Council begins planning for marsh study, hears Economic Development Commission report

The Edmonds Marsh (Photo by Eric Sonett)

The Edmonds City Council Tuesday night began hashing out the details of the scientific study aimed at establishing 2017 baseline ecological conditions at the Edmonds Marsh watershed.

The council agreed to fund and conduct a baseline study in conjunction with its approval of  Option M, which addresses the appropriate buffer for the Edmonds Marsh as part of the city’s draft Shoreline Master Program (SMP). Option M calls for a 110-foot fixed marsh buffer and a 15-foot setback. According to the proposed language, any possible alternate buffer width would be derived from a scientific site-specific study, and would be subjected to a shoreline conditional use permitting process.

One of the issues discussed Tuesday night was who would draft the request for proposal (RFP) to solicit consultants interested in doing the baseline study. After much discussion, it was agreed that Development Services Director Shane Hope would do a first draft, that will be presented to the council in two weeks for their review and approval.

Jamie Reece

In other business, the council received an annual report from the Edmonds Citizen’s Economic Development Commission (EDC). Chairman Jamie Reece told coucilmembers that the first year was a productive one for the restructured nine-member commission, which last year replaced a larger 17-member body. He reminded the council of the commission’s mission: to advise and make recommendations to the mayor, city council and other stakeholders regarding initiatives intended to generate economic development and provide more stable municipal revenues.

To that end, the EDC — following multiple levels of discussion using subcommittees and committees — developed recommendations and communicated those to the council. Among the issues addressed from an economic development perspective in the past year were Civic Field, downtown parking and signage, Highway 99 and Five Corners. Possible future projects include finding ways to stabilize the city’s recent revenue gains long term, looking at the possibility of a new hotel in the hospital district, and examining how walkability influences the community’s economic development.

Reece said that feedback from the council and citizens is critical to the EDC’s mission, and that anyone interested is encouraged to attend the commission’s monthly meetings, held on the third Wednesday. The next one is April 19, 6 p.m. in City Hall’s 3rd floor Brackett Room.

Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas suggested the commission reach out to communities of color as well as those of varying socioeconomic circumstances, including those living along the Highway 99 corridor. Council President Tom Mesaros and Councilmember Kristiana Johnson recommended engaging business owners along Highway 99’s International District for ideas and feedback on the commission’s efforts.

Reece said he appreciated those suggestions and would bring them back to the commission for further discussion.

The council also agreed to put on next week’s consent agenda several items, including:

– Amendments to clarify the Tree Board appointment process.

– Reappointment of two boardmembers — Kevin McKay and Larry Ehl — to the Public Facilities District board for additional three-year terms.

– A report on construction bids received for the 2017 Sewer Line Replacement Project.

– An interlocal agreement with the financially struggling Snohomish County Health District to release ownership interest in the Health District’s Rucker Building, which is now for sale.

– Authorization to contract with James G. Murphy to sell surplus city vehicles and surplus city equipment.

A discussion regarding an update to the city’s contracting and purchasing policies included councilmember questions regarding a proposal to adjust the apprentice requirements on public works projects and increase the dollar limits on when projects must be bid competitively. Fraley-Monillas said she opposed the more stringent requirements because they lessen the opportunity for apprenticeships that provide living wage jobs. Public Works Director Phil Williams explained that it was difficult for smaller companies, which may only have a few employees, to also hire an apprentice and suggested that having the requirement apply to larger jobs was more practical. Councilmember Neil Tibbott suggested that the city may want to look into doing smaller construction jobs in-house, rather than hiring consultants, so that the city could start its own apprenticeship program.

For now, the council agreed to separate the contracting and purchasing policies involving compliance with federal code and move that to the consent agenda The policies item involving apprenticeships will be placed on the regular agenda to be discussed and voted on separately.

Two scheduled items from Tuesday night were deferred to a later date: Mayor Dave Earling’s appointments to the city’s newly-created salary commission and a two-year extension for a wastewater treatment, disposal and transport contract between the cities of Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace, and the Olympic View and Ronald water and sewer districts.

At the end of the meeting, two councilmembers offered comments regarding the swastikas painted on vehicles and homes in Edmonds and unincorporated Esperance overnight April 16. Councilmember Dave Teitzel said he would “strongly encourage our police department to investigate this thoroughly and if they catch the perpetrators; it’s my hope that they are prosecuted not as vandals but as perpetrators of a hate crime.”
Councilmember Mike Nelson said that the incident was “an attack on our community. A  swastika only serves one purpose: to instill fear and incite hatred, a symbol representing a horrific time in our world’s history, including the annihilation of 6 million Jewish people.”
“We need to double down on our compassion and love of one another, sending a clear message that Edmonds is a loving community,” Nelson added, “because the times we live in demand it.”
— By Teresa Wippel



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