Former Councilwoman Maureen McCarry dies

July 5, 2012

NEW — 11:45 a.m. July 5, 2012

Maureen McCarry, a former councilwoman and longtime community leader, died early Wednesday after a battle against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, 18 months after resigning from the City Council.

Maureen McCarry

McCarry served on the council amid a period of expansion in Issaquah, as council members addressed long-term issues related to transportation, economic development and the environment — a hallmark for McCarry.

In separate stints on the council in the 1990s and 2000s, she made the environment a priority.

The commitment earned McCarry the Ruth Kees Environmental Award for a Sustainable Community early last year. The top environmental honor in the city recognized McCarry for tireless efforts to forge agreements outlining construction in the Issaquah Highlands and Talus, preserve forested Park Pointe on Tiger Mountain and strengthen tree-protection rules.

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City Council approves Issaquah Highlands land sale

May 1, 2012

City Council members agreed April 16 to sell land to homebuilder Polygon Homes, despite objections from local environmentalists.

The city earned $80,000 in the land sale — dollars earmarked for landscaping in Central Park and elsewhere, wetland programs and Park Pointe conservation.

The property is 14,693 square feet, or about the size of the Issaquah Library, in the Issaquah Highlands’ Forest Ridge subdivision. Polygon intends to use the land for residences.

The property is included in the complicated Park Pointe transfer of development rights. In exchange for preserving a forested Tiger Mountain site near Issaquah High School, officials agreed to open additional highlands land to development. The long process ended in March 2011.

Despite the conditions council members added to the agreement, leaders in the environmental community protested the decision.

David Kappler, Issaquah Alps Trails Club president and a former councilman, and Janet Wall, a longtime local environmentalist, urged the council to reconsider. Kappler raised safety concerns about a trail leading to the property.

The council approved the sale in a 5-1 decision. Councilman Paul Winterstein dissented. Councilman Joshua Schaer did not attend the meeting.

Press Editorial

April 17, 2012

Give a nod to planet Earth

Arbor Day is April 21, followed by Earth Day on April 22. Both are an equal opportunity to show appreciation for the third rock from the sun.

The city Parks & Recreation Department will plant 150 trees along Issaquah Creek on Saturday in honor of Arbor Day. Just last week, the city earned Tree City USA status for the 19th year.

Earth Day gets a jumpstart in Issaquah on Thursday when Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon fry are released into Laughing Jacobs Creek. Public tours are available this weekend to see what happens to unrecycled garbage at the Cedar Hills Landfill in south Issaquah. Also south of the city limits, volunteers will mulch and weed the Log Cabin Natural Area along Issaquah Creek. Volunteers will do back-country trail work on Cougar Mountain.

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Citizens can comment on proposed Issaquah Highlands land sale

April 10, 2012

The city could sell a small parcel in the Issaquah Highlands, and residents can offer input on the proposal April 16.

The property under consideration is 14,693 square feet, or about the size of the Issaquah Library, in the Issaquah Highlands’ Forest Ridge subdivision. If sold, the land could be used for residences.

People interested in the proposed transaction can appear at the City Council’s public hearing and offer input for or against the item, or provide comments about the proposed agreement. The council meets in the Council Chambers at City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way, at 7:30 p.m.

The property is part of a complicated transfer of development rights completed in March 2011. In exchange for preserving a forested Tiger Mountain site near Issaquah High School, officials agreed to open additional highlands land to development.

Mayor focuses on economy in State of the City address

February 7, 2012

Mayor Ava Frisinger highlighted a more muscular economic development effort and a reshuffled City Hall structure in the State of the City address — the speech to set Issaquah leaders’ agenda for the months ahead.

The address, delivered Feb. 6, days after the city announced employee layoffs, echoed a top priority from the City Council — a concerted effort to attract businesses to Issaquah and convince established businesses to remain in the city. The effort to remake City Hall functions also dominated the speech.

Ava Frisinger

“A major focus for 2012 will be enhancing our economic vitality, which is a community’s capacity to be economically competitive, resilient and attractive to both private and public enterprise,” Frisinger said.

Under a reorganization plan prepared by Seattle consultant Moss Adams and delivered late last year, the city focused on efficiency and effectiveness. The consultant discovered different cultures, expectations and management styles across municipal departments. Moss Adams pointed out the differences in coordination, scheduling and tracking across departments.

“In the end, our goal is to enhance customer service, find efficiencies and prepare our city for the years and decades ahead,” Frisinger said.

Though the reorganization emerged as a strong theme, Frisinger also used the address to spotlight ongoing projects.

