City Council calls for candidates to fill vacant seat

January 4, 2011

NEW — 4 p.m. Jan. 4, 2011

The city has laid out the process to fill the open City Council seat left after Maureen McCarry resigned late last month.

Candidates can apply for the post until Feb. 4. The council has scheduled candidate interviews for Feb. 22.

Then, after 10-minute interviews, council members could recess into a closed-door executive session to discuss candidates’ qualifications. Under state law, the council can discuss candidates’ qualifications in a closed-door session, but interviews and the decision must occur in public meetings.

The council has set March 7 for the decision to appoint a person to the seat. The person then serves until the next council election.

The upcoming council election is scheduled for November. The victor then serves in the Position 5 spot until Dec. 31, 2013.

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Maureen McCarry resigns from City Council

December 20, 2010

NEW — 10 p.m. Dec. 20, 2010

Maureen McCarry

Maureen McCarry — a soft-spoken but strong advocate for environmental interests — resigned from the City Council on Monday night as she fights amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

McCarry served on the council during a hectic stretch, as members decided long-term decisions related to transportation, economic development and the environment.

The former Harborview Medical Center executive and Squak Mountain resident shaped choices related to annexation and the addition of a Swedish Medical Center campus in the Issaquah Highlands.

The council post also afforded McCarry the opportunity to observe the complicated Park Pointe transfer-of-development-rights process up close as a member of land-use committees.

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Hot rodders steer Christmas cheer to food bank

December 14, 2010

Kim Ortego, assistant to the director at the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank, holds up Saucer Scramble and shows the donated toys that filled an entire truck. Contributed

If the holidays are all about community spirit, then the Sunset Highway Cruisers have earned an A-plus in spreading holiday cheer. For the 10th consecutive year, the cruisers have pulled off a successful toy drive, collecting at least $6,000 worth of toys, cash and checks for the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank.

Sunset Highway Cruisers President Marv Nielsen spearheaded the event, and thanked the approximate 250 drivers who had driven near and far, checks and toys in tow, for the Jingle Bell Cruz car show Dec. 5.

An Issaquah resident since 1977, Nielsen’s aqua 1937 Ford Coupe may be a familiar site to many, especially if they frequent car shows at the Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in. He has coordinated shows at the Triple XXX for 15 years, and might as well have engine oil running through his veins.

“I’ve always grown up interested in cars,” Nielsen said. “I had a model A at age 15, and I had a lifelong fascination of cars and how to improve them.”

Usually, the cruisers donate the proceeds from their shows to Issaquah’s Life Enrichment Options, better known as LEO, which helps Nielsen’s developmentally disabled daughter in her day-to-day life. When the cruisers agreed to host a toy drive, they decided to stay local and donate to the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank.

“Every year it’s gotten bigger and better and better,” Nielsen said. “This year was astronomical. We had 160 cars and hot rods at the Triple XXX.”

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Plan recommends tall buildings in Central Issaquah

November 2, 2010

City task force re-envisions 915-acre business district

Issaquah in the decades ahead could be punctuated by tall buildings — some as high as 150 feet — and arranged around a greenbelt and pedestrian paths.

The suggestion from the Central Issaquah Plan Advisory Task Force is included in a proposal for the 915-acre area straddling Interstate 90 from the far edge of the city to Northeast Gilman Boulevard. The group has offered a bold plan to transform acre upon acre of strip malls and parking lots into dense neighborhoods bordered by parks and linked by mass transit.

The city rolled out the proposal Oct. 27, after the task force logged almost 1,000 hours across 13 months to prepare the plan. If the city decides to implement the plan, any results could be decades distant.

The plan re-envisions Central Issaquah as a blend of businesses and residences ringed by a “green necklace” of parks and trails. The task force studied redevelopment efforts in nearby cities for inspiration, but members said the result is tailored to Issaquah.

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Learn about long-term growth plans

October 12, 2010

Issaquah residents can take a sneak peek at the plan to re-envision more than 900 acres of the city Oct. 14.

Head to the Pickering Room at City Hall Northwest, 1775 12th Ave. N.W., from 6:30-8:30 p.m. to learn more about the Central Issaquah Plan and the proposed redevelopment of Rowley Properties land.

Joe Forkner, chairman of the Central Issaquah Plan task force, is scheduled to speak about the draft plan and offer a timeline for the project.

Representatives from Rowley Properties and the community advisory group for Rowley plan to address the meeting as well.

The event will include a brief workshop to prepare citizens to advocate for quality planning in order to preserve and enhance quality of life, natural beauty and community structure.

E-mail Cascade Land Conservancy representative Katie Collier at katiec@cascadeland.org to R.S.V.P. or learn more.

