Issaquah balloons from small town to boomtown

February 21, 2012

Most citizens did not need a decennial update from the U.S. Census Bureau to recognize Issaquah as a boomtown.

The dramatic increase in population is a recent phenomenon.

Issaquah started as a pinpoint on maps, a remote hamlet in the rough-and-tumble Washington Territory.

Even as Seattle boomed amid World War II and into the postwar era, Issaquah did not crest 4,000 people until the late 1960s.

The population growth continued at a deliberate pace until a Microsoft-powered population explosion caused Issaquah and other Eastside cities to expand as the last century barreled to a close.

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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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City seeks applicants for municipal boards, commissions

February 7, 2012

City leaders need civic-minded citizens to offer advice on key issues as municipal board and commission members, even as officials remain undecided about just how many such groups Issaquah needs.

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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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City seeks applicants for municipal boards, commissions

January 30, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Jan. 30, 2012

City leaders need civic-minded citizens to offer advice on key issues as municipal board and commission members, even as officials remain undecided about just how many such groups Issaquah needs.

The city needs applicants for openings on 12 boards and commissions. The groups advise the City Council on issues related to the arts, cable TV, development, parks and, in more specialized realms, city cemetery operations and sister-city relationships.

Officials need regular and alternate members. Applicants for board and commission posts do not need to reside in Issaquah.

Applicants undergo interviews before Mayor Ava Frisinger recommends appointees to council members for confirmation. The council usually confirms appointees in the spring. Terms for appointees start in May.

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Downed trees prompt state Route 900, Southeast 56th Street road closures

January 19, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. Jan. 19, 2012

Downed trees and power lines prompted road closures on state Route 900 in Issaquah and rural King County early Thursday morning.

Crews responded a downed tree and power lines before 7:50 a.m. between Northwest Talus Drive and the southern city limits. The stretch between the access road to the Talus urban village and the city line remains closed as Puget Sound Energy crews tend to the downed tree.

Outside city limits, in rural King County, the state Department of Transportation said state Route 900 is closed at Southeast May Valley Road due to a downed tree.

In Issaquah, Southeast 56th Street from 229th Avenue Southeast to East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast is closed due to downed power lines.

The closures came as ice weighted down trees and power lines, contributing to road closures and power outages throughout the region.

PSE reported more than 12,000 customers in the Issaquah area without power at 9:55 a.m.

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Downed trees snarl morning commutes in Issaquah area

January 19, 2012

NEW — 7:25 a.m. Jan. 19, 2012

Fallen trees caused road closures and traffic headaches early Thursday, as icy conditions caused fresh problems a day after a major snowstorm.

Newport Way Northwest from Northwest Oakcrest Drive to state Route 900 is closed due to a downed tree. State Route 900 from Northwest Talus Drive to the southern city limits is closed due to a downed tree.

Meanwhile, outside Issaquah city limits, state Route 18 is closed in both directions from Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast to Interstate 90 due to multiple fallen trees blocking the lanes.

Puget Sound Energy reported more than 1,200 without power at 7:45 a.m.

Early Thursday, National Weather Service meteorologists issued a regional ice storm warning through noon. Forecasters said to expect travel impacts related to icy conditions, although temperatures should start to rise by midday.

City road crews continue to focus on high-priority routes, as ice poses a different challenge than the snow from previous days.

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Timber Ridge at Talus wins ‘green’ award

January 3, 2012

The International Council on Active Aging has selected Timber Ridge at Talus to receive the 2011 ICAA Green Award, a category of its annual innovators program.

Timber Ridge at Talus is an Issaquah senior living community at the base of Cougar Mountain.

ICAA’s awards honor senior living communities that set standards and make a difference in the lives of senior citizens. The Green Award specifically recognizes organizations that encourage environmental stewardship by creating or implementing eco-friendly products, services, designs or programs, among other possible steps.

In 2008, Timber Ridge at Talus brought residents into the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified continuing care retirement community in the U.S.

Timber Ridge achieved Silver Certification based on criteria such as site development, water efficiency, energy optimization and indoor environmental quality.

One additional way Timber Ridge has reduced its environmental impact is by using Eco-Ware Containers. Previously, the Timber Ridge food and beverage department went through 5,000 compostable paper containers per month. The Eco-Ware containers reduce nonbiodegradable waste and do not occupy space in landfills.

Additionally, Timber Ridge has a recycling program that encourages residents to recycle the approximately 130 newspapers delivered daily to the community.

“We are honored to be recognized as one of the North America’s most innovative green retirement communities and to receive this award from the ICAA,” Scott Doherty, executive director of Timber Ridge at Talus, said in a statement.

As an ICAA award-winner, Timber Ridge will receive a crystal award of recognition and be featured in an upcoming issue of ICAA’s main publication, the Journal on Active Aging.

Milestones from the year 2011 reflect changes

December 27, 2011

Renewal defined the year, as the community paused after a population boom and economic bust — and positioned Issaquah for the decades ahead.

Milestones from the last 12 months offer contrasts.

Leaders opened showcases for “green” design and concluded a milestone effort to preserve Tiger Mountain forestland. Tragedy left indelible impressions, too, as a gunman menaced downtown pedestrians on a September morning and turned a school campus into a crime scene.

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In major development decision, city OKs buildings up to 150 feet in business district

December 22, 2011

NEW — 9:30 p.m. Dec. 22, 2011

Tall buildings could someday punctuate the skyline in the modest business district along state Route 900, after city leaders created a framework Monday to transform acre upon acre blanketed in storage units, low-slung office buildings and automotive service centers into a dense neighborhood for shops and homes.

In a landmark decision, City Council members approved a 30-year agreement between the city and longtime Issaquah developer Rowley Properties to overhaul almost 80 acres in the coming decades. The council agreed to allow buildings up to 150 feet tall and mixed-use development on up to 4.4 million square feet in Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center — parcels along Interstate 90 and state Route 900.

The landowner, in turn, is required to pay for transportation upgrades, affordable housing construction, Tibbetts Creek restoration efforts and storm-water system improvements.

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