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Kenmore takes a look back, and a look ahead

  • Written by Don Mann

The Kenmore City Council held its annual retreat last month, where it looked back on its major accomplishments of 2009 and set its priorities, goals and objectives for 2010. There was a lot to be proud of, it was agreed at last Monday’s council meeting, with much work still to be done.

"It was a challenging year, but a productive year," City Manager Fred Stouder said.

In fact, in its printed report of the retreat, the council listed 24 accomplishments, as well as 16 goals for this year.

Some of the more notable successes include retaining the city’s post office, completion of the Bastyr Master Plan, including signing a 10-year lease for continued use of its ball fields, major landscaping improvements at Rhododendron Park, and obtaining a $100,000 grant for habitat restoration in Swamp Creek — to name just a handful.

Two of the city’s most significant projects, however, remain works in progress: the construction of the new city hall and the completion of the SR-522 road improvement — though the building will be completed shortly while the final phase of the road still waits for funding.

"The new city hall will be substantially completed in late April," Stouder said. "Then there will be a two-week shakedown period to push all the new buttons and make sure all systems are go."

He said city staff expects to move in mid-May. Shortly after, the Kenmore public will be invited to an open house on the tentative date of May 8.

The new site is located in the city’s downtown core along 68th Avenue NE between 181st and 182nd streets and replaces the old facility across the street in the shopping plaza that was originally designed as a drive-through bank and was woefully short on space. The new 21,600-square-foot edifice will also contain an underground parking lot that will accommodate 39 parking spaces, a council chambers with an executive session room and a community meeting room.

For the past 10 years, city council meetings have been held in rented space at the Northshore Utility District.

The new community meeting room, Stouder said, will be made available for community members to rent for a variety of functions.

The facility will also include a rain garden and an art gallery space to feature the work of local artists on a rotating basis.

Stouder said the total budget for the project is about $15 million, substantially less than the 2008 estimation of $19 million, due to the decline of overall construction activity and the climate of lower bids.

The final phase of the SR-522 project is the last three-quarter mile segment of the $72 million two-mile overhaul, but it is currently unfunded. Stouder said the $23 million needed to complete the project continues to be sought after through a major lobbying effort to obtain federal funds, though it’s unlikely to be acquired until 2011.

The final segment runs from 57th Avenue NE to 65th Avenue NE and will include widened travel and Business Access and Travel (BAT) lanes, additional turning lanes at intersections, signal improvements, illumination, center medians, sidewalks, drainage improvements, landscaping, utility conversion to underground and provide for better local business access.

At the retreat, it was reported council members discussed current aspects of the overall project including recent landslides that impacted the Burke Gillman trail, the need for a bridge over the roadway, and ways to conceal cell towers.

Further, it was noted that when tolls are applied to the Lake Washington bridges it will increase traffic along the corridor. It was also noted that the city would be gathering pre- and post-traffic data as a means to receive state mitigation funds in the future.

Among the council’s goals for 2010-2011 are the following: To seek funds and move forward with the SR-522 project; seek solutions for keeping the Carole Ann Wald Pool; conduct a review of the city’s police services’ contract; address Swamp Creek flooding and restoration; and continue to seek opportunities to complete a successful Lake Pointe waterfront development.

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