City Council OKs Comcast price hike

September 28, 2010

The updated agreement between the city and Comcast allows the cable provider to raise prices and removes many of the provisions the city had in place to maintain some of the best cable prices in the state for decades.

Comcast announced plans in early September to raise prices for Issaquah customers Oct. 1. The decision prompted grumbling from the City Council, but, in the end, members said the city had little choice but to sign off on the agreement.

The agreement reached the council Sept. 20, after almost three years of negotiations between Comcast and the city Cable TV Commission, the adviser to the council on telecommunications issues.

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Press Editorial

June 15, 2010

Despite chatter to the contrary, the Central Issaquah Plan that will shape the future of the present business district remains very much unfinished, as a task force of city board members, business owners, environmentalists and residents works to complete a recommendation.

Mayor Ava Frisinger and the City Council hope the final plan guides development on 915 acres south of Interstate 90 in coming decades.

The conversation about a possible downtown park complex and greenbelt through the urban core, an efficient inner-city transit system, urban residences amidst commercial districts and other exciting prospects are still visions. Stay tuned to learn more this fall as the vision comes to the community for input.

When the task force delivers a draft in early fall, the real work begins. Planning Policy Commission members will work to refine the plan, and then send the draft to the City Council.

The long process will also allow plenty of opportunities for the public to weigh in on the final result. In the meantime, residents may attend task force meetings, although that discussion is limited to task force members.

Though tangible results remain years from fruition, the final document should provide a sweeping roadmap to redevelopment in the city’s commercial core.

Central Issaquah could be reshaped from car-centric sprawl defined by strip malls into a walkable community a place where — to borrow a phrase from the Issaquah Highlands developer — residents can live, work and play in close proximity to amenities.

Though the plan could remake Issaquah as we know it, we have faith in the task force and its chairman, former City Councilman Joe Forkner, to preserve Issaquah’s character and small-town charm. Early hints at the final plan hint at emphasis on greenbelts and mass transit — both encouraging signs for a “green” city such as ours.

Though the plan remains a work in progress, the city and Rowley Properties have already taken the steps necessary to turn 90 acres of strip-mall suburbia into part of the final vision. The public-private partnership shows the willingness of the city to use private dollars and ingenuity for the public good. Frisinger and her team, as well as Rowley executives, deserve credit for pursuing the agreement.

Cable prices could rise soon

May 25, 2010

The price for Comcast service could rise for some Issaquah cable customers in the months ahead, though the amount will remain undetermined until the city and the cable provider finalize a pact.

Officials should complete the agreement within several months, and end the long process to update the agreement between the city and the predominate cable provider in Issaquah.

Joe Forkner, a city Cable TV Commission member and a former Issaquah councilman, said Comcast had agreed not to immediately raise prices.

“They have agreed that they are not just going to jack up the rates arbitrarily, but they’ll work them up slowly,” he said.

Members of the City Council Utilities, Technology & Environment Committee discussed the legislation May 11. The committee delayed possible action on the agreement until July.

The full council could approve the agreement at any time, but will likely not act without a recommendation from the committee.

Until the council OKs the latest agreement, Comcast must abide by the terms set in the former pact.

Comcast spokesman Walter Neary said he could not discuss details of the proposed agreement, because the negotiations continue to unfold, but he said he hoped the city and Comcast could a reach a beneficial agreement.

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Council confirms board and commission appointments

May 11, 2010

Former City Council candidates Nathan Perea and Vincent Ippolito will serve the city in a different capacity in the years ahead: as volunteer members of a city commission.

City Council members confirmed 35 appointees to city boards and commissions May 3. The appointees — selected by board officers and Mayor Ava Frisinger — advise officials about everything including development, the environment and the arts.

The mayor reappointed 18 members and chose 20 people for other positions. Some appointees, like former Councilman Joe Forkner, serve on multiple boards.

“Congratulations, and welcome to the many volunteers who will be helping the city with a wide array of issues and important work,” Frisinger said after the council OK’d the appointments.

Rules do not require appointees to live in Issaquah, but officials said most of the members reside in the city. The council praised members for donating time and expertise to the myriad boards and commissions.

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City Council confirms board and commission appointments

May 7, 2010

NEW — 11:30 a.m. May 7, 2010

Former City Council candidates Nathan Perea and Vincent Ippolito will serve the city in a different capacity in the years ahead: as volunteer members of a city commission.

City Council members confirmed 35 appointees to city boards and commissions Monday. The appointees — selected by board officers and Mayor Ava Frisinger — advise officials about everything from development to the environment to the arts.

The mayor reappointed 18 members and chose 20 people for other positions. Some appointees, like former Councilman Joe Forkner, serve on multiple boards.

“Congratulations and welcome to the many volunteers who will be helping the city with a wide array of issues and important work,” Frisinger said after the council OK’d the appointments.

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