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Issaquah mayor focuses on economy in State of the City address

February 7, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Feb. 7, 2012

Mayor Ava Frisinger highlighted a more muscular economic development effort and a reshuffled City Hall structure in the State of the City address — the speech to set Issaquah leaders’ agenda for the months ahead.

Ava Frisinger

The address, delivered Monday, days after the city announced employee layoffs, echoed a top priority from the City Council — a concerted effort to attract businesses to Issaquah and convince established businesses to remain in the city. The effort to remake City Hall functions also dominated the speech.

“A major focus for 2012 will be enhancing our economic vitality, which is a community’s capacity to be economically competitive, resilient and attractive to both private and public enterprise,” Frisinger said.

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Weather postpones mayor’s State of the City address

January 24, 2012

The potential for snow prompted city leaders to cancel the Jan. 17 City Council meeting and reschedule Mayor Ava Frisinger’s State of the City address.

The mayor is due to deliver the annual speech at the Feb. 6 council meeting. The address, plus a council goal-setting retreat each spring and the budget proposal each fall, helps form the municipal budget and priorities for the year ahead.

The council meets at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way.

The latest State of the City address comes as Frisinger and other leaders offer a renewed focus on economic development and reorganize City Hall operations.

In the 2011 address, Frisinger predicted “a momentous year for Issaquah” — and many milestones outlined in the speech came to pass in the months soon afterward. The city preserved the Park Pointe site on Tiger Mountain after a yearslong process, opened ultra-“green” Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72 and joined Swedish Medical Center to inaugurate the Swedish/Issaquah campus.

City Council bids farewell to outgoing member John Traeger

January 17, 2012

In a dignified sendoff Dec. 19, City Council members bid farewell to Council President John Traeger.

John Traeger

Traeger decided in late April to step down after a single term as a councilman after leading the council through a busy period.

Other council members elected the technology consultant and Squak Mountain resident to lead the board for 2010 and again for 2011. Under Traeger, council members preserved the forested Park Pointe site near Issaquah High School, hired City Administrator Bob Harrison and embarked on a landmark reorganization of city government.

In addition, the council president runs semimonthly council meetings and monthly Committee-of-the-Whole Council meetings, handles committee assignments and represents the city if Mayor Ava Frisinger is absent.

“I will miss Councilmember Traeger’s presence on the council and his thorough research and good, solid work as a council member,” Frisinger said at the last council meeting Traeger attended as a member.

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Issaquah Councilman Mark Mullet enters state Senate race against Cheryl Pflug

January 10, 2012

Issaquah Councilman Mark Mullet is embarking on a campaign for the state Senate against incumbent Cheryl Pflug, Issaquah’s representative in the chamber.

Mullet, a Democrat and the proprietor of Zeeks Pizza and Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop in the Issaquah Highlands, became the latest local candidate to enter a race for state office in recent days.

Pflug, a registered nurse and Maple Valley Republican, intends to run for re-election to the seat.

Mark Mullet

Mullet focused on education and the economy in a pre-announcement interview. He also said the 5th Legislative District needs closer ties among the state senator and city leaders throughout the sprawling district.

In 2004, Pflug, then a state representative, succeeded Dino Rossi in the state Senate; she has been subsequently re-elected.

The field also includes Republican Brad Toft, a Snoqualmie businessman. More candidates could enter the race before the May filing deadline.

Issaquah and other local voters pick the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, Aug. 7 in the all-mail primary election.

The former 5th Legislative District posed a challenge to Democrats. The redrawn district debuting in the 2012 election sheds some Issaquah neighborhoods for a more rural — and conservative — character.

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Conservationists laud Issaquah land-preservation deal

January 10, 2012

Forterra, the former Cascade Land Conservancy, lauded local efforts to preserve open space in a 2011 roundup of land conservation efforts throughout the region.

Overall, Forterra contributed to efforts to preserve almost 5,000 acres of forests, farmlands and natural areas last year. The nonprofit organization recognized Issaquah for a successful transfer of development rights program.

The long-running effort to preserve Park Pointe — a slice of Tiger Mountain forest near Issaquah High School — ended in March 2011, after more than a decade of public and behind-the-scenes negotiations to halt construction of hundreds of houses once proposed for the land.

Under the agreement, officials instead steered development from the Park Pointe site to land in the Issaquah Highlands.

Issaquah is a Cascade Agenda Leadership City — a long-range planning effort from Forterra meant to reduce unchecked growth and encourage denser development in the region. The program includes 18 cities throughout the Puget Sound region.

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