More discussion on Civic Field, use of American Rescue Plan funds on July 13 council agenda

The Edmonds City Council at its Tuesday, July 13, business meeting is scheduled to further discuss the planned redevelopment of Edmonds Civic Field — a topic that generated much debate last week. The council is also set to review a proposal by Mayor Mike Nelson for using nearly $11.9 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds being allocated to Edmonds.

The city has been working since 2017 to find ways to fund the Civic Field project — estimated in 2017 to cost $12.1 million. But now, with challenges related to site design and increasing construction costs, the project faces an even higher price tag of between $13.5 million and $15 million.

During the July 13 meeting, the council will consider whether to award a construction contract to the low bidder — A-1 Landscaping and Construction — and approve the additional funding necessary via two other construction contracts to build the park. In addition to the base bid, the council will consider four bid alternates, each with an additional price tag. They include an interactive water feature at the park entrance, a scramble/climbing wall, a proposal to rubberize the current asphalt perimeter path and the addition of metal tree grates.

Last week, Councilmembers Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Laura Johnson questioned whether the city should move forward at all with the downtown project, given its increasing cost — especially in light of the fact that there are pockets of the city — such as Edmonds’ Highway 99 neighborhood — that have very few parks nearby.

Regarding how to use the federal COVID-19 recovery money approved by Congress earlier this year, Mayor Nelson has proposed creating five programs — named the Edmonds Rescue Plan Fund — that would benefit from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) total allocation of $11,893,099:

Household support: $4,150,000. This would include up to $3 million in grants to households earning no more than 40% of Edmonds median income for housing expenses, food, medical bills, child care, internet access and other household expenses. Up to 400 households may receive grants of up to $2,500 in 2021 and 2022, with up to 200 households receiving grants of up to $2,500 in 2023 and 2024. In addition, there would $150,000 allocated for utility bill support, with one-time grants of up to $1,000 for 150 households to help defray expenses derived from outstanding City of Edmonds utilities bills. Finally, up to $1 million (200 grants at $5,000 each or less) would be allocated for one-time grants for housing repair, especially focused on energy-saving measures such as roof repair, window replacement and HVAC repair/replacement.

Business support: $1,125,000. This would include up to $200,000 in installments of $50,000 per year in 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024 for general support of Edmonds small businesses, business districts and the overall business community. There would also be $300,000 allocated to tourism promotion in installments of $75,000 per year in 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024 for support of tourism promotion. And up to $625,000 in direct grants would be provided to small businesses most affected by the COVID-19-related economic recession. Grants will take the form of individual financial support grants (in the form of loans that are forgivable after four months of performance), with awards of 50 grants at $10,000 each in 2021 and 25 grants of $5,000 or less  in 2022. The focus will be given to businesses with up to 30 employees, those having lost at least 50% in revenue from the pandemic and having not received more than $5,000 in other government support, as well as on businesses outside of downtown Edmonds and owned by people of color, women, veterans and other minorities.

Nonprofit support: $500,000 would be allocated to assist Edmonds nonprofit organizations that have suffered substantial financial losses due to prolonged closures, cut-backs or loss of business.

Job retraining: $600,000 to provide financial aid to working adults who seek skills training, certifications, completion of degrees or other skills enhancement at local community colleges serving Edmonds residents in the form of grants of up to $5000 per year per student to cover tuition, fees, supplies and life expenses during the period of study.

Green infrastructure: Up to $4,768,099 allocated to reimburse city capital expenditures through 2026 associated with green infrastructure projects intended to enhance the quality of stormwater entering Puget Sound, according to American Rescue Plan Act guidelines. These projects include Edmonds Marsh water quality and flood control, lower Perrinville Creek realignment for flood control and water quality, and green streets and rain gardens. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a green street is a stormwater management approach that incorporates vegetation (perennials, shrubs, trees), soil, and engineered systems (for example, permeable pavements) to slow, filter, and cleanse stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces.

Under Nelson’s proposal, the city will also create an account of $750,000 from the federal funds to reimburse city expenditures associated with responding to the COVID-19 health emergency.

