Greenway pioneer receives top environmental honor

July 13, 2010

Mountains to Sound Greenway pioneer Ted Thomsen — “the unsung hero” behind the 101-mile greenbelt — received the highest environmental honor in Issaquah in a City Hall ceremony last week.

The late Thomsen received the Ruth Kees Award for a Sustainable Community — the prize named for the late environmentalist, a tireless advocate for open space preservation. The city selected Thomsen for the yearslong effort to establish a billboard-free greenbelt from Seattle to Central Washington along Interstate 90.

Cynthia Welti, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust executive director, nominated Thomsen for the honor.

“He was essential to bringing the greenway vision to fruition,” she recalled in the nomination. “Ted is the unsung hero of the launch of this tremendous coalition effort.”

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Quality of drinking water exceeds standards

June 22, 2010

Issaquah tap water exceeds water-quality standards set by state and federal regulators.

Officials announced the findings in the annual water-quality report issued June 16, and mailed the report to residents in early June.

The city purchased and produced 751.1 million gallons of drinking water last year. Issaquah customers used 693.4 million gallons of water during the same period.

City customers use water drawn from the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer. The city has four wells to the underground water source — a pair in the northeastern part of the city and another pair in the northwestern part. The wells vary from 100 feet to 400 feet deep.

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Help pull invasive plants in the highlands Sunday

May 15, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. May 15, 2010

Issaquah Environmental Council teams will clear invasive Scotch broom in the Issaquah Highlands on Sunday, and the group needs volunteers.

Teams will gather near Central Park from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. to clear the non-native plant near the reservoir near Northeast Park Drive.

The group will need volunteers to tackle other invasive plants, such as Himalayan blackberry and ivy, in the weeks ahead. E-mail Connie Marsh, Issaquah Environmental Council president, at auntgrumpy@comcast.net for more information.

Besides invasive plant removal, the Issaquah Environmental Council works to protect the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer — a source of city drinking water — the Issaquah Creek watershed and other ecological assets. Learn more about the group here.

New signs educate residents about drinking water

April 6, 2010

City workers posted signs throughout the city in mid-March to remind residents about the importance of ground water.

Workers installed five ground water protection signs in the Critical Aquifer Recharge Area — places where rainwater filters into the underground municipal water supply. Ground water pumped from the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer serves as a major source of city drinking water.

Officials said the signs will be used alongside other tools, like the city Web site, to educate residents about the source of city water, as well as manmade impacts on the ground water supply.

Learn more about drinking water, the Critical Aquifer Recharge Area and the signs here.

Developer: Park Pointe could break ground in 2011

December 22, 2009

The developer behind Park Pointe said ground could be broken for the embattled Tiger Mountain residential project as early as a year after it emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy hearings. But city officials, accustomed to long delays related to Park Pointe, described the timeline as ambitious. Read more

Vision for highlands will be focus as City Council debates gas station

December 15, 2009

A proposal to allow a gas station in the Issaquah Highlands has become the latest flashpoint in the ongoing debate about how development in the hillside community measures up to the vision offered by the developer and the city.

The dispute centers on a revision to the development agreement between the city and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities to allow a gas station to be constructed in the community. Supporters said highlands residents want a gas station for convenience and safety, when severe weather occurs and residents need fuel. Detractors argued that a gas station would be a poor fit for a community billed as “green” and pedestrian-friendly.

The amendment would overhaul the development pact between the city and Port Blakely to allow gas stations in the decade-old community. The revision includes tight language to limit what developers and operators could do with the property.

Besides gasoline, the operator would be required to offer at least one alternative fuel and three electric-vehicle charging stations. The agreement also requires the building to meet eco-friendly building standards and utilize photovoltaic panels or wind turbines to generate at least some energy for the facility. The features are part of the “energy station” concept advanced by Port Blakely executives.

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Vision for Issaquah Highlands will be focus as council debates gas station

December 15, 2009

UPDATED — 9:15 a.m. Dec. 15, 2009

A proposal to allow a gas station in the Issaquah Highlands has become the latest flashpoint in the ongoing debate about how development in the hillside community measures up to the vision offered by the developer and the city.

The dispute centers on a revision to the development agreement between the city and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities to allow a gas station to be constructed in the community. Supporters said highlands residents want a gas station for convenience and safety, when severe weather occurs and residents need fuel. Detractors argued a gas station would be a poor fit for a community billed as “green” and pedestrian-friendly.

