The Edmonds City Council Tuesday night voted unanimously to proceed with designing a roundabout for the Five Corners intersection at 212th Street Southwest and 84th Avenue West. The council authorized the mayor to sign a consultant agreement to complete plans, specifications, environmental documentation, cost estimate, and right-of way-services.
The idea of placing a roundabout at the current five-way stop has been the subject of significant discussion among councilmembers and citizens, especially those who haven’t had an opportunity to use one and were concerned about its safety and effectiveness.
In fact, Councilmember Michael Plunkett admitted somewhat sheepishly that until he asked the question Tuesday night, he assumed that roundabouts — which route traffic in a one-way pattern around an intersection with entrances and exits — actually had stop signs.
Public Works Director Phil Williams noted that those not familiar with roundabouts may not like the idea at first, but studies have proven them to be more efficient for vehicles and safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Roundabouts have long been in use in European countries and are becoming increasingly familiar in the U.S.
“Two years after it’s been in place, no one will remember why it was controversial,” Williams said.
While Councilmember Lora Petso ended up voting in favor of proceeding with design, she did have concerns that citizens did not have a chance to specifically comment on the roundabout since it has always been included as part of a list of transportation projects, rather than introduced separately.
Councilmember DJ Wilson added that residents he talked with were against the idea of building a roundabout by a 70-percent to 30-percent ratio until he informed them the majority of design costs were being covered by grant money, which shifted the approval to 90 percent.
Roundabout design and environmental phases are scheduled for 2011 through 2012 and the right of way acquisition phase is set to begin in the fall of 2012. The city received a federal grant for $463,000 to fund final design and right-of-way acquisition; a required 13.5 percent local match will be paid for through the city’s Street Fund. The city will continue to pursue grant money for the construction phase, Williams said
A generation gap of sorts appeared during a presentation by City Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite regarding the proposed design for the small courtyard area located in front of Old Milltown at 5th and Dayton. Hite explained that she had formed an ad hoc committee of stakeholders, including representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, the Floretum Garden Club and Edmonds in Bloom, to discuss design ideas for the space. Councilmember Wilson, the father of two young children, pointed out that the preferred design didn’t include a play space for kids, something that he felt would be important to Edmonds families. He also pointed out he was certain that none of the committee members had younger-age children.
Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, the parent of an adult son, disagreed, stating that “I don’t believe that ever park should be child related,” suggesting instead that parents take their kids to one of the city parks nearby that have child-friendly activities.
“I like the idea of having a park for adults,” she said, adding that older people don’t always want to be around children.
Councilmember Steve Bernheim then noted that he wasn’t going to come out against the Old Milltown design because it didn’t have bike racks for his bicycle.
The exchange led Wilson to send a message later via Twitter: “Being the only Edmonds Council member with kids at home is a lonely road sometimes. You’d think there were no kids here based on comments.”
In the end, the Council decided to give citizens an opportunity to comment on the Old Milltown design proposals at the Aug. 15 meeting, and Hite said she hoped that common ground could be found for incorporating play opportunities into the space.
In other action, the Council:
– Discussed with Hite a range of ideas for turning a profit at the city’s parks, include charging a non-resident fee for recreation, instituting permits at the underwater dive park and allowing concession vendors and/or mobile food trucks. Councilmembers told Hite they would support further research by staff on a variety of revenue-generating ideas, with the goal of having something in place by the following summer.
– approved a Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program, which the council is required each year to update prior to approving the city budget. Wilson made a point of complimenting city staff on their successful efforts to acquire significant grant money to cover many of the city’s transportation projects.
– approved July 2011 budget amendments to cover unanticipated transfers and expenses. A complete list of budget amendments can be found here.