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Kenmore hears from its public

  • Written by Don Mann
Rhododendron Park
Photo courtesy of City of Kenmore Kenmore’s Rhododendron Park
Updating its park, recreation and open space (PROS) plan as mandated by the state — and, more significantly, keeping itself eligible for the small portions of grant money that gets doled out — the city of Kenmore held a town hall meeting on parks at City Hall last Monday prior to its regularly scheduled city council meeting.

About two dozen concerned citizens attended, providing feedback to city questions raised about existing and future park and recreation opportunities in Kenmore.

For example: What do you currently like about Kenmore parks that you would like to see preserved?

What in Kenmore’s parks would you like to see changed? Are there any facilities or improvements or programs you would like to see in Kenmore parks that are missing? Are there any unmet recreational needs in the city? What park improvements do you think should be a priority?

As background, the city of about 22,000 residents (Bothell has about 33,000 residents; Woodinville about 11,000) owns about 105 acres of park property in seven parks with approximately 84 percent in passive use, or unimproved from its natural state.

The parks include Linwood, Logboom, Moorlands, Northshore Summit, Rhododendron, Squires Landing and Wallace Swamp Creek. The city will add another 27 acres in Twin Springs, the result of a land transfer agreement with King County in lieu of mitigation of the Brightwater portal construction on 80th Ave. NE, estimated for completion in late 2014.

The state owns the 316-acre St. Edward State Park including the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife boat launch.

King County owns the Burke-Gilman Trail, which extends 18-miles from Ballard to Bothell.

Kenmore Councilmember Brent Smith skillfully emceed the town hall meeting Monday, as citizen questions and suggestions were written on a white board and each topic was approached with civility and respect — and even a sense of humor —  from citizens and council members alike.

An elderly citizen, claiming she’s lived near the greenbelt for 24 years, asked why undeveloped Northshore Summit Park couldn’t be left the way it is.

“I can’t imagine why we just can’t leave it alone,” she said.

She was gently reminded by Councilmember Laurie Sperry that in addition to the 105 acres of parks in Kenmore there exists 92 acres of wetlands with abundant opportunity for citizens’ wildlife viewing.

Councilmember Allen Van Ness said the plans for Northshore Summit remain consistent with the master plan established in 2006, and the vast majority of the 3.7 acre neighborhood park will remain untainted with only drainage improvements and a small playground facility with a picnic area on the docket.

“I understand your concerns,” Van Ness said. “But the thing we need is to reach some compromises where we can improve it for the people that want a bit of activity, where they can go take the kids, a small playground, a picnic area, but retain a sense of nature. I think we can reach a happy medium.”

Another Northshore Summit neighbor said she was in favor of a small playground and picnic area, but asked that the picnic tables be uncovered.

“Focus on a playground for younger kids, not teenagers,” she said, apparently fearful of vandalism.

“A covered area will invite teens to hang out there when probably they shouldn’t be hanging out there.”

There were head-nods but no comments from council members, and the focus shifted to an item bandied about since Kenmore incorporated in 1998: a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over SR-522 (Bothell Way) linking to the Burke-Gilman Trail, Logboom Park and Lake Washington.

Whether biking or walking, crossing that six-lane highway, even at its traffic-lighted intersections one citizen said, especially during rush hours with Metro buses chugging east and west in the 45 mph zone, is both dangerous and daunting.

That same citizen, noting Kenmore Camera will soon be leaving its present location at 67th Ave. NE, just a stone’s throw north of 522, suggested the timing for a pedestrian bridge was right.

He thought it was worthwhile for the Kenmore powers-that-be to do an engineering study of its feasibility, just to get a price.

“What does it cost?” he asked. “I think we could rally a lot of public support for that. The trail is a wonderful resource … the timing’s there, the property’s there and it’s a great location that feeds our downtown area.”

(Only two weeks earlier the Kenmore council cheerfully reported a land sale agreement with Kenmore Camera, filling a large void in its erstwhile Kenmore Village plans to link its downtown village hopes to walkability to the lake.)

Kenmore Councilmember Bob Hensel thought it was a worthwhile suggestion, citing that a year ago University of Washington-Bothell graduate engineering students were tasked by council, for school credit, with creating models to literally bridge that gap. There were some variations:  An overpass was obvious; an underpass was less so.

Both, however, are exorbitantly expensive and the city has no money for that in its general budget.


