A proposal to develop a city recreation program that also supports remote learning for school children moved closer to reality Tuesday night as the Edmonds City Council gave the green light to job descriptions for two new recreation leaders that would be hired to oversee the effort.
This council first heard about the proposal for LEAP (Learning Enhancement & Activity Program) during last week’s meeting. Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department Director Angie Feser provided a brief refresher of last week’s information while adding some additional details. The program would repurpose the city-owned Frances Anderson Center to support children entering second through sixth grade, housing in nine separate isolated classrooms or “pods.” It would operate Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m and would provide day camp activities while supporting Edmonds School District distance learning due to COVID-19.
Feser stressed that the program’s goal is to fill a community need, “to help our families who have to make a decision between going to work and supporting their children’s education. We are not substituting for a school. We are simply creating an environment to support these school-age children and their academic efforts while they are doing distance learning.”
Supplemental programming would come from the city’s environmental education and cultural arts divisions as well as community partners like Sno-King Youth Club. Weekly registration would be $300 or $345 for non-residents, with need-based full scholarships available for a minimum of 20% of the participants. Program capacity is 100 participants.
Feser also addressed a request last week from Councilmember Laura Johnson to explore expanding the number of needs-based scholarships beyond the 20% currently allocated for the program — or 20 students. After some preliminary research into possible alternative funding sources, the city is evaluating whether it can use current day care-eligible CARES funding for Edmonds families. In addition, staff has applied for the Verdant Health Emergency COVID Assistance program requesting funding to support five to 10 weekly full registration waivers through the end of this year. Another idea being considered is a local campaign soliciting donations through the parks department’s existing scholarship program.
Given the shortage of time before school starts, Feser asked the council to approve the two recreation leader job descriptions so the positions could be posted immediately. She promised to come back later with more details about funding for needs-based scholarships.
In addition to hiring the two recreation leaders, the city will need to employ 18 full-time equivalent and four part-time equivalent employees for the program. One quarter to a third of those staff can be current city employees who have been laid off or working significantly reduced hours due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In another matter Tuesday night, the council backed away from its decision last week to have the city council — rather than the council president — appoint a subcommittee to review a proposed new code of conduct. Councilmember Susan Paine, who had voted last week with Councilmembers Diane Buckshnis, Vivian Olson and Kristiana Johnson to follow that process, announced Tuesday night that she had changed her mind “after a lot of consideration.” The council voted 4-3 — with Paine this time joining Laura Johnson, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Luke Distelhorst in the majority to reconsider that vote.
The council will revisit in two weeks how exactly to go about appointing the subcommittee, as that matter wasn’t addressed Tuesday night.
In other business, the council:
– Listened as Council President Fraley-Monillas — filling in for Mayor Mike Nelson while he’s absent due to a family matter — read a proclamation declaring that September is suicide prevention month. That proclamation was followed by a presentation on suicide statistics and trends by the Snohomish Health District’s Wendy Burchill. Her presentation was the first of three events that the city — led by Councilmember Distelhorst — has created to address the issue of suicide prevention. The next one is Sept. 17, at 7 p.m., when Burchill will present a free, “Question, Persuade, Refer,” suicide prevention training via Zoom. This will also include a question-and-answer session on suicide prevention techniques. Then, on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m., the city will host an online panel discussion about mental health and suicide prevention. You can learn more about those events, and also find more resources on suicide prevention, at the city’s new webpage here.
– Heard the annual report from the Edmonds Tree Board and later in the meeting received an update from city staff about progress planned for rewriting the city’s tree code. Development Services Director Shane Hope said the hope is to have a draft tree code to the council for review by the end of the year. Among the topics and possible concepts that will be explored with the Edmonds Planning Board, starting next week:
- Tree retention during development — for example, exploring low-impact development principles that may provide more flexibility to retain trees, specific tree retentions standards during development, and providing incentives for tree retention.
- Establishing a tree fund into which development contributions or tree penalties can be tracked and the proceeds spent on tree planting and preservation.
- Reviewing penalties for illegal tree cutting.
- Moving the main tree regulations for private property into the Natural Resources title of the City’s development code.
- Reviewing the existing permitting structure and exemptions for tree removal on currently developed property
– After holding a public hearing, unanimously gave tentative approval to a proposed comprehensive plan amendment for the Haines Wharf site and adjacent properties that changes the designation from mixed use commercial to open space. The amendment will be approved as part of the entire city comprehensive plan at the end of the year. City staff said the change was necessary to ensure that the Haines Wharf designation was consistent with the recently updated Shoreline Master Program.
– Scheduled a public hearing for Oct. 6 regarding a proposed street vacation in Perrinville area — specifically the easterly portion of 184th Street Southwest between 80th Avenue West and Olympic View Drive. The change is being considered because the property owner is considering a future subdivision, city staff said.
— By Teresa Wippel