March 29, 2011
Park Pointe protection occurs after years long effort to stop proposed construction
The long-running saga to preserve Park Pointe — a slice of Tiger Mountain forest near Issaquah High School — ended late March 24, after more than a decade of public and behind-the-scenes negotiations to halt construction of hundreds of houses once proposed for the land.
The tradeoff: Under the agreement, city leaders steered construction from Park Pointe to the Issaquah Highlands instead, and, as a result, preserved more than 140 acres in the process.
“I think that this will transform the community in a very, very positive way,” Mayor Ava Frisinger said, minutes after the deal closed. “It has the three elements of sustainability. It has the environment — the environmental protection and preservation. It has a huge social element. It has economic vitality benefits as well.”
The historic conservation effort is part of a complicated transfer of development rights.
City planners and officials shepherded the agreement through the arduous process after Frisinger outlined the landmark opportunity to preserve Park Pointe in late 2008.
In the years since, representatives from the city, highlands developer Port Blakely Communities and other partners pursued the project until the recession scuttled the developer behind the proposed Park Pointe development.
Since a Seattle bank foreclosed on the land from the defunct developer last March, the preservation effort lurched into gear. Issaquah and King County officials adopted a series of agreements late last year to advance the process.
March 29, 2011
Council vote was almost a time warp
As the Issaquah City Council’s first vote to fill its vacancy ended in a 3-3 tie, my life suddenly began flashing before my eyes.
And all I could think after the second ballot was, “Thank you, Joshua Schaer!”
If it hadn’t been for his wisdom and flexibility, I might’ve relived one of the craziest news stories of my life, the headline being, and I’m not making this up, “56 ballots to a council deadlock” in the Edmonds Enterprise in January 1984.
That was during my first full-time newspaper job just out of college, and not only was I doing the photography, but on that small staff one of my writing beats was Edmonds city government.
Here are hypothetical questions for you: What if the Southeast Bypass was still the major policy issue dividing Issaquah’s City Council? What if Maureen McCarry’s retirement had left the council in two evenly split coalitions?
March 23, 2011
NEW — 6 a.m. March 23, 2011
Former Councilwoman Maureen McCarry received double honors Monday, as she accepted a major honor and the city proclaimed the day as Maureen McCarry Day.
Mayor Ava Frisinger and Swedish Medical Center issued the proclamation for McCarry’s efforts to bring a hospital campus to the Issaquah Highlands. The hospital is scheduled to open in July.
The proclamation called on residents to thank McCarry for service to the community.
The mayor announced the proclamation Monday after McCarry received the top environmental honor in Issaquah, the Ruth Kees Environmental Award for a Sustainable Community.
March 22, 2011
The latest recipient of the top environmental honor in Issaquah acted as a guiding force — in public and behind the scenes — in the long-running effort to shape neighborhoods and preserve undeveloped land.
Leaders elevated Maureen McCarry into the pantheon alongside other important conservation activists, and bestowed the Ruth Kees Environmental Award for a Sustainable Community on the former councilwoman at a City Hall ceremony March 21.
March 22, 2011
Now is the time for candidates to step up
Campaign season for City Council seats is off and running. Already? Yes, already.
The campaign announcement last month from Councilman Joshua Schaer and the strong turnout from residents in the recent effort to appoint a citizen to the council shows campaign season is on.
Now is the time for people considering public office in the community to start raising the possibility to family and potential supporters. Now, most importantly, is also the time to start engaging residents about the issues facing Issaquah in the next election.
Residents deserve a robust campaign featuring a full slate of candidates, not a repeat of the drowsy council and Issaquah School Board campaigns from 2009.
The importance of council and school board races cannot be overstated.
Leaders in the city and school district set a large chunk of property tax rates for local homeowners. The city is in the midst of long-term planning efforts for the business district and a downtown park, so a continued tradition of thoughtful leadership is important in the years ahead.
March 15, 2011
Council offers reality TV moment in tiebreaker
The protracted process to turn a resident from Jane or John Q. Public into a City Council member did not, despite high hopes, resemble a reality TV showdown.
If behind-the-scenes catfights did indeed occur amid the bonhomie and pitch-perfect presentations, none spilled out. Harrumph.
So, the group on hand March 1 for the pitches to the council — and applicants outnumbered attendees — observed no backbiting or sabotage, no bad-mouthing or name-calling. Instead, the process felt a little like the Miss America Pageant.
Mary Lou Pauly, a Development Commission member since Issaquah claimed less than 9,000 people, earned the congeniality sash for describing the applicant list as “well-spoken, outspoken and opinionated” — some of the most-desired qualities in a public official and, coincidentally, certain reality TV show contestants.
The dressed-to-impress applicants, in chipper proposals to the half-dozen council members, ticked through mileslong résumés and laudable ideas for the city.
Joe Forkner, to scrounge a metaphor from Aesop, turned out to be the tortoise — ceaselessly dependable and steady, if not flashy.
In the conversational category: Nathan Perea, a council candidate in 2009 and, to extend the metaphor to another candidate, the hare in the application process.
Yeah, I realize the hare has a longstanding reputation as a pain in the cottontail, but I apply the description to Perea because the erstwhile — and perhaps future? — candidate offers boundless enthusiasm for Issaquah.
March 8, 2011
City Council members appointed attorney Stacy Goodman to the council March 7, ending a monthslong process to fill the seat.
“I believe there is a space up at the dais for you to occupy,” Mayor Ava Frisinger said after she administered the oath of office.
Goodman, a past editor of The Issaquah Press, adds a fresh face — and a long résumé as a civic volunteer and municipal board member — to the seven-member council. The former journalist bested eight other applicants to succeed former Councilwoman Maureen McCarry, and to hold the post until after the November council election.
March 7, 2011
NEW — 9 p.m. March 7, 2011
City Council members appointed Stacy Goodman to the council Monday night, ending a monthslong process to fill the seat and adding a fresh face to the board.
The council listened to applicants for a vacant seat for 90 minutes last week, but needed 20 minutes — and a couple of rounds of balloting — to appoint a successor to former Councilwoman Maureen McCarry.
March 2, 2011
NEW — 11 a.m. March 2, 2011
City Council applicants, dressed in suits and skirts, on Tuesday night faced the half dozen city leaders responsible for selecting a resident to serve on the council for the next 10 months.
Then, after the presentations, the council met in a closed-door session to discuss candidates’ qualifications. The decision to appoint a resident to the Position 5 seat is expected to occur Monday.
“I think almost everybody who put their hand up to come be a council member is well-spoken, outspoken and opinionated,” longtime Development Commission member and applicant Mary Lou Pauly said. “We’re all going to participate as actively as we can. That means doing our homework, reading the reports, getting prepared and then coming to the meetings with something to offer.”
February 28, 2011
NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 28, 2011
The nine applicants for a City Council vacancy face the council Tuesday night, as the process to select a successor to former Councilwoman Maureen McCarry nears a coda.
Candidates face the council in public interviews scheduled for a special council meeting at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 135 E. Sunset Way. Then, after the 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.
Many candidates bring experience in municipal government or a keen understanding of council business to the interview process.
The vote to appoint a member to the council is scheduled for March 7, though the appointee might not join the council until later in the month. The salary for council members is $700 per month.