Mayor Ava Frisinger unveils 2012 city budget

October 4, 2011

Construction could start on a long-planned park along Issaquah Creek, North Issaquah landowners and the city could partner to tackle transportation problems, and police could step up traffic enforcement if the City Council approves the 2012 municipal budget Mayor Ava Frisinger unveiled Oct. 3.

Frisinger offered a $32 million general fund budget — dollars used to fund police and fire services, community development and planning, parks and recreation, and municipal government.

The proposal is not as austere as the budgets Frisinger proposed in recent years. The council adopted a $30.4 million general fund budget in 2011. The increase stems in part from increased debt payments on council-issued bonds for city construction projects.

The proposal does not call for a property tax or rate increases. The council last raised the property tax rate in 2007. Under state law, council members could increase the rate 1 percent per year.

Frisinger’s announcement launched at least a month of deliberations between council members and city staffers to craft a complete budget. The council is required to adopt the budget before Dec. 31.

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King County commits $70,000 to repair city’s retaining wall

September 6, 2011

King County recently agreed to fund repairs to a decade-old retaining wall along Southeast Black Nugget Road as city planners seek to shore up the structure against landslides.

The city closed the sidewalk along the wall in March after soggy conditions caused a small landslide on the slope behind Fred Meyer and The Home Depot. The shifting earth did not pose a risk to motorists or residences atop the hill, but the incident refocused attention on plans to strengthen the wall.

County officials committed $70,000 for upgrades. The project could cost up to $640,000 for substantial renovations. The city is setting aside funds to complete the project in the years ahead.

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Prepare for Squak Mountain water shutdowns

August 23, 2011

Some Squak Mountain residents should prepare for water shutdowns soon as crews continue work on water mains.

The project affects about 15 residences along Greenwood Boulevard Southwest and Idylwood Drive Southwest. The shutdown along Idylwood Drive Southwest could occur from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 24, and the cut along Greenwood Boulevard Southwest could occur from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 29.

The city planned similar shutdowns along Ridgewood Place Southwest and Ridgewood Circle Southwest for about 20 homes Aug. 23.

Call the municipal Public Works Engineering Department at 837-3400 to learn more about the shutdowns and the water main project.

City plans water shutdowns in Squak Mountain neighborhood

August 19, 2011

NEW — 10:30 a.m. Aug. 19, 2011

Some Squak Mountain residents should prepare for water shutdowns soon as crews continue work on water mains.

The project affects about 15 residences along Greenwood Boulevard Southwest and Idylwood Drive Southwest, and another 20 homes along Ridgewood Place Southwest and Ridgewood Circle Southwest.

The shutdown is scheduled to occur between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday along Ridgewood Place Southwest and Ridgewood Circle Southwest, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday along Idylwood Drive Southwest, and between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Aug. 29 along Greenwood Boulevard Southwest.

City planners also released a map and outlined shutdowns for the affected neighborhood.

Call the municipal Public Works Engineering Department at 837-3400 to learn more about the shutdowns and the water main project.

No. 3 official at City Hall, Joe Meneghini, to retire

August 9, 2011

Joe Meneghini

Joe Meneghini, the No. 3 official at City Hall and a behind-the-scenes force in almost every important municipal project for more than a decade, intends to retire after 11 years in the post.

Meneghini is the deputy to City Administrator Bob Harrison. The administrators and Mayor Ava Frisinger oversee all municipal departments, cross-departmental projects, communications and economic development.

Often operating far from the spotlight, Meneghini left indelible imprints on creek restoration and open space preservation efforts, programs to meld technology to city services, and prepare City Hall and residents for emergencies.

The deputy administrator also acted as a key player in the effort to create a downtown park along Issaquah Creek and to bring a Bellevue College campus to Issaquah.

“I think a key thing has been our ability to stay focused and grounded on doing all of our basic business well,” he said.

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City launches $50,000 study to determine how departments coordinate, collaborate

August 2, 2011

Ava Frisinger

Consultants started interviewing employees at City Hall last month, as leaders embark on a $50,000 study to determine how municipal departments function and the city delivers services to businesses and residents.

