Despite Sunset walkway concern, council approves Edmonds’ Transportation Improvement Plan

Former City Economic Development Director Stephen Clifton was present at Tuesday's Edmonds City Council meeting to receive congratulations from Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling on the city's award for its Strategic Plan. The award was presented to Earling last week by the Association for Washington Cities.

Former City Economic Development Director Stephen Clifton was present at Tuesday’s Edmonds City Council meeting to receive congratulations from Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling on the city’s award for its Strategic Plan. The award was presented to Earling last week by the Association for Washington Cities. Clifton  — who now works for Snohomish County — oversaw the plan’s development while on the city’s staff.

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.

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9 Comments

  1. As I stated on April 2, 2014, I think the statement “The project design is being funded by a $159,000 federal grant . . .” is incomplete.

    The project obtained its original funding of $16,000 via the November 15, 2011 budget amendment. Traffic Calming Money was moved to Sunset Avenue.

    The next $50,000 for the project was approved in late 2011 as part of the 2012 budget.

    During April of 2012, the City applied for at least two grants that I am aware of, one from the RCO and one from FHWA/CMAQ. The RCO attempt was unsuccessful, but the FHWA/CMAQ effort was rewarded roughly 10 months later, during February of 2013, with the $159,000 Federal Grant.

    Then, on August 26, 2013, The City submitted the PSRC grant application, resulting in another Grant of $90,903.

    I think this is accurate, and the four pieces total to $315,903, $249,903 from 2 separate grants.

    I have never been able to figure out where the money came from to pay for the plan elements discussed way back during the July 19, 2011 meeting. Please recall that, before the project was added to the TIP, a former City Council Member stated that there had been a lot of staff work done on the Sunset Avenue project.

    I am also curious what it means for a new addition to the TIP to be Financially Constrained for three years after it is initially added to the TIP. A budget amendment was done before the Sunset Avenue Walkway had been on the TIP for even 4 months. Then $50,000 was budgeted for the project in late 2011 as part of the 2012 budget. How does this relate to the three year “Financially Constrained” requirement?

  2. As I have stated many times before, it is AGAINST FEDERAL LAW and other laws for that matter to not be honest on Federal Grant Forms. The Justice Department of the United States and the FEDS do NOT allow gray area baloney presented……They see LAWS in black and white…..You either FOLLOW THE RULE OF LAW or you break the LAW……no gray areas.

    LAWS are not made to be broken. …………….

    • Tere,

      i learned – decades ago . . .

      what matters is what is enforced, regardless of what any legislature put down in the law books

      congress regularly “breaks the law” by just not allotting the money for enforcement

  3. I agree with the above. Enough is enough. It seems the Council’s main concern is downtown Edmonds when we have so many problems in the city overall.

  4. Put Sunset “improvements” on the ballot…Let the Edmonds taxpayer have their say…

  5. Congress doesn’t break the laws, PEOPLE break the laws. …….and at some point, these law-breaking people are held accountable…….We ARE the government……..The government works for US, not the other way around……….What matters most is that we are a nation of LAWS ,………….Is there some corruption?! Yes!…..do we have to go along?!……..I say NO!…..those that become corrupt will be held accountable. …….You know that thing……WE THE PEOPLE………

  6. A Proof-of-Concept Proposal for the Sunset Avenue Sidewalk Project was discussed during the August 12th PPP Committee Meeting. The related minutes indicate:

    Mr. Williams explained the intent would be to paint the recommended geometry and use it for a year to gain experience and allow it to be evaluated. He distributed and reviewed 11×14 drawings of the Temporary Trail and New Striping Plan and responded to committee members’ questions. Committee member suggestions included:

    • Provide an aerial photograph of the current condition
    • Overlay the temporary trail and striping plan on an aerial photograph and identify the streets
    • Provide Councilmembers a large drawing

    Does anybody know if the City Council requested staff to develop a Proof-of-Concept/ Demonstration Project Proposal? I am trying to figure out how this was initiated and who approved payment for the related plan. Is the City Council being asked to authorize the Mayor to implement a Demonstration Project on Sunset Avenue when the Council never requested such in the first place? Or did I just miss that Council request?

    An action item has been scheduled for full Council this coming Tuesday, August 19th but it apparently is not a public hearing.

    The Temporary Trail and new striping plan can be viewed on the City’s website. I’ve reviewed it and am having a hard time seeing exactly where the BNSF property line is. It looks like various parts of the existing street may be on BNSF property. Does the City already have title issues with BNSF related to the existing street, utility infrastructure, etc.?

    It looks like parallel parking spots will be changed up move them roughly 10 feet to the east. Also, the nice parallel parking spots north on Sunset by the picnic table and benches seem to be eliminated.

  7. Following is a link to the Temporary Trail and new striping plan:

    http://agenda.ci.edmonds.wa.us/docs/2014/CCOUNCIL/20140819_1000/7065_2014-08-04%20Temporary%20Trail%20New%20Striping%20SHEETS%201-6%20%282%29.pdf

  8. It is interesting that no one implementing this has said ANYTHING in regards to WHAT Burlington Northern Railroad has said about this……

    Does Mr. Williams believe that we really think NOBODY in our government/staff has talked to Burlington Northern when in fact, they own a large part of the property, and this was not stated on the FEDERAL GRANT form?! The citizens of Edmonds did not just fall off of the turnip truck. There is something WRONG with this picture. from what I see……Not mentioning on the FEDERAL GRANT form that we don’t actually OWN a part of the property we wish to DEVELOP is not being honest and against FEDERAL LAW. I believe the citizens deserve to be told (remember the you work for us!) all of the information regarding this. WHO has spoken with Burlington Northern……??? and WHAT was said?

    A NON TRANSPARENT/SILENT government can not be trusted. What are the answers to these important questions?! The citizens have a right to know the answers

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