Last week’s City Council meeting was a time for the council to plan ahead. The council received a briefing on the comprehensive plan and Zoning Code update, then continued the public hearing on the city’s budget for 2015 and 2016.
In the public hearing about the budget, much of the council’s discussion centered around the 2015-2016 Capital Improvement Plan, which allocates $23.2 million to 25 projects.
“As we seem to say every biennium, we’re going to have a busy next two years,” Alexandra Sheeks, assistant to the city manager, said. “A lot of the activity is going to be around design and planning for 2015, with the construction really kicking off in 2016. I also want to highlight that we do have a lot of contingencies for these projects, so whether that’s grant, scope or timeline, there’s some dependencies as far as development goes.”
Improvements to NE 171st Street will help handle increased traffic by turning the road into an “urban parkway” with roundabouts. The project will cost $6 million, but half of that will come from grants, and development impacts will contribute some more. Construction is scheduled for 2016.
The budget includes $400,000 to study the SR 202 trestle and corridor widening. In total, the project could cost $23.9 million, with the city planning to obtain a design and right-of-way in 2015, construct the trestle in 2016-2018, and widen the corridor in 2017-2021.
Mayor Bernie Talmas said he was reluctant to go ahead with the study when conditions could change. For example, the city might not end up using the railroad north of the trestle, so the trestle might not need to be replaced.
The recommended Capital Improvement Plan also includes several improvements at the intersections of SR 522, NE 195th Street and Woodinville-Snohomish Road; completing the Woodinville-Duvall Road widening by June 2015 and widening the Sammamish River Bridge.
In Woodinville’s civic center, projects on the CIP include updating the Civic Center Master Plan from 2001, creating more parking and gathering space and updating and repairing City Hall, which could enable renovation of the old Woodinville Schoolhouse.
Councilmember Liz Aspen was concerned that one potential project didn’t make it on the list. Dave Witt, executive director of the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce, said that business owners in the Hollywood District were worried about pedestrian safety on SR 202.
“I sit down there and I watch people running across the road, as cars are whizzing around that corner, to go from Ste. Michelle or Columbia to the tavern,” Aspen said. “It’s just an accident waiting to happen.”
City Manager Richard Leahy said there is no history of pedestrian or bike accidents at that corner, and the city is looking at cheaper alternatives to make it safer, like getting the state to lower the speed limit to from 45 m.p.h. to 35 m.p.h. He said he didn’t recommend building a pedestrian pathway until the Woodinville Village development is “more defined.”
The public hearing on the budget will continue at the Dec. 2 City Council meeting. Another opportunity for the public to give input is with the comprehensive plan and Zoning Code update.
A consultant for the city explained last week that the city just released drafts of four documents for public comment: the Comprehensive Plan update, the Municipal Code Update and Best Available Science Review, the Environmental Impact Statement and the Existing Conditions Report.
The comprehensive plan is required by state law to be updated by June 2015, and will plan the city’s future from 2015 to 2035.
“I would just like to suggest or recommend to the public that you get involved in the process,” Councilmember Hank Stecker said. “This is a document that was just presented to the City Council and the planning commission today, so we’re just getting our feet wet … there’s some changes in here you may be interested in, instead of being surprised at the end.”