It’ll come down to a bond issue, paid by the taxpayers a little bit over a long time, if the overwhelming (60 percent) majority of the people really want it.

THE AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE ACT IN WASHINGTON STATE

  • Written by office of Washington state Governor Chris Gregoire

Ed. Note: Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 2010 Affordable Care Act. In a close decision, with multiple opinions, the Court ruled that the federal requirement to purchase health insurance —  specifically a plan dictated by government regulators — does not violate the Constitution.

On March 23, 2010, the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law. This significant health care reform bill with its numerous provisions will have far-reaching implications.

The Affordable Care Act outlines new rules for health insurers to make coverage more universally accessible and keep premiums affordable.

It sets up a new, comprehensive health insurance market so it will be easier for Americans to have choices and make informed decisions when selecting a health plan.

It expands health insurance subsidies to all low-income Americans.

And it funds efforts to increase the use of evidence-based medicine and reduce waste in the health care system.

Health care is an issue of significant importance to Washington state residents. Recent health care trends have been very concerning.

The rate of uninsured adults in Washington has been on the rise  —  increasing from 12.9 percent in 2006, to 15.5 percent in 2008 and 17.9 percent in 2010.

From 2008 to 2010, charity care by hospitals and health care providers rose a staggering 36 percent.

From 2003 to 2010, the average health insurance premium for an individual in Washington state rose 42 percent.

For a family, the increase was 54 percent.

The Affordable Care Act benefits almost 2 million citizens here in Washington state.

The following are key points about these benefits and how they affect Washington citizens and businesses:


Health insurance consumer protections

• Families with commercial health insurance gained the right to keep young adults up to age 26 on their plan. More than 52,000 individuals have benefited from this change.

• Families seeking insurance for their child gained the right to have the child’s pre-existing condition covered without any exclusion.

• Commercial health insurance companies are prohibited from imposing lifetime limits on spending on an individual’s care.

This protects consumers against the danger of having their health insurance coverage disappear when they are facing expensive, but necessary treatment costs.

More than 2.4 million residents, including 580,000 children, have benefited from the ban on lifetime limits.

• Individuals with commercial health insurance gained the right to receive preventive services such as mammograms and flu shots without out-of-pocket cost-sharing.

More than 650,000 people in our state with Medicare, and more than 1.2 million with private insurance, received preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing.


Assistance for small employers

• More than 100,000 small businesses in Washington are now eligible for a federal small business tax credit designed to make it easier for them to provide health insurance coverage to their employees and to make premiums more affordable.


Health benefit exchange

• A health benefit exchange is being designed, developed and initially operated with $151 million in federal funding.

It will be available to every person in the state as a user-friendly means to evaluate and compare health insurance plans and enroll in the one that works best.

It will also identify federal subsidies available to make the insurance more affordable.


Expansion of publicly funded health insurance for individuals and families

• About 850 residents who have health conditions that previously made it difficult for them to get health insurance are now insured through the federally subsidized Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. This coverage goes beyond what is available under the Washington State Health Insurance Pool because it does not include the same six-month, pre-existing condition waiting period.

• 50,000 residents with incomes below 133 percent ($25,390 for a family of three) of the federal poverty level* retained their subsidized health insurance in the state Basic Health Plan and medical care services programs because the state received new federal funding support tied to the Affordable Care Act to help support these programs. Due to limited state funds, more than 168,000 additional residents are on the wait-list to enroll in the Basic Health Plan.

• More than 25,000 children in families with incomes between 200 and 300 percent ($38,180 to $57,270 for a family of three) of the federal poverty level will retain their health insurance into 2015 as federal funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program has been extended beyond the formerly projected September 2013 expiration date.

• 328,000 eligible residents with incomes below 133 percent ($25,390 for a family of three) of the federal poverty level are slated to be eligible for health insurance coverage with the Affordable Care Act expansion of Medicaid in 2014. Currently, very low-income working-age adults are eligible for Medicaid coverage only if they have significant disabilities or have children and are participating in the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program.

• Up to 410,000 Washingtonians could be served in the first year of the health benefit exchange. Up to 670,000 would gain insurance when the exchange is fully implemented.


Medicare improvements

• Nearly 1 million seniors who have Medicare coverage gained the right under the Affordable Care Act to receive preventive services such as annual check-ups, mammograms and flu shots without out-of-pocket cost-sharing.

• Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare beneficiaries will see a phase-out of the prescription drug “doughnut hole,” and many seniors should see significantly reduced prescription drug costs. More than 62,000 seniors have already received a 50 percent discount on covered, brand-name   prescription drugs.


Public health system improvements

• More than $6 million in funding has been granted for core public health services such as environmental health tracking, disease surveillance and public health lab testing activities.

This enables the state’s Department of Health to better respond to health outbreaks such as swine flu and pertussis, or whooping cough.

• $35 million in new funding has been granted for expanding public health services to vulnerable populations.

These services include immunizations to underserved children, expansion of evidence-based home visiting services to at-risk families with young children and programs to reduce teen pregnancy rates.


*The federal poverty level depends on family size. For a family of three, the federal poverty level is an annual income of $19,090.

‘MyVote’ now available

  • Written by Brian Zylstra
Deputy Communications Director/Legislative Liaison

Office of Secretary of State

Many voters want a quick and easy way to learn more about the candidates they’ll see on their primary ballot.

Others simply want a fast and convenient way to register to vote or update their registration status in time for the primary.

For all you voters and would-be voters, a great online tool to use is “MyVote.” It has recentlybeen revamped by our elections division so it’s more convenient to use than ever.

Go to https://wei.sos.wa.gov/agency/osos/ed/pages/myvote.aspx.

If you’ve never registered to vote in Washington, or if you’ve recently moved and need to update your registration status, you can do either through MyVote.

To get started, just type in your first and last name and your date of birth.

July 9 is the deadline for Washington residents to register online or to update their registration status if they want to vote in the 2012 primary.

Washington uses a voter-approved Top 2 Primary. You may vote for your favorite candidate for each office without regard to party. The two top vote-getters for each office will advance to the general election this fall.

Voters can see their customized voters’ guide thanks to “MyVote, ”including the U.S. Senate contest, and congressional, statewide, legislative, local and judicial races.

“MyVote” also tells you your ballot status, the places where you can return your ballot, and how to contact your elected officials.

The 2012 primary concludes Aug. 7.

Voting will be entirely by mail. Ballots recently were mailed to military and overseas voters. Ballots will be sent to other Washington voters starting July 20.

Windermere Woodinville donates a day of service

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Windermere

Courtesy photo

Recently, the folks at Windermere Woodinville devoted their work day to enhance the landscaping at the Carol Edwards Center, now used by the Northshore YMCA. In conjunction with the Northshore Y at the Carol Edwards Center, more than 30 people volunteered their time to beautify the center. Windermere’s Community Service Day has been recognized nationally as a model hands-on volunteer program.

The Windermere Woodinville Office has been participating in this community service day event for more than 20 years.

Parks Levy Task Force to recommend funding for King County Parks

  • Written by Department of Natural Resources and Parks
King County Executive Dow Constantine has appointed 20 local business and civic leaders to a task force charged with developing and recommending a funding strategy for King County Parks, once two levies that currently support parks operations and new acquisitions expire at the end of 2013.

“Parks, trails and open space are part of what make King County a great place to live,” said Constantine. “I have asked the task force to map a course that keeps our parks open and continues to build the system for future generations.”

The Task Force met for the first time June 26 at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center. Additional meetings are being scheduled for July and August.

The Executive has asked members of the new King County Parks Levy Task Force to recommend a funding strategy that will ensure the vitality and sustainability of King

County’s parks and trails in 2014 and beyond. The Task Force is expected to submit its recommendations to the county executive by the end of September.

Voters in 2007 approved two six-year levies to support King County parks and trails.

Approved by 63 percent, the 2008-2013 Parks Operating Levy funds maintenance of the County’s parks and trails, including Marymoor Park, the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center and the Sammamish River Trail.

The 2008-2013 Open Space and Trails Levy, which was approved by 59 percent, provides funds for the County to acquire open space and develop the regional trails system, as well as funds for open space and trails projects in King County’s 39 cities, and for programs and capital improvements at the Woodland Park Zoo.

All Task Force meetings will be held at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center from 4-6 p.m. and are open to the public.

The 20 members of King County Parks Levy Task Force include Terry Lavender, King County Conservation Futures Citizen Advisory Committee Member nad Louise Miller, former State Legislator and King County Council Member

Learn more at http://www.kingcounty.gov/parks/.