Council tackles construction, art, field rentals and technology

  • Written by Don Mann
With Mayor Chuck Price absent for the third consecutive week, six of seven Woodinville City Council members were on hand Tuesday to discuss five study session items Tuesday at its regularly scheduled meeting.

Four votes were taken, no-brainers all, and each passed unanimously.

First off, the council awarded a construction contract to Sanders General Construction of Maple Valley for the Woodinville-Snohomish Road/NE 195th Street widening project for $1,015,000, an increase of over $300,000 in the original estimate.

Woodinville City Works Director Tom Hansen said bids came in higher than expected, noting the higher cost of construction work done at night, asphalt costs more than anticipated due to global oil hikes and the price of traffic control at the troublesome intersection. City Finance Director Jim Katicka said the city’s uncommitted REET 1 and REET 2 funds from 2010 would offset the increase and would not jeopardize other future capital projects. The council then approved a bid from Road Construction Northwest of Renton of $330,000 for the construction of a strip of sidewalk on NE 145th St., west of the Chateau Ste. Michelle boundary from 138th Street to SR-202. The bid was $80,000 more than anticipated for similar reasons, but will be covered under the same REET resources, Hansen said.

The next item of business got a little touchy, and Oregon artist Shelley Curtis took a thumping she will never know, and it was complicated.

Malka Fricks, who passed away in January at age 73, was a longtime Woodinville resident, an arts lover and an original member of the city’s erstwhile Public Arts Advisory Committee as well as the current Park and Recreation Commission. Marla, a New York transplant, told it like it was and was known for her sense of humor.

In her will Fricks dedicated $20,000 for a public arts sculpture to be established at the city center corner of NE 175th Street and 133rd Avenue NE. The executor of her estate suggested various pieces of sculpture from Curtis and provided photos: cougar, hare, fox, doe, wolf and basset hounds. The council was asked to express its preference for a selection, and found none of them representative.

"I’m disappointed we’re not giving this due time and due diligence to honor her appropriately," Councilmember Liz Aspen said. "This is an emotional issue for those of us who cared about Malka. For her to donate $20,000 is a big deal."

She said the council needed to find a quality piece of art that reflects Woodinville and Malka’s whimsical nature.

After much discussion it was moved to request Fricks’ executor for permission to eschew the provided samples and choose a piece of more representative art by forming a citizen committee of friends and associates of Malka.

The next agenda item was of a housekeeping nature: Approval of Resolution No. 407, amending parks’ facility rental policies, procedures and rates.

With Woodinville Fields the only city rental available, there was an emphasis on lower rates for citizens of Woodinville.

Though having effectively priced itself out of the market by dint of a previous vote which set higher rental rates, the council determined that to qualify for the current resident discount it’s now mandatory that the user have at least 50 members or 10 percent of the organization be city residents, and youth groups have priority over adult groups in terms of rental block time.

Finally, council held a discussion on electronic attendance by council members. At a previous meeting council directed city staff to research the matter and staff discovered a number of regional cities that allowed electronic attendance under limited conditions.

Alexandra Sheeks, assistant to the city manager, pointed out the pros and cons regarding the issue.

Pros were limited, but included dealing with a situation where a quorum (a majority, in this case four of seven members) was available in case of emergency when policy needed to be determined.

Cons included the need for necessary and perhaps costly, effectual electronic equipment, a determination of when it would be appropriate, and — pointedly — a risk to public interaction and transparency.

Councilmember Paulette Bauman was quick to express her non-support.

"It goes against transparency ... and it’s just not good government," she said.

Councilmember Jeff Glickman wanted to re-define "when appropriate."

Councilmember Liz Aspen said there had never been a case in city history when a quorum was not in attendance and did not support it other than in a city emergency.

Councilmember Scott Hageman also expressed non-support, other than in a "true" emergency situation. "It should not be a regular practice by any means," he said.

Councilmember Susan Boundy-Sanders suggested that telephonic appearances might be put in place if called for.

There was some question on whether the issue was for the benefit of a personal or public emergency and Glickman reminded the council that the issue was for the benefit of the city, not the council member.

Deputy Mayor Bernie Talmas was firm in opposition other than in a true emergency, and directed city staff to draft future language policy in accordance with the prevailing opinions, should the need arise.

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