The City of Edmonds’ much-debated Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program was approved by the City Council 5-1 Tuesday night. The lone “no” vote (Council President Diane Buckshnis was absent) was cast by Councilmember Joan Bloom, who expressed concerns over the plan for the Sunset Avenue Walkway project.
That project, which has been the subject of ongoing citizen and council debate in recent months, was included in the six-year plan, which runs from 2015-2020, despite Bloom’s objections that the Sunset plan still involves development of land owned by the BNSF railroad. ” I am not the least bit interested in developing property that we don’t own,” she said.
Bloom had taken that same position the last time the council discussed the walkway — on April 2 — pointing to what she called the lack of public involvement and unresolved concerns about right of way issues. During that April 2 meeting, the council decided to take a breather on the project, and Mayor Dave Earling committed to work with city staff to come up with a revised plan that would be acceptable to the council.
The project as previously proposed would include a 10-foot-wide promenade on the west side of the street beginning at Bell Street on the south, running north along the bank above the railroad tracks, rounding the dogleg at Caspers Street, and finally meeting the existing sidewalk at Third and Caspers. The project design is being funded by a $159,000 federal grant; construction of the walkway is dependent on additional grant funding.
City of Edmonds Public Works Director Phil Williams said that he has some ideas for ways to address the issues about Sunset that have been discussed in past meetings, but noted that the city currently has no funding in place to implement such a project anyway.
One idea would be to create a temporary, more narrow (8 feet wide instead of 10 feet) multi-use pathway that would allow the city to test whether such a walkway would be useable before building a more permanent path, Williams said. Meanwhile, he said he would continue efforts to reach out to BNSF to talk about whether the railroad would be open to an expanded walkway on its property.
Councilmember Tom Mesaros note that approving the Transportation Improvement Plan does not mean the council is giving the green light to any formal recommendations on Sunset, but allows councilmembers to “move forward with something that is going to have to achieve council approval.”
State law requires the city to approve a Transportation Improvement Plan every year, but the council is also permitted to adjust the plan by majority vote at any time.
The council also:
— Heard a status report on implementation of the City’s Strategic Plan, which was approved by the council in April 2013 after a lengthy public involvement process. Consultant/facilitator Cynthia Berne, who was hired to prepare a road map for implementing the plan over time, noted that of the plan’s 86 items, four have been completed and 42 have been started. The goal is to ensure the plan “is not a document sitting on the shelf,” but something that can be put into action, Berne said.
– Received an update on the Downtown Edmonds Cultural Heritage Tour grant project, which will involve a downtown walking tour with artist-made interpretive markers and an associated website with additional historic information. The project goal is to promote and market cultural heritage tourism in downtown Edmonds. The artist selected for the project, Judith Caldwell, has completed design and fabrication of 12 unique plaques, each commemorating a site with information drawn from Edmonds history. The project will be dedicated on July 17, 2014.
– Learned more about the Perrinville Creek Stormwater Flow Reduction and Retrofit Study. A community meeting will be scheduled in August to provide citizens with additional details. More information is here.