“COVID has had a huge impact on many residents and businesses in our community that will not be fixed overnight,” Nelson said in a Friday press release announncing his proposal. “It is crucial we help those most in need to assist in getting them up and running again. I am eager to put forward my ARPA proposals to city council.”

Prior to the 7 p.m. business meeting, the council is scheduled to hold its usual three committee meetings (no public comment taken), starting consecutively at 4, 5 and 6 p.m. The agendas are as follows:

4 p.m. Parks and Public Works Committee 

-Taste Edmonds & Oktoberfest Event Contracts

-Report on bids for Phase 2 Stormwater Replacement Project

-Presentation of a 128-square-foot dedication of property at the northwest corner of 4th Avenue North and Daley Street

-Presentation of Stormwater Management Code

5 p.m. Planning, Public Safety and Personnel Committee

– Proposals for various changes in Edmonds Municpal Court staffing

– A proposal to streamlilne how special events are permitted in the city.

6 p.m. Finance Committee

– May 2021 monthly financial report

– Discussion of city financing needs, including possible issuance of additional bonds.

All meetings are held virtually using the Zoom meeting platform. To join, comment, view or listen to the Edmonds City Council meeting in its entirety, paste the following into a web browser using a computer or smart phone: Or join by phone: US: +1 253 215 8782 Webinar ID: 957 9848 4261

Those wishing to provide audience comments using a computer or smart phone during the 7 p.m. council meeting are instructed to raise a virtual hand to be recognized. Persons who want to provide audience comments by dial-up phone are instructed to press *9 to raise a hand. When prompted, press *6 to unmute.

In addition to Zoom, regular council meetings beginning at 7 p.m. are streamed live on the Council Meeting webpage, Comcast channel 21, and Ziply channel 39.

  1. Will the rubber path be crumb rubber? If yes then add a lot more money and time like last time.

    1. Sam, people are actually against recycling tires. I’m floored. The science even categorically disproves the crumb rubber cancer myths. It sort of takes me back to the people who opposed GMO foods on the ground that they are genetically modified, who seem to be first in line for a vaccine that works via genetic modification. I’d rather eat a potato. What’s the difference between Monsanto and Pfizer exactly?

    2. Sam,
      The plan is for a solid rubber path much like what you’d see in a playground with the rubber safety landing mats.

      1. Susan, where in the packet for council does it say that? I read the whole packet and didn’t see it specified, only that there is a plan for rubber tracking. Is there more documents about this that aren’t in the council pack?

      2. Susan, it says in the pack on page 16 that they will use recycled rubber. How do you know this isn’t crumb rubber? I can’t find that detail anywhere.

        1. Hi Sam,

          Sorry for the delayed reply. It was likely through personal communication with Director Feser. Degradation of solid matting won’t get into the soil substrate like crumb rubber does, and with regular care and intermittent replacement there will be less harm to the environment.

        2. Uh Oh. We’ve all been loking for a reason to not finish Civil Field. If Equity fails to stop the project, hopefully crumb rubber does. Am I right?

  2. Hasn’t City Council already established the official position of the City of Edmonds for Civic Park?

    Hasn’t City Council established that position to the point that the 2021 Budget included an expenditure budget of $6,030,315 for 2021? The 2021 Approved Budget represents that Construction is BUDGETED to begin in second quarter 2021 and last approximately 16 months.

    Do the actions of Councilmembers Adrienne Fraley Monillas and Laura Johnson casting doubt on this project show a lack of respect for an extremely complex, lengthy and detailed process?

    On November 3, 2016, Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas signed a letter that stated:

    “It is unfortunate that in the current climate of partisan politics that your office had to be part of the lack of respect for this extremely complex, lengthy, and detailed process.”

    The letter was to the Director of the WA State Department of Ecology.

    I sensed a somewhat similar lack of respect for an extremely complex, lengthy, and detailed process during last week’s Council meeting. Last week’s agenda item was to approve a construction contract for the low bidder. The agenda item was not to discuss how this project would affect the purchase of other properties. Wasn’t that considered long ago? When Civic Field was acquired, it had been present in the PROS Plan for 25 years and had been a high priority for the City for a long time.

