign, called Eyes on Issaquah, is the latest effort to encourage citizen oversight as the Central Issaquah Plan advances from proposal to policy.

The organization behind the eyes is the Issaquah Environmental Council, a watchdog group, and the face behind the organization is leader Connie Marsh, a longtime citizen activist and former City Council candidate.

“It seemed important enough to try to get as many eyes as possible on it, so it would be the people’s plan, too, and not just something laid upon them by their government,” she said.

The campaign urges residents to learn more about the Central Issaquah Plan — a proposal to remake more than 900 acres in the business district along Interstate 90 in the decades ahead.

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Press Editorial

January 3, 2012

2012 Issaquah goals are very achievable

Each year our news staff and editorial board put their heads together to create a list of goals for the Issaquah area. Some are repeats from former years, but are still on our wish list.

Environmentally speaking — Local restaurants need to step up and get compliant with the city’s mandate on use of recyclable containers. Most already have, but not all. The city should go a step further and follow Seattle’s lead in banning plastic grocery and retail bags.

Central Issaquah Plan — The plan that will act as a guideline for redevelopment of Issaquah’s business district should be completed this year. Take it one step further and implement it for new development in the highlands, too.

Park Pointe — Now that the land deal is done, the city and volunteers can transform the 100 acres on Tiger Mountain for everyone to enjoy; Issaquah Environmental Council volunteers started the process last week by planting native species.

Economic development — With the re-engineering of how City Hall functions to encourage a more robust economic development of the business community, the time has come for action. Put measurable goals in place immediately with an eye toward filling vacant storefronts.

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In landmark decision, buildings up to 150 feet in business district OK’d

December 27, 2011

Rowley Properties could someday build tall buildings on 78 acres in the business district, as shown in the rendering above. Contributed

Rowley Properties plans to redevelop land in decades ahead

Tall buildings could someday punctuate the skyline in the modest business district along state Route 900, after city leaders created a framework Dec. 19 to transform acre upon acre blanketed in storage units, low-slung office buildings and automotive service centers into a dense neighborhood for shops and homes.

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

The landowner, in turn, is required to pay for transportation upgrades, affordable housing construction, Tibbetts Creek restoration efforts and storm-water system improvements.

Leaders said the potential for change in Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center offers a rare opportunity to reshape Issaquah as the city readjusts after a decadelong population boom.

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Join Issaquah Alps Trails Club to help clean, prepare Cougar Mountain

November 15, 2011

Cougar Mountain is due for a cleaning.

King County purchased 41 acres on Cougar Mountain almost a year ago, and to prepare the site for addition to a regional park, Issaquah Alps Trails Club members plan to clean up the land Nov. 19.

The effort is a rare cleanup event for the trails club. Members usually focus on trail maintenance projects.

“This property is really important and we figure it’s a good start,” said David Kappler, Issaquah Alps Trails Club president and a former Issaquah councilman. “We’ll build some more awareness of the actual potential for this property.”

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Issaquah funeral home proposal raises traffic congestion concerns

June 21, 2011

Concerns about traffic congestion prompted downtown Issaquah residents and business owners to mobilize last week in a neighborhood effort to thwart a funeral home operator from opening a facility in a church along East Sunset Way.

The municipal Planning Department is considering a proposal from Service Corporation International, a Houston-based funeral products and services provider, to renovate Abide Baptist Church, 425 E. Sunset Way, into a funeral home. (The company also operates Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Bellevue and Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton, plus funeral homes in the same cities.)

The applicant’s parking proposal attracted the most ire from project opponents. Plans call for aisle parking, similar to the lineup near a ferry dock, to accommodate about 20 vehicles for services and visitations at the funeral home. The proposal also calls for using a parking attendant to direct vehicles before and after events.

“I can’t say that that’s going to work,” city Senior Planner Marion O’Brien said. “There are some problems with what they’re showing there as well as with dimensions. We will need to have clarification on some of these proposals. That’s a given.”

