City Council approves new street, lighting, walkway projects for Edmonds

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From installing overlays on a beat-up stretch of Dayton Street from Highway 104 to the railroad tracks, to re-aligning the intersection of Highway 99 at 228th and adding a new traffic signal, the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night unanimously approved a six-year Transportation Improvement Program that includes a range of street improvement projects in neighborhoods citywide.

Some of the projects will be funded partially or fully through state and federal grants, while others will use city general funds or a combination of all sources. Starting in 2014, additional projects will be completed only if voters pass a $40 increase (in addition to the existing $20) in vehicle license fees on the November general election ballot.

In addition, the council voted 4-2 (Councilmembers Lora Petso and Steve Bernheim dissenting) to approve an amendment, proposed by Councilmember D.J. Wilson, to allocate $50,000 from the city’s general fund to include “traffic calming” projects as part of the six-year plan, in locations to be determined.

Projects for 2011-13 include:

-Dayton Street overlay.

– 228th Street Southwest corridor improvement, to address the number of collisions due to high speeds on Highway 99.  The improvement includes a new traffic signal at Highway 99 and 228th Street and a new pedestrian crossing on the highway at some point between 238th and 224 streets.

– Construction to complete the Interurban trail from 244th Street Southwest at the Shoreline/Edmonds border to 228th Street Southwest in Mountlake Terrace, including paving and signage.

– Install new pedestrian lighting on both sides of Main Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.

– Install a walkway between between 188th Street Southwest and 190th Street Southwest and on 180th Street between 80th Avenue West and Olympic View Drive.

– Construct an emergency access road from the Shell Valley subdivision to Main Street.

– Install a sidewalk on 226th Street Southwest between Highway 104 and 105th Place West to complete a safe pedestrian connection from Highway 104 to Sherwood Elementary.

A full list of all projects, including costs, potential funding sources and budgets, can be found here.

The council also approved — following a public hearing — updates to land use review procedures contained in the Edmonds Community Development Code, with a lengthy discussion about what form citizen appeals of land use decisions should take. As originally written, the updated code would allow for written appeals but Council President Steve Bernheim — supported by a majority of the council — approved an amendment to permit citizens to provide oral arguments as well. City Attorney Scott Snyder had cautioned against allowing oral arguments because citizens often will present new information verbally that is not supported in accompanying written documentation. “If an error is made and the council doesn’t catch it, and it ends up as a finding of fact, the decision can be overturned,” Snyder said.

Councilmember Strom Peterson agreed with Snyder, noting that citizens who chose to make oral arguments are often pitted against attorneys, “and suddenly the burden of having an attorney with you becomes exponentially greater.”

All four citizens testifying during the public hearing came out strongly in favor of allowing citizens the option of giving both oral and written testimony. “Some folks don’t write as well as they are able to communicate verbally,” noted Richard Senderoff of Edmonds.

Following the amendment, the measure was approved on a 5-1 vote, with Peterson voting no.

The agenda then turned to a report by Councilmember Diane Buckshnis on the 2010 Citizens Levy Committee, followed by a discussion regarding the 2009-10 mid-year budget adjustment. The latter was an item that has been on the council agenda before but has been postponed due to councilmembers’ dissatisfaction with budget numbers they have been receiving from the city finance office.

For the first time since Mike Cooper’s appointment as the city’s new mayor in July, the discussion between the council and mayor grew tense and heated. Councilmembers continued to vent about not being able to understand the city’s accounting system and the way budget numbers were being presented, while Cooper directly challenged any councilmember to sit down with the mayor and his budget director Lorenzo Hines “if there are questions about this you don’t understand.”

My Edmonds News correspondent “Citizen Harry” Gatjens, who is familiar with city budget issues, is writing a separate report about that part of the council discussion and it will be posted here.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Having everyone who needs an explanation of the city’s financial information meet with the mayor and the financial director would be very inefficient. A better first step would be to produce budget reports that are in fact reports. For recent reporting periods all that has been issued is data dumps; no qualitative information – like a narrative explaining meaningful deviations.

    Even with the best of reports there will be questions. What worked well with previous financial directors was timely responses to emails that could be shared with others. Now the administration generally does not answer emails.

  2. I attended last night’s council meeting in order to speak when audience comments are taken. I asked Mayor Cooper to respond to two outstanding issues when it came time later in the meeting for mayor’s comments. Those issues are:

    1)0N SEPT 1ST I SENT AN EMAIL TO MR. HINES ASKING HIM TO EXPLAIN WHY HIS BUDGET WORKSHOP ESTIMATE FOR 2010 GENERAL FUND REVENUE IS MORE THAN $2 MILLION ABOVE THE PRIOR OUTLOOK PROVIDED IN JUNE. I DID NOT HEAR ANYTHING BACK FROM HIM, SO ON SEPT 8TH I SENT THE QUESTION TO MAYOR COOPER AND COPIED MR. HINES. STILL NO RESPONSE FROM EITHER ONE. BUT NOBODY IS DISCRIMINATING AGAINST ME, AS I UNDERSTAND THAT SEVERAL OTHERS ALSO HAVE NOT RECEIVED ANSWERS. MR. MAYOR I HOPE YOU’LL ANSWER TONIGHT.

    2)THE HEARING EXAMINER ISSUE. 3 WEEKS AGO MAYOR COOPER PROMISED AN EXPLANATION AS TO WHY THE H.E. FIRM WAS NOT INTERESTED IN RE-NEWING ITS CONTRACT WITH OUR CITY, HOPEFULLY WE’LL HEAR ABOUT THAT LATER TONIGHT.

    I left the meeting before its ending and watched the remainder today on CH 21. To my disappointment the mayor did not answer either of my questions and none of the 6 council members present enquired about them.

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