City Council turns to veteran for vacancy

February 5, 2013

Joe Forkner (left) is welcomed back to the dais for another City Council stint by Eileen Barber on Jan. 29. By Greg Farrar

Joe Forkner (left) is welcomed back to the dais for another City Council stint by Eileen Barber on Jan. 29. By Greg Farrar

Joe Forkner returned to the City Council on Jan. 29 after a divided council appointed the former councilman, onetime city employee and longtime community leader to a vacant seat.

Forkner, a councilman in separate stints during the early and mid-2000s, did not fade from public life after departing from the council in 2007. The engineering technician and draftsman served as a member of numerous municipal boards and commissions in recent years, and spearheaded the initial plan to redevelop the business district along Interstate 90.

The depth of experience led the council to appoint Forkner, 59, to occupy the seat left after former Councilman Mark Mullet resigned to serve in the state Senate.

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Joshua Schaer is first City Council member from Talus

January 8, 2013

Councilman Joshua Schaer moved to Talus late last month and, in the process, became the first City Council member from the Cougar Mountain urban village.

Joshua Schaer

The change offers Schaer a perspective on city issues from the quiet urban village perched above state Route 900.

Construction escalated in the late 1990s and early 2000s in Talus and the Issaquah Highlands, both hillside urban villages, but the neighborhoods existed for more than a decade before a resident achieved citywide elected office.

In 2010, Mark Mullet became the first resident from the highlands to join the council. (Mullet, a state senator elected in November, recently resigned from the post to serve in Olympia.)

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City Council questions Interstate 90 tolling proposal

January 1, 2013

The prospect of tolling on Interstate 90 received a cool reception from the City Council, as state officials consider the idea as a way to generate dollars for the state Route 520 bridge replacement project.

The state Department of Transportation is at work on a $4.1 billion project to replace the 49-year-old floating bridge across Lake Washington and overhaul the 12.8-mile corridor between Interstate 5 in Seattle and state Route 202 in Redmond. The floating bridge is scheduled to open in traffic by early 2015.

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City OKs buildings up to 125 feet tall in business district

December 25, 2012

Redevelopment plan calls for more than 7,000 residences

City leaders raised the building height limit to 125 feet in the business district and raised the stakes for redevelopment in the decades ahead.

The roadmap to redevelopment — a document called the Central Issaquah Plan — also creates a framework to add more than 7,000 residences on about 1,000 acres stretched along Interstate 90.

In a series of decisions reached Dec. 17 after years spent re-envisioning the business district, a relieved City Council adopted the Central Issaquah Plan, but delayed action on a key piece until at least April.

“It’s the right plan at the right time,” Councilman Fred Butler said. “It will not happen overnight, but when the time is right, we will be ready.”

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Central Issaquah Plan proposes shift from suburban to urban in business district

December 11, 2012

Issaquah, circa 2040, could sport a skyline.

The central business district is on the cusp of change, as city leaders plan for redevelopment on about 1,000 acres stretched along Interstate 90.

Nowadays, suburban sprawl dominates the landscape — traffic-clogged streets unfurl next to strip malls. Residents live elsewhere and climb into cars to reach the area’s amenities. Underfoot, 75 percent of land in the area is encased under parking lots.

Imagine, instead, buildings up to 125 feet tall, storefronts and residences arranged along tree-lined sidewalks, and perhaps decades in the future, a station on the regional rail network.

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City Council sinks property tax increase, prepares budget

November 13, 2012

City Council members decided Nov. 5 against a property tax increase for next year, and edged the 2013 municipal budget closer to adoption.

In a unanimous decision, council members rejected a proposal to increase the property tax rate by 1 percent next year. The council is expected to finalize the decision on property tax revenue for next year at a Nov. 19 meeting.

In October, Mayor Ava Frisinger proposed to raise the property tax rate by the maximum amount allowed under state law, or 1 percent, next year. Officials said the measure could raise $69,707 for the city next year and then compound over time. The city estimated the cost to the average homeowner at $4.75 per year.

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City Council approves controversial Cougar Mountain subdivision

September 11, 2012

City leaders OK’d a Cougar Mountain subdivision after months of negotiations among the city, neighbors and the developer — and despite objections from neighbors about impacts to street parking and concerns about landslide risk.

Stacy Goodman

In a unanimous decision, City Council members approved the subdivision, called Forest Heights — a proposal to add 24 single-family homes to about six acres on a 13.9-acre site. The agreement also set aside land for storm water detention and to preserve open space.

The proposed project site is northeast of Talus, south of Northwest James Bush Road and uphill from state Route 900, across from Tibbetts Creek Manor.

Officials approved the Forest Heights development agreement Aug. 6, after the Council Land & Shore Committee spent months sifting through details related to the plan.

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City Council hires lobbyist to represent Issaquah in Olympia

August 7, 2012

Issaquah needs a lobbyist to advocate in the marble corridors beneath the Capitol dome — and coax state legislators to support local projects, City Council members said in a contentious decision to hire a longtime Olympia lobbyist.

The council agreed in a 5-2 decision July 16 to hire Doug Levy to represent Issaquah in Olympia. Members spent $21,700 to hire the former congressional staffer and onetime journalist through December.

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Local representatives join Bellevue College Foundation board

July 31, 2012

Issaquah Councilman Joshua Schaer joined the Bellevue College Foundation board, as the organization elected a president and greeted other local members.

Issaquah representatives Dellanie Fragnoli, assistant vice president for international finance and administration at Costco, and Mark Pellegrino, Rainier Group Investment Advisory LLC president, also joined the board.

So did Sammamish representative Cheryl Gunderson, executive vice president and chief lending officer at Fortune Bank.

The foundation also chose Seattle resident Paul Swegle as board president for a one-year term. The terms for the president and other officers started July 1.

Swegle succeeds Bill Kent, a construction executive at M.A. Mortenson Co., as president.

The president-elect for 2012-13 is Sammamish representative Sarah Langton, founder of and partner at Langton Spieth LLC.

The foundation is directed by a 30-member volunteer board. Established in 1978, the nonprofit foundation manages gifts, grants and awards for Bellevue College. The foundation raised more than $2.4 million for the 38,000-student college in 2010-11.

City Council gives green light to transportation projects plan

July 3, 2012

City Council members approved the roadmap for all city transportation projects through 2018 — a guide to planned street and sidewalk improvements.

In a unanimous decision June 18, council members adopted the Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP, a guide to short- and long-term planning for road, transit and pedestrian projects. The document outlines possible transportation projects for 2013-18.

Transportation planners outlined possible improvements to downtown streets, street repairs and other projects in the expansive document.

The list does not include as many big-ticket projects as in past years — a result of council belt-tightening in the municipal budget.

Still, items outlined in the proposal could alleviate traffic congestion and offer motorists a smoother ride — if the city can find dollars to complete the projects.

Municipal staffers list transportation projects in the TIP, and then prioritize the projects through a separate process to fund capital improvements.

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