Following more than 1,200 public votes and revisions based on public comments, a new playground is closer to reality for the Frances Anderson Center.
City Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite presented the recommended $150,000 structure, designed by Sequim-based AllPlay Systems, to the Edmonds City Council’s Parks, Planning and Public Works Committee meeting Tuesday night.
Hite said said that the staff recommendation was the result of a process that started with 13 bids, which were narrowed to five and then presented to the public for voting both online and in person at the Frances Anderson Center.
Vendors for the top two vote-getters were then asked to make small adjustments based on public feedback. Among them was the addition of a spinner with a back brace to accommodate children with disabilities and equalizing the size of play areas between the 2-5 and 6-12 age groups.
Of the two revised proposals, AllPlay Systems was the clear winner, Hite said.
The color scheme represented in the drawings is for design purposes and has yet to be finalized, she added.
The committee agreed to place the playground bid award on the March 20 council business meeting agenda for approval. Installation is set to be completed this spring.
The committee also reviewed a Citizens Edmonds Economic Development Commission (CEDC) recommendation to consider changing the required 15-foot ground floor height in the downtown BD1 zone to 12 feet for new buildings. The 12-foot height would allow builders to include three stories within the downtown’s existing 30-foot height limit, rather than the two stories currently accommodated with the 15-foot first-story limit.
The committee presentation by Economic Development and Community Services Director Patrick Doherty, who staffs the CEDC, was a followup to commission vice chair Mary Monroe’s report to the council in February. “Buildings, property owners aren’t as interested in investing in properties in that area because it just doesn’t pencil out,” Monroe told the council at the time.
The city’s requirement for the 12-foot limit was approved in 2007, Doherty said, and the commission feels that after 10 years “it’s infeasible for…most developers to do a project, add stories, develop a vacant lot with only two stories instead of three.”
The CEDC believes that “iinfill development” on underdeveloped or vacant lots in the BD1 district “would provide cultural, shopping and recreational opportunities within the city, new businesses would locate to downtown Edmonds, and there’d be an infusion of new revenue to the city budget,” Doherty said.
The next step is for the council to decide whether to move forward on considering the issue, by authorizing staff research that would be followed by city Planning Board review, public hearings and eventual final council consideration — a combination of work that is likely to take until the end of the year, Doherty said.
Committee chair Neil Tibbott, who serves as the council’s liaison to the CEDC, said he believes the full council should consider the idea of whether to move forward, and he also stressed it was important to ensure opportunities for public input.
Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, who doesn’t belong to the Parks, Planning and Public Works Committee, also stopped by the meeting to offer her opinion: Given the historic nature of the BD! zone, she would like any such proposal to go through the city’s Architectural Design Board to ensure it is appropriate for the area.
Along those lines, Council committee member Kristiana Johnson stated she would prefer that the city’s Historic Preservation Commission review the CEDC memo before the council considers whether to move forward with further work. Johnson said she would arrange to have that item on the Historic Preservation Commission agenda at its next meeting, April 14.
At the beginning of the business meeting, Council President Mike Nelson announced the formation of an opioid response task force that will include three councilmembers — himself plus Councilmembers Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Kristiana Johnson — and Snohomish County Health District Administrator Jeff Ketchell.
— By Teresa Wippel