    Councilmember Fraley-Monillas also chose to point out that past votes on this project were not unanimous. Why would that matter? Did any of City Council’s votes to move forward with construction of Civic Park require a unanimous vote?

    What do others think?

    Decision Package 82 for the 2021 Approved Budget stated the following Justification for the budgeted funds for Civic Park construction:

    This is a multi-year design, land acquisition, fund development and construction project that is a very high priority in the PROS plan. With $3.47M in grant funding to support the effort. The Master Plan process was robust with extensive community input. The design is complete, permits are approved and the project is ready to enter the construction phase.

    1. Ken, you’re correct, as usual. The Civic Park project has been in the works for years. Literally thousands of hours invested by staff, consultants, and the people of the City of Edmonds. We’re at the end of the game. A successful bidder has been identified, and we’re within days of breaking ground.

      And NOW a couple of councilmembers suddenly have cold feet? Where were they at all the earlier decision points? Why wait until the final minutes and then pull the plug? That would be the height of irresponsibility and a sign of civic dysfunction that Edmonds doesn’t need. Council should approve the required contracts and move this project forward. The people of Edmonds deserve no less from our elected officials.

    2. Probably similar to the official position the City originally took on the Chief of Police. None the less, we ended up with a great Chief, hopefully we will end up with a great Civic Firld without all of the needless drama…

      1. We don’t have a new Chief of Police yet.

        On June 20th – My Edmonds News reported:

        Mayor Nelson has told My Edmonds News that the new search has produced five top candidates. Nelson said he expects to announce three finalists within a few weeks.

        I hope the announcement of three finalists will be made soon.

  3. If there was an objection based on neighborhood equity, that should have been brought up at the beginning, not the end. L.J. might have an excuse not being elected then, but AFM has no excuse. Obvious move is to build it without frills and move on. Important stuff like tree violations must be attended to.

    1. Clint,

      I couldn’t agree more. More rhetoric from AFM. it simply shows her inability to accept that council voted, the budget was approved, and the park is moving forward. I believe the City did purchase property to access the 99 or so acre Lake Ballinger regional park.

      Move forward with the Civic Field project, ignore the politically convenient speech during an election cycle, and do what is both equitable and fair for all of the citizens of Edmonds.

      Council should be celebrating that they are moving forward with a project that had years of studies, public involvement, review, debate and finally approval. Instead, their decision is being hijacked by rhetoric that is unfounded in fact.

  4. Laura Johnsons observations were spot on. Civic Firld isn’t mutually exclusive. It was good to hear her support for BOTH Civic Field and for commitment to develop City resources in other areas outside of the bowl. It will be nice to see what proposals there are for all of the communities. It will also be interesting to see what the Highway 99 improvements do to increase safety and access to all of the City (if not already planned in the improvements) It’s reasonable to ask for upgrades, it’s also reasonable to ask for allocation of funds.

    I am glad that Council moved forward, and Council member Lsura Johnson eloquently explained her position., highlighted issues, and asked for help in finding solutions for other areas within the City.

  5. Still no updates on what the hospital district is doing with the $58million in the bank or what they will do with value village or why they are still collecting taxes. The council used to have the directors of verdant come to a council meeting to talk about what was going on. Maybe they could do this again. Maybe some of the $58million could support nonprofits and the COVID19 money for Edmonds could be used on something else.

  6. Kudos to L.J. on this one. It’s just as important to compliment people when you think they did the right thing as it is to call out people when you think they did the wrong thing. In the same vein, but different topic, kudos to M.N. for doing that town hall on hate and letting people who have thoughts about it have a forum. I don’t care why he did it, I just think it’s good for the community that he did it. More neighborhood town halls and forums need to happen around here where all things Edmonds can be discussed openly and honestly by the people directly affected by political decision makers we elect to do our community business.

    1. My only real issue with the LJ comments were showing us where these improvements that were missing from Lake Ballinger had been requested and declined (the Porta potty or more permanent improvements) and available space in Lake Ballinger for additional parks. Both would be good to know so we can see if the Mayor and staff are making it a priority.