Mayor Ava Frisinger selected Seattle consultant Moss Adams to examine the Building, Planning and Public Works Engineering departments, in addition to economic development efforts. The focus is on organization and a still-nascent effort to anticipate future service needs.

“It’s always beneficial for organizations to say, ‘How are we doing? Might there be places we could improve?’ Because we want to do the very best that we can at providing services,” Frisinger said. “That’s our mission — we want to do it effectively, not just efficiently.”

Construction in Talus and the Issaquah Highlands — urban villages and the impetus behind the Major Development Review Team — is slowing after a construction boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In addition, the city is refocusing planning efforts on the Central Issaquah Plan — a redevelopment outline for the 915-acre commercial core along Interstate 90.

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Striping starts as connector nears completion

June 21, 2011

Motorists should prepare for ramp closures as crews stripe lanes along state Route 900.

The striping comes as construction nears completion on a pedestrian connector along busy state Route 900 and the westbound Interstate 90 on-ramp. The connector could open to pedestrians and bicyclists by late June.

Starting June 20, contractors started painting the bridges and paving the trail from 12th Avenue Northwest.

The painting requires the interstate on-ramp to be closed during the evening. The contractor plans to post detours for motorists.

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Striping starts as pedestrian connector nears completion

June 20, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. June 20, 2011

Motorists should prepare for ramp closures as crews stripe lanes along state Route 900.

The striping comes as construction nears completion on a pedestrian connector along busy state Route 900 and the westbound Interstate 90 on-ramp. The connector could open to pedestrians and bicyclists by late June.

Starting Monday, contractors plan to start painting the bridges and paving the trail from 12th Avenue Northwest.

The painting requires the interstate on-ramp to be closed during the evening. The contractor plans to post detours for motorists.

In addition, striping is also occurring on state Route 900 to shift travel lanes back to pre-construction positions. Crews reoriented some lanes and closed a high-occupancy vehicle lane to allow for construction. The state Route 900 striping is planned for the week of July 4 or 11, depending on weather conditions.

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Council approves transportation plan

May 24, 2011

Proposal outlines repairs to weakened retaining wall

City Council members laid out a roadmap for Issaquah transportation projects May 2.

The council 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 2012-17.

“Having a project on the TIP makes it eligible for certain types of funding, but more broadly, it signals to the community what improvements we’re considering for the future,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said before the unanimous decision.

The city Public Works Engineering Department lists transportation projects in the TIP, and then prioritizes the projects through a separate process to fund capital improvements.

Transportation planners outlined possible improvements to the timber retaining wall along Southeast Black Nugget Road behind Fred Meyer and The Home Depot.

Some timbers started to dislodge, rot is prevalent, pressure distorted some pilings and the fence atop the wall is failing. The city attributes the problems to shoddy construction. The timber was cut too short and too thin for the area. In addition, the structure was not properly treated.

King County could provide some funding to offset the estimated $496,000 repair cost.

“We’ve been talking with King County for a couple of years now, and we’re very close to reaching an agreement with them whereby we can receive some funds fairly quickly, with the possibility of additional funds over an undetermined period of time,” Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock told the council.

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Landslide poses risk to Squak Mountain neighborhood’s utilities

April 26, 2011

City Council OKs study to find possible solutions

A car drives past the landslide on Mountainside Drive Southwest during the morning commute April 25. By Greg Farrar

The city has agreed to spend $30,000 to gather data on a landslide creeping down a Squak Mountain hillside and threatening utilities leading to the Forest Rim neighborhood.

The landslide poses a risk to the only utility lines and road to the hilltop neighborhood of about 100 homes. Forest Rim is the highest-elevation neighborhood on the mountain.

“The earth essentially just decided it was time,” Sheldon Lynne, city deputy public works engineering director, told City Council members April 18. “It couldn’t hold itself up any longer.”

The landslide is inching down Squak Mountain near a switchback along Mountainside Drive Southwest, less than a mile downhill from Forest Rim. The section of displaced hillside is about 200 feet across and stretches about 100 feet from end to eroded end.

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