An Edmonds City Council discussion and possible revote on whether to exclude offices from ground floor retail spaces in the core business zones downtown was pulled from the agenda Tuesday night and rescheduled for next week. Council President Strom Peterson told the audience that the last-minute change was due to the absence of Councilmember Michael Plunkett. Since the council had initially voted 3-2 to on Aug. 23 to defeat the measure — when two councilmembers were absent — Peterson said he would prefer that the full council is present for any possible revote.
The idea behind the proposal is that retail businesses generate more foot traffic for the entire downtown business core than non-retail office space, such as a bank or law firm, and as such that core area (see map) should be limited to retail only. Three citizens testified during the public comment period — and some councilmembers agreed — that the council should hold a public hearing before taking a vote on the measure.
Mayor Mike Cooper was out of town attending a conference so was not present for the meeting, but his controversial firing last week of Human Resources Director Debi Humann was in the spotlight a couple of times during the evening. First, former Councilmember Ron Wambolt asked the council during the public comment period to verify whether the rumor was true that Cooper had offered Humann a $50,000 severance package. Later, Peterson asked the public to respect the mayor’s right to make his own decisions regarding staff employment, and to not ask councilmembers about the details because the council isn’t able to discuss personnel matters.
In other action, the council :
– Watched the presentation of three Emeritus awards to retiring members of the Edmonds Police Foundation. The Emeritus recognition is given to those who retire after providing substantial leadership contribution to the foundation, programs and events. The foundation was created in 1996 as a community-based organization to assist the Edmonds Police Department through education, fund-raising, and citizen involvement, and it sponsors the annual Edmonds Night Out family safety event.
– Received an update on Capital Facilities Plan and Capital Improvement Program for 2012-17, including a status report on various roads, facilities and parks projects of interest that will be the subject of a public hearing next week. Among the future projects discussed were a public market facility for the downtown waterfront and potential development — in partnership with the Edmonds School District and the Snohomish County Commission on Health — a new athletic complex on the former Woodway High School site. Two of the councilmembers — Steve Bernheim and DJ Wilson — said they were concerned about the lengthy “wish list” nature of the projects, and urged the council to exercise caution in approving ideas that aren’t absolutely necessary in this anemic economy. In fact, both councilmembers said that due to what they perceive as a change of heart from citizens, they would be interested in revisiting the idea of building a roundabout at Five Corners even though the council had voted unanimously last July to authorize the mayor to sign a consultant agreement to begin designing the project.
And speaking of construction projects, Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas asked for a status report on the Haines Wharf Park project and the review of former Mayor Gary Haakenson’s role in approving change orders for the project without council approval. Peterson told Fraley-Monillas that Bernheim is preparing a report on the issue, and that it will be presented to the council on Oct. 18.
– After an update from the South Snohomish County Commission for Health, unanimously approved two agreements with the commission aimed at fighting childhood obesity: To provide swim lessons to all third-grade students who live or go the school in the Edmonds School District and to offer a summer intensive health and cross-training fitness camp to area teenagers. The swim proposal involves the cities of Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace in addition to Edmonds, so third graders in the other cities will receive lessons right away because the municipalities have indoor pools. Edmonds-area students will receive their lessons at outdoor Yost pool next summer. The XFit Camp program will provide cooking classes and nutrition education in addition to exercise programs in an effort to help young people establish healthier habits.