‘Defining moment’ for Edmonds Economic Development Commission, chair tells council

588
3

Reports on the Edmonds Citizens Economic Development Commission (EDC) and the City’s Critical Area Regulations took up a majority of the time at Tuesday night’s Edmonds City Council work session. The council also agreed to put an item on next week’s consent agenda that will make Columbus Day a holiday when it comes to parking enforcement in Edmonds.

Economic Development Commission Chair Mike Schindler told the council it is “a defining moment” for the 17-member commission, founded in 2009. Some councilmembers have said they would like to see the EDC sunset as planned on Dec. 31, 2015, while others have indicated they believe the group — with members appointed by both city councilmembers and the mayor — provides a valuable function. Councilmember Lora Petso, who currently serves as the council liaison to the EDC, had suggested that it may make sense to break up the commission into smaller groups, each with a specific focus. Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas said she was concerned about the relative level of staffing support (three people) provided to the commission given the fact the city has 35 boards and commissions. (In the past, concerns have been raised about inequitable staffing of city boards and commissions.)

The EDC’s purpose is to address specific issues related to economic development. Soon after it was formed, the commission recommended, and the City Council approved, development of a citywide strategic plan, which has been guiding city work.

Schindler, who has served as chair since the beginning of 2015, said the volunteer commissioners also serve “as ambassadors between citizens and elected officials.” Overall, the commission “believes that it should continue as it is,” Schindler added.

After Schindler’s report, six commission members chosen to represent the group sat at the table with councilmembers and offered their opinion on the commission’s future. Among their ideas: that there should be better collaboration between those on the commission and the council, and that the commission draws strength from its large membership and would be less effective if broken up into smaller groups.

No decision was made on next steps, although Fraley-Monillas reiterated the need to address whether the council should let the commission sunset.

The council also:

– Added to the consent agenda for next week’s business meeting a measure amending the City Code to add Columbus Day as a holiday for parking enforcement; a report on final construction costs for the Annual Sewer replacement project; an agreement with Quiet Zone Technologies for the Wayside Horn project aimed at reducing train horn noise along the waterfront; and an agreement to settle a homeowner’s stormwater drainage complaint.
– Heard a Public Works Quarterly Project Report from Director Phil Williams. During the report, Williams answered councilmember questions regarding the City Park spray pad (Williams is hopeful it will open before the weather gets cold), and the City Fishing Pier, which is currently being renovated. Councilmember Lora Petso asked whether there was a plan to replace tires currently being used underwater at the pier; Williams said there was not, but would look into the feasibility of such a project. Fraley-Monillas suggested that Williams first check in with the Department of Ecology about the practice, especially since there are tires already in use along the waterfront, including at the Edmonds ferry terminal and at the underwater dive park.
– Listened to an hour-long presentation on Edmonds Planning Board recommendations related to the city’s Critical Area Regulations. The State Growth Management Act requires jurisdictions to review, evaluate and, if necessary, revise their critical areas ordinances according to an update schedule. The update of City of Edmonds critical area regulations, commonly referred to as the “critical areas ordinance” is due in 2015. Next steps for the process include further discussion at the Sept. 22 council work session and a public hearing on Oct. 6.

Editor’s note: My Edmonds News Publisher Teresa Wippel is a member of the Citizens Economic Development Commission.

3 COMMENTS

  1. It was interesting to watch the EDC work session last night, from both the volunteer and council perspective. I believe a good compromise would be for the EDC to continue its existence, but function more as a project task force, focusing on specific areas of the city. Each task force could still meet together to compare and contrast notes and findings.

    Perrinville, for example, could be a specific focus area, which could include having neighborhood meetings comprised of a couple of council members and a few of the EDC members along with business owners and residents of the area. The council members in attendance could report out to the full council/audience at future meetings about it. Those meetings could also result in only having one city staff member in attendance, cutting down the need for three.

    As economic development has been mentioned as a significant issue several times over, by current council members and council candidates alike, sunseting the EDC seems to go against that argument. The citywide strategic plan is a great accomplishment, but should by no means be seen as the end of the EDC’s value and purpose.

  2. Ms. Crank, thanks so much for your input. As the EDC stands presently, we are able to function as a project task force when needed – (and at the council’s direction) and often do tackle such issues in the subgroups then bring those to the commission as a whole for a more global perspective. The EDC is able to look at issues and dissect issues at both a tactical and strategic lens based on its present structure. One area the commission is looking to improve through more frequent communication with the council is a clearer direction on what issues are important to the council – just not the citizenry.

    As you mention, the SAP is a great accomplishment and the city’s road map – we do invest time on this, but it certainly is just one of several important items the commissioners invest their wisdom and effort on.

    One final note: the public is always welcome to sit in on the EDC meetings – the third WED from 6 – 8pm – and you are welcome to provide public comment at the end of the meetings.

    • Thank you, Mr. Schindler. I’m wondering if the joint meetings with council members in the subgroups would help facilitate clearer direction from them, so they can hear the same things you are. See you at a future meeting.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here