      Again, the town forum on Hate was a good dialog, but the statistics quoted ate a little tough. It dies point out racism that we need to battle locally, but it also shows the importance of clarifying statistics. The FBI Hate Crime Statistics are voluntary. Washington, California, and New York cover virtually 100% of their population and policing agencies. Alabama and Arkansas (the lowest number of Hate Crimes) report very small percentages of their crimes. If we use the same logic, Alabama apparently has a very effective management of hate crimes.

      This is not downplaying the importance of transparency locally (in the Edmonds Jurisdictions for 2019 there were zero crimes reported) but it does show the importance of making sure that you accurately reflect what is being reported. To say that we rank in the top 3 is somewhat misleading. Even the FBI website says not to use the data for comparing. Again, not downplaying that racism and bias and sexism and ageism do not exist, just the importance of the fine print.

  7. What an excellent factual and objective comment Ken. Thank you very much for all of the detailed background on this.

    It sounds like AFM and Laura Johnson are just forcing a delay in this project for disingenuous virtue signaling. There is certainly no reason why people of color would not be able to use the new updated Civics Field, and for them to say so is frankly racist in and of itself. In addition, there have been multiple parks that have been revitalized near highway 99 recently including Esperance Park and South Lynwood Park.

    You are not going to get the land for a park the size of Civics Field along highway 99 unless you displace a significant number of businesses and/or homes of the people living their for their ‘benefit.’ The truth really is that AFM is doing this stunt for the benefit of no one but herself in a vain attempt to show something of value for her fledgling and disgraced campaign.

    1. Thanks Evan,

      I am thankful Councilmembers Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Laura Johnson were unable to further delay or possible halt construction of Civic Park.

      One thing to add to the conversation is the impact of Esperance on the City’s ability to own park land near the Highway 99 Corridor. Esperance is an enclave within our city limits that totals 0.7 square miles. An internet search indicates population is 3,601.

      Great point about displacement. A review of the City’s zoning map indicates the City of Edmonds would have to purchase land zoned Commercial or Residential to build a park or parks near the Highway 99 Corridor. I believe the Commercial Property along Highway 99 is very efficient in producing tax revenues for the City. The Residential Property in that vicinity benefits from proximity to public transportation. Furthermore, any purchase of Residential Property for parks or open space may have a negative impact on Affordable Housing.

      These are all complicated issues. I do not envy the challenges our City Councilmembers face. At the same time, I do not think City Council’s challenges are helped by a Councilmember making a seven-minute comment during a Council Meeting that is not specific to the item on the agenda. Why did Mayor Nelson wait until Councilmember Laura Johnson finished her lengthy comments to point this out?

      The introduction of equity questions late in the Civic Park process resulted in inefficiencies approving a low bid contract. Was this the best time and place to discuss this topic? All know Council has much to accomplish. For example, corrections to Chapter 6.60 ECC voted off the agenda on September 15, 2020 and left in some mysterious, unfinished status. Chapter 6.60 ECC is titled Disaster Preparation, Emergency Coordination, and Civil Emergencies. This Chapter of the Code impacts all of us. City Council has known it contains errors for a long time.

      The September 15, 2020 City Council Meeting Agenda also documents that “The Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) is due to be updated this year”. The CEMP has not been updated and it is now July 15, 2021.

    2. Great points Evan. A landlocked neighborhood, fully built out, surrounded by large retail.spaces along two retail corridors, well that’s a difficult situation.

      I particularly agree that AFM’s stance was virtue signaling and simply a dog whistle. Laura brought light to issues after listing off all of the amenities (over the past 50 or 60 years have been developed in Edmonds) that her neighborhood enjoys. Perhaps it was an oversight by previous administration’s (I believe Ballinger area was annexed much later) to secure land for parks and recreation, I don’t know. I just don’t see AFM bringing practical solutions. Council has moved.forward with future improvements in that area, Highway 99 improvements are significant dollars to both sides and address many of the issues, and frankly, the only substance to AFM’s approach is to align with large regional political groups, spew unfounded garbage, and then blame it on everyone else for not making a difference. I know another candidate that will be my choice.

