Commission questions rezoning of parkland

May 3, 2011

The city Planning Policy Commission raised questions April 28 before rezoning downtown open space to accommodate a long-planned park.

The city needed to rezone the park parcels from open space to community parks before the development process could proceed. The site encompasses Tollë Anderson, Cybil-Madeline and Issaquah Creek parks. The city Parks & Recreation Department intends to develop the parcels as a single park. The city cannot develop a community park on open space due to zoning restrictions.

“We’re rezoning all of them because we’re treating the confluence park as one big community park,” city Associate Planner Jason Rogers said in a presentation to the commission.

The proposal prompted some grumbling from Planning Policy Commission members.

“If you’re asking me to approve the zoning so we can have a large park area, I agree. I have no argument with that,” Commissioner Irv Levin said. “If that’s as far as I’m involved, then I have no argument. I am curious with what you’re going to do with all of that park area.”

The city hosted public meetings last year to gather input about the site. Residents can comment about the parks again at a May 4 community conference — a public meeting to gather additional input about the proposal.

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Issaquah growth center proposal raises questions

May 3, 2011

The nascent proposal to add almost 5,000 residential units to the business district in a pedestrian- and transit-friendly hub received a skeptical reception from city planning commissioners last week.

The city is considering a proposal to add a regional growth center in a bid to attract dollars for transportation and mass transit to Issaquah. The initial plans outline such a hub in 915-acre Central Issaquah, the commercial area spread along Interstate 90 and state Route 900.

The long-term blueprint for the Puget Sound region calls for areas designated as regional growth centers. The designation helps officials plan regional transportation infrastructure and determine the best sites for economic development.

The centers also receive higher priority for state and federal funding in order to connect the regional hubs — a crucial selling point.

Still, Planning Policy Commission members raised questions about a proposal to create a regional growth center and add up to 4,650 residential units in a dense neighborhood.

“I think the biggest question is, do we want to do this?” Commissioner Joan Probala asked during the April 28 meeting. “Because when we decide that we want to do it, you’re looking at changing the rest of the areas to some extent, and you’re going to encourage building to happen there” in the targeted area.

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City Council confirms, lauds municipal board appointees

May 3, 2011

Onetime City Council finalist Paul Winterstein is going to continue serving the city on the Human Services Commission, the liaison between social service groups and municipal government.

The council appointed Winterstein and 35 other people as members and alternates to city boards and commissions April 18. Terms on the 11 affected boards start May 1. The city does not pay members.

“I am continually amazed at the number of people — and their qualifications — that stepped forward to fill our boards and commissions,” Councilman Fred Butler said before the unanimous decision to appoint the members. “It seems to me in going through the applications and the qualifications of folks, we’ve got an especially strong group of people filling some critical holes on our boards and commissions again this year.”

The city put out a call for board and commission applicants in January. Then, Mayor Ava Frisinger and board officers narrowed the applicant pool, and recommended appointees to the council for approval.

The city is continuing the interview process for alternates to serve on the Sister Cities and Urban Village Development commissions.

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Fred Butler announces re-election campaign

April 5, 2011

Longtime Councilman Fred Butler, a respected authority on regional transit issues, announced plans March 29 to run for a fourth term.

Fred Butler

The incumbent candidate, a Squak Mountain resident and a retired U.S. Army colonel, joined the City Council more than a decade ago, and served on the board as Issaquah experienced a population boom.

“I want to continue to serve the citizens of Issaquah and the region with my enthusiasm, energy and experience to make Issaquah a better place,” he said in a statement. “I am committed to working collaboratively to solve problems. I pledge to work hard, listen and help when I can.”

Butler, a Sound Transit board member, served last year on a regional effort to guide King County Metro Transit service in the decades ahead. In addition, County Executive-elect Dow Constantine tapped Butler to serve on the transition team as Constantine shifted from the County Council to the top county office in 2009.

On the Issaquah council, Butler serves as deputy council president, the No. 2 position on the board.

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Councilman Fred Butler announces re-election campaign

March 29, 2011

NEW — 5:15 p.m. March 29, 2011

Fred Butler

Longtime Councilman Fred Butler, a respected authority on regional transit issues, announced plans Tuesday to run for a fourth term.

The incumbent candidate, a Squak Mountain resident and a retired U.S. Army colonel, joined the City Council more than a decade ago, and served on the board as Issaquah experienced a population boom.

“I want to continue to serve the citizens of Issaquah and the region with my enthusiasm, energy and experience to make Issaquah a better place,” he said in a statement. “I am committed to working collaboratively to solve problems. I pledge to work hard, listen and help when I can.”

Butler, a Sound Transit board member, served last year on a regional effort to guide King County Metro Transit service in the decades ahead. In addition, then-County Executive-elect Dow Constantine tapped Butler to serve on the transition team as Constantine shifted from the County Council to the top county office in 2009.

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Maureen McCarry receives city’s top environmental award

March 22, 2011

Maureen McCarry smiles March 21 as her husband Tom Knollmann and the City Hall audience applaud her for receiving the Ruth Kees Environmental Award. By Greg Farrar

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.

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City Council interviews applicants Tuesday

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.

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Issaquah recreation facilities remain open; meeting rescheduled

February 24, 2011

NEW — 11:40 a.m. Feb. 24, 2011

Despite the snowstorm, Julius Boehm Pool and the Issaquah Community Center open for regular hours Thursday.

Some community center classes and programs may be canceled, so participants should call 837-3326 for updated cancellation information.

The city has rescheduled the Planning Policy Commission meeting set for 6:30 p.m. to March 3.

The commission had been scheduled to discuss the transportation vision outlined in the Central Issaquah Plan, a sweeping document meant to guide redevelopment in the 915-acre business district in the months ahead.

The discussion is on the agenda for the March 3 meeting.

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City Council candidates offer varied skills for post

February 15, 2011

Interviews start March 1 for nine council contenders

Candidates offer assorted skills for the open City Council seat created after Maureen McCarry resigned in late December.

The candidates bring backgrounds in community, military and municipal service to the interview process.

The midterm opening for the Position 5 seat attracted nine candidates.

Candidates face the council in public interviews scheduled for March 1. 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.

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.

McCarry created the vacancy late last year after she resigned to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

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City Council calls for candidates to fill seat

January 11, 2011

City Council members turned to a time-tested plan last week to appoint a resident to the seat left vacant after Maureen McCarry resigned late last month.

The resignation left the council shorthanded until at least March. The schedule adopted Jan. 3 sets applicant interviews for late February and includes more than a month for potential candidates to mull a decision.

The process is similar to the steps used to fill a vacant council seat in 2006 and another in 1998. Read more

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