After hearing a detailed presentation on Windward Environmental’s baseline study of the Edmonds Marsh, the Edmonds City Council agreed it would be a good idea to coordinate those results with the work of another consultant, Shannon & Wilson, which has been working to on a predesign plan for daylighting Willow Creek, which runs through the marsh.
The council voted 5-2 to un-table a motion from its Aug. 20 meeting that would have authorized consultant Shannon & Wilson to present its report to the council. Councilmembers voting to table the motion last month said they wanted to wait until the Windward report was completed, to determine how to best coordinate the two sets of findings.
Tuesday’s vote was 5-2, with Councilmembers Diane Buckshnis and Neil Tibbott voting against.
Windward scientist Ron Gouguet told the council that the two consultants’ reports are “very complementary” to each other. Windward’s focus was on “what’s there now” — while Shannon and Wilson looked at “the hydrology changes to the system” that would occur with Willow Creek daylighting,” Gouguet said.
The council also agreed to continue a task force of both councilmembers and staff — and possibly citizens — to study the data Windward presented and recommend possible incremental steps the city can take to improve the health of the marsh. Among these are removal of invasive plants and installation of woody debris, which has a variety of environmental benefits.
Windward’s report Tuesday night was a slightly abbreviated version of what they presented to a group of about 50 citizens at a Monday night open house.
In another matter Tuesday, Councilmember Tom Mesaros reported on the latest steps in evaluating the work of contract city attorney Lighthouse Law Group.Mesaros — who is coordinating the evaluation process — said that he was able to reach two former city department directors — Carrie Hite and Mary Ann Hardie — who had not initially submitted feedback as part of the Lighthouse review. The two have since sent in their responses, he added.
Mesaros then raised an issue that has been a point of contention in recent council meeting discussions and also during the 2019 elections — the circumstances that caused Hardie to leave her position with the city in June of this year.
Mesaros said that during his conversation with Hardie, she asked him to convey “that she had heard a rumor that her departure from the city was based solely on the fact that she had gotten a job offer from the City of Lacey to transfer her work to that area.” Mesaros said Hardie reiterated that her job offer from Lacey came after she resigned from the City of Edmonds. “She was not looking at any other opportunities, and she really wanted to make that clear.”
Edmonds Mayor Dave announced during the May 21 council meeting that Hardie was submitting her resignation “with a heavy heart.” At the time, the mayor intimated Hardie’s resignation was due to the way she was treated by the council during a May 7 discussion about raises for city department heads.
That issue was also raised during a Sept. 29 My Edmonds News Facebook Live candidate interview with Buckshnis and Jenna Nand, who is challenging Buckshnis for the Position 4 council seat. Nand said it was known that both Hardie and Hite, now with the City of Redmond, had left the city due to the current climate between council and staff,. Buckshnis replied that “Mary Ann was looking in February for a job,” and instead said the two employees leaving “was blown out of proportion and has something to do with council’s fighting again and things of that nature.”
In other business, the council:
– Heard information from city staff about a proposal to update Edmonds’ street vacation code, prompted by a desire to streamline the process and also to align it with state law. The proposal, which has been reviewed by the Edmonds Planning Board, will be the subject of a public hearing at the council’s Oct. 15 meeting.
– Heard presentations on the Edmonds Historical Museum Annual Scarecrow Festival (registration now open) and the Edmonds Sister Cities Student Exchange Program, and a proclamation of National Arts & Humanities Month.
– Discussed State of Washington requirements for a promissory note and leasehold deed of trust from the city so that the Edmonds Senior Center can receive state grants for the new Waterfront Center, now under construction. No action was taken Tuesday on this item.
— By Teresa Wippel