      Laura Johnson, again, thank you for your decorum and your vote to move forward with Civic Field.

  8. One of the first things you learn in a good college course is that statistics don’t prove things, they just suggest possible correlations between one thing and another and have to be scientifically studied with mathematical equations to prove any sort of relevance to solving any given problem. You talk about possible significance in terms of a percentage of reliability of the statistical findings or probabilities. I learned this by failing Statistics the first time I took the course. In short, people often jump to conclusions and/or lie using so called statistics they haven’t really studied or neecessarily interpreted properly.

    1. In short, when the agency reporting says ne careful using them as comparative data because of the myriad of differences and lack of, we should probably stick to the Washington and local data to make a difference locally Ander that be a catalyst for spurri.g change regionally and nationally, right? I didn’t fail statistics or probability, but if I were to just tale the headline at face value, I am more likely to be a victim of bias or hate in Washington than I am in Alabama and Mississippi. Locally, one is more likely to be a victim in our surrounding communities than in Edmonds. That’s at least true in 2019. When 2020 is published, it will be interesting to see the change.

  9. Ken,

    As always, I agree in part. For me, it was refreshing to hear decorum from Laura Johnson. The substance was.lacking (very little or no solutions) What wasn’t mentioned were what areas are viable areas for parks east of Highway 99? Limited to none. What wasn’t mentioned was that Edmonds is embarking on probably their largest redevelopment project ever with the Highway 99 project. That project includes safety upgrades, community develop.ent, private pocket parks, tree planting and landscaping, and many needed improvements to that corridor. That was overlooked. There were no mentions of requests to staff for picnic tables, covered canopies, trash cans, bathroom facilities or accessibility to East of Highway 99 parks that have been declined or ignored. If so, that’s a Staff and Administration issue. One would think that if parks east of Highway 99 need picnic tables that this wouldn’t require an act of Council to make it happen, the Mayor could probably use discretionary funds to get trash cans and picnic tables and Honey Buckets.

    Again, I agree completely that this last minute delay tactic to throw out politically convenient speech was a statement about equity that could have been addressed in separate line items. My sentiment is that Laura Johmson displayed decorum, not vitriol in supporting her decision and explaining her position. It was, whether I agree with her argument or not, better than the fist pounding and declarations made by AFM about our “racist” City. AFM has been promoting the interests of Lake Ballinger and areas east of Highway 99 for 10 years. I am trying to figure out how long it takes an effective Council member (keep in mind that we don’t have districts, but one would think we did) to get picnic tables and covered gazebos.

    You bring up excellent points and for me, the simple fact that we hear problem after problem after problem from a group on Council about how crappy we are to certain groups, but don’t hear concrete solutions. A passionate plea is not the same as a directive to staff to fix it

    1. Thanks George. Please allow me to better explain my concern with the seven-minute comment. On January 26, 2021, Council adopted via Motion a Code of Conduct. That Code of Conduct contains:

      6.1.A -Councilmembers shall focus discussions and debates on vision, policies, and their implementation.
      6.1.B -No Councilmember shall dominate proceedings during Council or other public meetings.

      I think it best to keep it simple and just follow Codes and Rules. If not, what happens the next time a Councilmember wants to make a seven-minute comment during a Council Meeting that is not specific to the item on the agenda? Since one Councilmember was allowed to do it, can all Councilmembers do so now? I think it best to just keep it simple and apply the Rules and Codes equally to all.

      Mayor Nelson waited until Councilmember Laura Johnson finished her lengthy comments to remind Council to keep the discussion to the specific item on the agenda. Why did he wait?

      That being said, I remain thankful Councilmembers Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Laura Johnson were unable to further delay or possible halt construction of Civic Park.

  10. Back on my soap box a bit; the only real answer to all this is to change to a District or Ward system to select our City Council Persons from, so at least everyone can feel they have some sort of input on city matters. At the debate last night there was at least one mention of the district concept in the Housing Commission Study and using that to determine needs and appropriate actions for the city’s various neighborhoods as opposed to the one solution fits all approach we now take. The various neighborhoods need an advocate they can depend on to make their collective voice heard.

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