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Plan ahead for reduced Metro holiday service

November 3, 2009

Plan ahead for reduced Metro holiday service

King County Metro buses will operate on a reduced weekday schedule on several holidays — from Veterans Day until early January. The transit agency will also operate on a full week of reduced service at the end of December.

The reductions are planned for holiday stretches when Metro historically sees 20 percent to 40 percent fewer weekday riders. Metro will operate on a Sunday schedule on several upcoming legal holidays. The reduced weekday schedule will be in effect on:

Nov. 11, Veterans Day

Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving

Dec. 24, Christmas Eve

Dec. 28-31, the winter holiday period and New Year’s Eve

Jan. 18, 2010, Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Metro will operate on a Sunday schedule on the following holidays:

Nov. 26, Thanksgiving

Dec. 25, Christmas

Jan. 1, 2010, New Year’s Day

On weekdays with reduced schedules, some commuter and school-oriented routes do not operate, and other routes will have trips canceled. Many routes will have no changes. Regular fares apply in most cases. View a complete overview of all Metro holiday service at http://metro.kingcounty.gov/up/ holiday-service.html.

The reduced weekday schedule was used on a limited basis last winter. The plan features more bus service than weekend schedules, but less service than a normal weekday.

Development rights swap will protect Issaquah Creek Basin

The developer of a Front Street North condominium complex will be allowed to build more parking after paying to protect sensitive land related to the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer.

The final document related to the process, known as a transfer of development rights, was recorded Oct. 9 with King County.

Arrington Place Condominiums purchased the transfer of development rights to add 1,000 additional square feet of impervious surface for up to five more parking spaces at the complex, 700 Front St. N. The developer needed the additional parking as crews convert the remaining seven apartments into condos.

The purchase of development rights requires a conservation easement to be placed on five acres of developable land. The land serves as a recharge area for the aquifer, a key source of drinking water for Issaquah residents. Because the land has high value as habitat, King County designated the land as a “sending site.” The “receiving site” of the development rights was the condo complex. The conservation easement prevents development on the land forever.

The transfer of development rights was the first from a “sending site” in unincorporated King County to Issaquah. The deal was part of a city-county interlocal agreement approved in February 2007. The agreement provides for 75 transfers of development rights to be sent from environmentally-sensitive-yet-developable areas in the creek basin to be protected by sending the rights to receiving sites in Issaquah.

Salmon Days reels in tons of compostables, recyclables

Salmon Days Festival volunteers diverted 2.8 tons of food waste and compostable cups, bowls, plates and utensils from the landfill. The refuse was sent to Cedar Grove Composting instead.

An additional 1.4 tons of bottles, cans, cardboard and other materials were recycled after the fish-centric festival.

Festival organizers partnered with Cedar Grove, Waste Management, Food Services of America, Kenco, AtWork! and the city Resource Conservation Office to improve the already-impressive environmental record of the festival. Salmon Days is one of the first major festivals to use compostable serviceware.

Salmon Days, held during the sun-splashed Oct. 3-4 weekend, lured more than 180,000 visitors to Issaquah for arts, crafts, food and a chance to watch chinook and coho salmon swim upstream from the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

New food bank Web site aims to increase donations

Donors can give to the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank through a new Web site designed to make it easier for the food bank to raise money and collect donations in tough times.

The site, at http://issaquahfoodbank.org, opens with “Don’t let your neighbors go hungry tonight.”

The site explains how potential donors can give nonperishable food items, as well as clothing, and donate money. The site is updated with lists of needed items. Organizers are in need of clothing for children and infants as winter approaches. Bring items to the food bank, 179 First Ave. S.E.

Visitors to the site can also donate online, and learn how to volunteer with the organization.

Mark Mullet, a member of the food bank board, spearheaded the Web site project, and paid for a Web developer out of his own pocket to develop the updated site. Mullet was expected to be elected to the City Council unopposed Nov. 3.

Mindful of contamination concerns, council approves hospital fuel tanks

October 13, 2009

City Council members approved underground fuel storage tanks planned for the Swedish Medical Center campus in the Issaquah Highlands less than a month after residents raised concerns about the prospect of ground water contamination. Read more

Swedish hospital to create 1,000 jobs

October 6, 2009

A Swedish Medical Center campus under construction in the Issaquah Highlands will create more than 1,000 jobs, from architects to construction workers to neurologists. Read more

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