By Sally Gillie, Monitor
The new wakeboard park on Lake Tye in Monroe received the go-ahead from the Washington State Department of Ecology last week in the form of a conditional use permit, and park developers are now poised to move forward with the next phase of the project.
Monroe Public Works Director Brad Feilberg said the city was notified of the DOE’s approval of the conditional use permit on Feb. 22. With that requirement out of the way, he said the city can now begin processing permit applications from H3O Development, creators of the new cable park. Feilberg said H3O had already submitted an application for a grading permit, and an application for a building permit will follow.
Construction on the new cable park could get started as early as this May, according to David Sherrard of Parametrix, a consultant who is coordinating work on the project.
“At this time we’re just waiting to get one more permit from the Corps of Engineers,” he said.
Park plans call for a 2,500 square foot facility to house the ticketing offices, board rentals, a sports shop, restrooms, and lockers. The wakeboarding recreation area would cover about 17 acres of lake surface at the south end of Lake Tye. There will be one large cable circuit running between a network of six towers, and a smaller two-way cable between two towers for beginning wakeboarders.
City asks for clarification on Eaglemont subdivision
Before granting preliminary plat approval to the proposed Eaglemont residential development of 146 new homes west of Chain Lake Road, the city council is asking for clarification on a hearing examiner’s ruling. That ruling set conditions for the subdivision, which is located at 13611 197th Ave. SE near the Sinclair Heights neighborhood.
The examiner’s conditions included having the developer dedicate right of way streets and making frontage improvements such as curbs, gutters, sidewalks and street trees; and making improvements to 197th Ave SE to meet the requirements set in the Monroe Municipal Code to allow for access by fire trucks and emergency service vehicles.
At the Feb. 26 council meeting, discussion centered on details regarding street improvements and access roads to the 35-acre subdivision. The council directed staff to remand the matter back to the hearing examiner for further clarification, requesting a response by March 5. The council could take action on the preliminary plat later this month.
The new Eaglemont plat, proposed by RAD Development, was challenged by the Sinclair Heights Homeowners Association. The association appealed the city’s SEPA determination of non-significance for the proposal, with residents testifying last January before the city hearing examiner that adding 146 homes to the area would have adverse impacts on traffic flow, and that access to and from the neighborhood was limited and could create delays for emergency vehicles to get in and out of the area quickly. Residents also testified the development would put a strain on an already challenged storm water system.
That appeal was denied by hearing examiner Carl Cox in a decision handed down Feb. 7, in which he found that the project developer had made satisfactory provisions for storm water management and provision for additional access as may be needed for emergency vehicles.
A city-owned five-acre parcel located west of the Eaglemont development could provide an answer to the access problem for the proposed subdivision. Later in the meeting, the council directed the staff to get an appraisal of that property with an intent to sell.
Council votes to outsource city’s information technology
The council adopted a new policy this week to begin subcontracting out its IT services, which are currently handled in-house by one city hall staffer.
“The technology available today has outpaced where we’re at, and it’s not necessary to have on-site support for IT services on a daily basis,” said council member Kurt Goering, who introduced the new agenda item and made the motion for the new policy.
Goering said handling the city’s IT services externally makes sense from both a data security standpoint and as a cost saving measure.
“We’ll save the taxpayers money, and have more secure data and back-up,” said Goering, who added that many large companies are going this direction today for these reasons.
On a motion made by Goering, the council voted 6-1 in favor of subcontracting out its future IT services, with council member Patsy Cudaback casting the dissenting vote. The motion calls for allocating the remaining dollars in the 2013 IT budget to include bringing in a third party to handle the city’s IT services.
New business – city looks at downtown parking
The council will be considering making changes in the downtown parking zones, including the possibility of getting rid of the two-hour parking zones and replacing them with four-hour time limits.
There are a lot of ideas from business owners and shoppers about how downtown parking could be improved, said Mayor Zimmerman, who said he and other elected officials have listened to many questions and concerns about downtown parking over the years.
“It’s a perennial issue in the city,” said Feilberg. The city has fielded many concerns from business owners and residents over parking, with some asking to shorten the times and have 15-minute zones available, and others wanting to extend the parking time limits.
As a starting point for discussion, Feilberg has taken suggestions brought forward in 2009 from the Chamber of Commerce and DREAM, proposing two-hour parking in the 100 block of Main St., four-hour parking in the 200 block, and four-hour or unlimited parking in the north-south streets beyond.
The council also will be considering a Destination Development report that was prepared on Monroe, recommending the city take away all of the two-hour parking zones and replacing them four-hour limits as a way to encourage downtown Monroe as a destination and give people from further away incentive to come to Monroe and have more time to spend money.
“I feel that based on the conversations I have had, the council may want to look at these destination development suggestions,” Zimmerman said.
Council member Patsy Cudaback agreed, saying that study had merit because it was looking out “for the best interests of all businesses as a whole.” She added that new changes being considered in downtown parking “need to get out before the public” for review.
The initial proposals for the changes in downtown parking can be found on the city’s website.
March 9 is National Passport Day
The City of Monroe will be observing national Passport Day this Saturday, March 9 with a special event at city hall between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Citizens can come during those hours and either apply for a new passport or get information about passports if they are preparing to travel outside the country. The event is part of a national outreach aimed to educate people about why passports are needed and how they can be obtained.
The city does not accept passport renewal applications.
Information about the cost of a passport can be found at www.travel.state.gov, or by calling the National Passport Information Center at 1 (877) 487-2778.
Those attending the Monroe event can bring a check or money order made out to the Department of State, a certified birth certificate, a driver’s license and current photos. For those who don’t have photos, the city can take them for $15. Persons under 16 years of age applying for a passport should be accompanied by both parents.
For more information, visit the city’s website at www.monroewa.gov.