With 23 people appearing in person to testify and close to a hundred more submitting opinions via emails and letter (not to mention 150 votes in our My Edmonds News poll), the Edmonds City Council received a good cross section of opinions on the proposed Five Corners roundabout. In the end, councilmembers voted 5-2 Tuesday night to continue the design process for the project, although the city needs to find grant money to actually build it.
The proposal before the council Tuesday was whether to retain the project at 212th Street Southwest and 84th Avenue West — along with a proposed stoplight for 9th Avenue North and North Caspers Street– as part of the city’s 2012-2017 City’s Comprehensive Plan and Capital Improvement Program and Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program.
The City Council voted unanimously last July to authorize the mayor and city staff to sign a consultant agreement to begin the planning process for the roundabout, but some councilmembers and citizens began expressing concerns about the project in light of current city budget challenges. The city received a federal grant for $463,000 to fund final design and right-of-way acquisition; with a required 13.5 percent local match set to be paid for through the city’s Street Fund. According to Edmonds Public Works Director Phil Williams, the city is continuing to pursue grant money for the construction phase.
Tuesday night’s public hearing was billed as an opportunity for citizens to have their say, and the large turnout transformed the usually sparse meeting attendance into a standing-room-only crowd. After listening to Williams tick off the reasons why the roundabout is a good idea — from decreasing traffic congestion, motor vehicle accidents and air pollution, to increasing the likelihood of future business development in the Five Corners neighborhood — nearly two dozen Edmonds residents chose to offer their thoughts.
They ranged from Lila McDonald, a roundabout opponent who has lived in the Five Corners area for 55 years, and “in all that time I have never seen an accident or a near accident,” to local environmental advocate Laura Spehar, who called the roundabout “a chance for Edmonds to be a smart growth leader in Snohomish County.”
Councilmember Michael Plunkett, who also lives in Five Corners, voted against the motion to retain the roundabout in the plan, along with Councilmember Lora Petso. Plunkett also tried to remove the 9th and Caspers project from the city’s list, but that motion also failed on a 5-2 vote. (Joining Plunkett on the “no” side was Councilmember Steve Bernheim.) Williams pointed out that removing the 9th and Caspers project would essentially have no effect, as that particular intersection currently has no traffic problems so there is no immediate plan to install a signal (although it’s anticipated that congestion may occur in the future).
In other action, the Council:
– After tweaking some language, approved a proposed legislative agenda and a professional services agreement with city lobbyist Mike Doubleday.
– Identified the cohort of cities that Edmonds would be compared with in a salary and benefits study for non-represented employees.
– Approved a request that the City of Edmonds support the Transportation Partnership, a coalition of business, labor, local government and environmental representatives from around Washington state who are advocating that the state Legislature develop a comprehensive solution to the state’s transportation challenges.
– Agreed to extend the sunset date for the 17-member Citizens Economic Development Commission, which was set to expire at the end of December, for an additional 120 days. After expressing some concerns about both the effectiveness and mission of the commission, councilmembers agreed they would take up the future of the group during their council retreat, traditionally scheduled shortly after the first of the year.
– Recognized the accomplishments and contributions of outgoing City Councilmembers Steve Bernheim and DJ Wilson.