The Edmonds City Council moved quickly through a full agenda Tuesday night, approving an Edmonds School District request for $210,000 in city American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, a professional services agreement for a new prosecuting attorney and a building lease to relieve overcrowding at the city’s current parks maintenance yard.
School Board President and Edmonds resident Nancy Katims asked the council to support the district’s request for the city to provide ARPA money for the 2023-24 school year. The money will be used to pay the salaries of student intervention coordinators at three local elementary schools.
Katims explained that as part of district budget cuts, the coordinator positions — also known as SInCs — were eliminated in the district’s smallest elementary schools, three of which are in the city of Edmonds: Chase Lake, Seaview and Edmonds.
“The SInC helps with behavior disruptions across the school, thereby allowing regular instruction to continue in classrooms,” Katims said. The district proposal calls for two full-time equivalent positions, with one of them split between Seaview and Edmonds elementaries and the other assigned to Chase Lake.
One public commenter, Jim Ogonowski, spoke against a council vote Tuesday night on the school district proposal, suggesting that the councilmembers take more time to get public input on the allocation.
The money will come from the city’s portion of ARPA funding that is now designated for job retraining. Councilmember Will Chen said that while he supported the allocation as a short-term fix for a pressing school district problem, he noted that job retraining is important and that the city should also have money available for that.
District officials have said they are working diligently to secure other funds for the positions — as well as to address other budget needs — beyond the 2023-24 school year.
The council also heard from Edmonds Boys and Girls Club officials about the latest design for their new $6 million facility, which will replace the 100-year-old building — a former Edmonds School District field house — now at Civic Center Park.
“This is primarily on the aesthetics of the building, what the building looks like and how it fits within the park and the commnity,” Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Human Services Director Angie Feser said. The building permit approval process will come later, she said.
Boys and Girls Club of Snohomish County Director Bill Tsoukalas explained that the club looked at retaining the existing building, “but with the age and condition and the code requirements and the stability of it, we felt the best option was to tear down and rebuild.”
The 16,000-square-foot building will be three times bigger than the current facility, and the club has raised more than 50% of the funding needed for the new building, he said.
Project architect Adam Clark walked the council through the design for the new building, explaining that the 16,000-square-foot facility includes a gym with club space located next to it. The building will need to meet LEED Silver standards “so it will be an environmentally friendly building with a minimum carbon footprint,” Clark said, adding that “we hope to pursue some opportunity for solar.”
Clark noted that the design does have “one issue with the zoning code” related to the planned gym and the city’s 25-foot height limit. Volleyball and basketball gym space requires 23 feet of height to meet regulations for play, plus 4 to 5 feet of structure “which puts us up to 28 and we need some roof slope, so 30 (feet) is about the minimum we can push this thing,” Clark said.
Councilmember Susan Paine asked if it would be possible for the gym construction to go down to avoid the height issue. Clark replied that the site has “serious groundwater issues, and we would hate to have a nice gym floor getting water issues and warping.”
Two people spoke during the public hearing. Edmonds resident Gerry Tays, who used to sit on the Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission, said that the new building design doesn’t carry forward any of historic elements from original fieldhouse building. “As important as that building has been to our city’s history for 100 or so years, it seems to me that we need to be bringing something into this new building that represents the old building,” he said. He suggested the architects “hire the services of a historic preservation architect and talk with them about what on that building can be incorporated” into the new structure.
The second person to testify, Roger Pence, agreed with Tays and suggested the design be referred to the city’s Architectural Design Board for preliminary consideration.
Clark repled that the architects “do hope to utilize some of the existing gym floor within the new club…and I think that’s giving a little bit of a nod to that history.”
Councilmember Dave Teitzel noted that he was on the Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission when members reviewed the idea of desginating the Edmonds Boys and Girls Club existing building as historic, “but it’s been remodeled extensively and didn’t qualify.”
Another item that generated a fair amount of council discussion was a professional services agreement for prosecuting attorney services. The council ended up awarding the contract to Walls Law Firm, but not before discussing whether it would be appropriate in the future for the council to become involved in the request for proposal process for prosecuting attorney contracts.
The city’s current contracted prosecuting attorney — Zachor, Stock & Krepps — announced in March it was ending its contract with Edmonds, giving 120 days notice. The city issued an request for proposals for a new firm and received one response — from the Walls firm.
Last week, the Everett Herald filed a public records request for the resignation letter that Zachor, Stock & Krebbs sent to Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson. The letter pointed to “a lack of communication between the executive and his contracted staff” as a primary reason that the firm cut short what was supposed to be a two-year contract with the city.
Councilmember Diane Buckshnis, who is running against Nelson for mayor, said it was “unfortunate” that the city administration didn’t share the resignation letter with the council, and that she had to learn about it during a call with a reporter.
Nelson was absent from Tuesday night’s meeting.
Councilmembers discussed whether city code should be amended to clarify how much council should be involved in such a selection process, and it was agreed to discuss it at a future meeting.
The council approved the contract after Councilmember Jenna Nand argued it was important to get the new attorneys on board, since the current prosecuting attorney firm’s last day is July 8.
.In other business, the council:
– Approved a proposal from Parks Director Feser to lease a vacant building in Edmonds’ Lake Ballinger neighborhood to relieve overcrowding at the city’s current parks maintenance yard. The property was formerly occupied by a landscaping company in the 24200 block of 76th Avenue West and the city has a $7,000-per-month lease. It is located near Highway 99 and the Interurban Trail, both of which require regular parks maintenance work. The property owner eventually wants to turn the space into a day care but that will likely be three years down the road, Feser said. By then, she hopes that the city will have a plan for using existing city assets for parks maintenance expansion.
– Approved an interagency agreement for an Edmonds police officer to serve as an instructor at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Academy. The training center will pay for the officer’s time and as a benefit, Edmonds’ new officers will get priority for entrance to the training academy, which now has a backlog.
– Approved an ordinance that would allow the city to begin the process of refinancing the city’s 2013 water and sewer bonds.
– Passed a resolution stating the city council’s desire to work collaboratively with the administration to develop a spending plan for expenditures related to a memorandum of agreement regarding the former Unocal property.
– Held a public hearing on budget priorities, which complements the city council emphasis — decided at an April budget retreat — to hear from citizens about their priorities. One person — Marjie Fields — offered testimony, stating she supports a range of environmental priorities including fixing stormwater issues in Perrinville Creek.
The council hosted its first budget outreach workshop June 12 at the city’s public works building and has another one scheduled for Thursday, June 22 at 5 p.m. at the Meadowdale Clubhouse. Learn more about that here.
There is also an online form aimed at making it easy to provide specific feedback to the council on the 2024 budget priorities, both for those attending the outreach events and for those who can’t. This online form can be found here.
The council postponed until a future meeting consideration of a letter to the Washington State Department of Transportation indicating the council’s intent to request a meeting with the governor to discuss the Unocal property and the Edmonds Marsh.
— By Teresa Wippel