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A Packed House & 522 Approval

  • Written by David B. Clark
Woodinville City Council met on Tuesday, June 19. Led by longtime Councilmember turned Mayor, James Evans began things in standard fashion with a Call to Order, the Roll Call, and the Flag Salute but it was what followed which set for a memorable opening. Celebrating almost a decade of thoughtful and thorough service, the Council recognized former Mayor Bernie Talmas.
 
Mayor Evans began, “This evening, the Council would like to recognize Bernie Talmas. He served on the Woodinville City Council since January of 2010.” Mayor Evans continued Talmas’ exponential climb up the Council hierarchy by stating his positions of Deputy Mayor and until early this month, Mayor of Woodinville. In addition, Talmas served as Commissioner on the Parks and Recreation commission in 2008-2009. Evans continued his recognition when he stated that Talmas was, “One of the main catalysts for the programs we [Woodinville] have today.” Mayor Evans rattled through a very impressive and long list of programs that Talmas was part of or served as a liaison to including the Tourism Taskforce, King County Land Conservation Advisory group, and the Solid Waste committee among many others.
 
Evans joked, “I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do all of that.” He continued by stating, “We wish Mr. Talmas all the best of luck in his future pursuits. We’re grateful for his commitment to enhance the Woodinville community.” Mayor Evans concluded, “I will miss him as a fellow council member.”
 
Talmas then made a statement to the Council and attendees. He began by echoing Mayor Evans humor, “Thank you very much. I didn’t realize anyone was keeping track of that stuff.” He continued in earnest, “Being a Councilmember for eight-and-a-half years was very challenging and rewarding… the most rewarding aspect of it was the people I met; the people I never would have met if I was not on the Council.” He continued by saying how thankful he was to meet and work with mayors and council members from other jurisdictions. He concluded, “I want to say thank you to all the people that enriched my life. Thank you.”
 
A photo with the current City Council and a brief recess followed.
 
Public Comment occurred after and it was clear how Mayor Evans feels when he said, “I quite frankly look at this as the most important part of the meeting… Hearing from people.”
 
Eager community members, Bothell residents, and business owners turned out in droves to make their opinions heard. Almost all of these commenters had something to say regarding the consideration of resolution No. 522, the Woodinville Civic Campus Partnership Development Agreement and Purchase and Sale Agreement. As mandated by the set regulation and standards of the Council, each attendee to address the board was limited to three minutes. This was the case even if an individual was representing a group or organization.
 
Of the 18 total commenters, 13 were in favor of Council voting to approve the Civic Campus development agreement and purchase and sale agreement, four were against, and one attendee stated that he would support the Council regardless of their decision.
 
Rachel Bess Campbell stated that she was urging Council to approve the plan for the evolution of Woodinville and the need to improve existing land. Other individuals who approached the board felt similarly stating that it would benefit the community, provide potential space for theater or other live performance events, and act as a social hub where members of the community could come together. One Bothell resident referenced the Anderson School Hotel: McMenamin’s. Bothell’s first middle school was revitalized and now acts a central gathering place for community members for family fun, food, and drink. Several members of the YMCA also shared their thoughts urging Council to vote for the development.
 
Not everyone attending the Council’s meeting wanted the council to move forward with this massive project. Penelope Jupiter Zela stated her concerns about parking.
 
Former Mayor Bernie Talmas stood in opposition of the approval. Talmas referenced the Fowler Property across the street which he said was very comparable and sold for a much higher price. He stated that more deliberate and thorough architecture plans needed to be produced and provided to Council and that there was “no real urgency” to make a decision on this matter the evening of June 19.
 
Paul Cowles, after expressing his gratitude to Bernie Talmas for his many years on Council, said, “We did not elect the City Manager. You [Council Members] should be managing this project.”
After Public Comment, Deputy Mayor Elaine Cook moved to approve the Consent Calendar in content and order. Then the council continued to the much-anticipated Business Items.
 
First was consideration for resolution No. 524, the downtown vision and illustrative guide. In May 2016, Councilmembers and members of the public were given the opportunity to come up with a conceptual vision of the downtown area. This plan was what the community wanted the city to look like in years to come. While this plan is now two years in the making, MAKERS Architecture and Urban Planning has provided a thorough and detailed guide. Councilmember Paula Waters said that what was presented on June 19, 2018 was a “cohesive document that works” and that she was in full support of it. Councilmember Boundy-Sanders stated, “The illustrations are great… they add so much to this document.” The motion was passed unanimously.
 
The Council then moved on and received and filed the annual report from the YMCA.
 
City Manager Brandon Buchanan then led Council through a very detailed and updated presentation of the consideration of resolution for No. 522 the Woodinville Civic Campus Partnership Development Agreement and Purchase and Sale Agreement.
 
Woodinville’s Civic Campus goals were determined: create a community gathering place, retain and renovate the Old Woodinville Schoolhouse, retain the City of Woodinville’s Recreation Center, make this project a model for the City’s vision of Downtown as set forth in the Downtown Illustrative Guidelines, be financially feasible for private developers, and limit the City’s financial investment and risk.
Approval of resolution 522 does multiple things including: approves purchase and sale agreement, approves development agreement, and authorizes the City Manager to take actions necessary to effectuate purposes of the project.
 
The last City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 5 gathered numerous questions and concerns about the project that could not be answered at that time. These primarily fell into the four categories of paid parking and the impact on existing parking, the possibility of also having a repurchase option on the public plaza, a valuation of land, and finally the demand and promise of quality uses regarding the Old Woodinville Schoolhouse. When Council did not have the expertise or experience concerning these issues they brought in professionals that worked for their interests to help better elucidate some of the more specific and particular points.
 
Parking yielded the response that it was a significant part of revenue model and that spaces needed to be filled all the time. A way to do this was to have flexible rates to ensure spots are filled. Additionally, users like the YMCA would be able to avoid paid parking via validations.
 
The repurchase option of the public plaza was deemed essential to the “feel” of the project.
 
Among other particulars, an analysis showed how the “Fowler Property” was not a valid comparison because the “Fowler property” was not listed for sale which makes for a non-motivated seller to have a higher sales price. The “Fowler Property” has existing buildings with existing tenants that continue to generate lease revenue prior to redevelopment and is not encumbered like the Civic Campus with its historic schoolhouse and its prospective areas for public uses.
 
After moving to approve Resolution 522 as amended, Deputy Mayor Elaine Cook said, “I see this project as a model of the future development of the city. It represents the past, the future, thoughtful progress, inclusion, collaboration, vision, and a sign of this city’s civic success,” She finished with, “The amount of value we are getting out of this project supersedes and trumps anything we’re giving.”
Councilmember Al Taylor then stated, “I appreciate the passion for this project… but getting it right and getting it detailed is important.” Taylor wanted to make clear he is not pushing back on the project, only that he wanted more detail.
 
Councilmembers Rubstello, Waters, and Boundy-Sanders all expressed deep thanks to everyone involved.
 
Mayor Evans then stated that he would support this but that it was not the final step. He looks forward to working through the concerns on things like public spaces and parking but believed that supporting the approval was the best action.
 
There was a rollcall vote to approve Resolution 522 as amended that ended 5:1. Five Yeses and one No. Councilmember Al Taylor was the only member to vote No. Applause then rang through the meeting.
 
With Mr. Talmas’ resignation last week, the council has 90 days to fill Counsel Position Pos. 7.
 

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