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Issaquah funeral home proposal raises traffic congestion concerns

June 20, 2011

NEW — 4:15 p.m. June 20, 2011

Concerns about traffic congestion prompted downtown Issaquah residents and business owners to mobilize last week in a neighborhood effort to thwart a funeral home operator from opening a facility in a church along East Sunset Way.

The municipal Planning Department is considering a proposal from Service Corporation International, a Houston-based funeral products and services provider, to renovate Abide Baptist Church, 425 E. Sunset Way, into a funeral home. (The company also operates Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Bellevue and Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton, plus funeral homes in the same cities.)

The applicant’s parking proposal attracted the most ire from project opponents. Plans call for aisle parking, similar to the lineup near a ferry dock, to accommodate about 20 vehicles for services and visitations at the funeral home. The proposal also calls for using a parking attendant to direct vehicles before and after events.

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City Council sells highlands land to Bellevue homebuilder

May 24, 2011

City Council members agreed May 16 to sell Issaquah Highlands land — a scrap measuring 16,000 square feet — to a homebuilder and set aside dollars from the sale to improve municipal parks.

The city stands to receive $191,496 for the parcel near the planned 15th Avenue Northeast extension and Northeast College Drive construction.

Bellevue-based developer Polygon Northwest is building the Forest Ridge at Issaquah Highlands neighborhood near the site and intends to add the parcel to the community.

The homebuilder could create three lots for single-family detached homes on the site.

“As a new member to the Issaquah Highlands community, we want to do what’s in the best interest of the community, and we feel that this fits that goal,” Ben Rutkowski, development project manager for Polygon Northwest, told council members.

The council agreed in a unanimous decision to sell the land, but members raised questions about how to use dollars from the sale, as well as road access to possible homes on the site.

Keith Niven, city Major Development Review Team program manager, said the city created the site after carving up a larger parcel.

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Strike a blow against invasive Scotch broom Wednesday

May 24, 2011

Volunteers gather on the Tradition Plateau on May 21 for the annual Scotch Broom Massacre to tackle the invasive plant. Contributed

NEW — 11 a.m. May 24, 2011

The annual Scotch Broom Massacre accomplished a lot May 21, but the Issaquah Environmental Council needs more help to cut the invasive plant.

The organization is holding another plant-yanking party at 3 p.m. Wednesday. Participants should meet, rain or shine, off of Interstate 90 Exit 20.

If people cannot join a work party, then grab some clippers or loppers, and set off to cut Scotch broom.

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Knock invasive plants dead at Scotch Broom Massacre

May 19, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. May 19, 2011

Issaquah turns into the site of a massacre Sunday.

Issaquah Environmental Council members and volunteers gather at the High Point Trailhead to massacre invasive Scotch broom.

The annual Scotch Broom Massacre runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants should meet off of Interstate 90 Exit 20.

Organizers encourage volunteers to bring loppers or pruners. Organizers provide snacks, gloves and some tools.

RSVP on the Issaquah Environmental Council website and call Barbara Shelton at 466-8470 to learn more.

City Council sells Issaquah Highlands land to homebuilder

May 18, 2011

NEW — 3 p.m. May 18, 2011

City Council members agreed Monday to sell Issaquah Highlands land — a scrap measuring 16,000 square feet — to a homebuilder and set aside dollars from the sale to improve municipal parks.

The city stands to receive $191,496 for the parcel near the planned 15th Avenue Northeast extension and Northeast College Drive construction. The land measures 16,000 square feet, or about the size of a typical Bartell Drugs.

Bellevue-based developer Polygon Northwest is building the Forest Ridge at Issaquah Highlands neighborhood near the site and intends to add the parcel to the community.

The homebuilder could create three lots for single-family detached homes on the site.

“As a new member to the Issaquah Highlands community, we want to do what’s in the best interest of the community, and we feel that this fits that goal,” Ben Rutkowski, development project manager for Polygon Northwest, told council members.

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