By Debbie Klosowski, Mayor, City of University Place
Residential sprinkler systems, future road improvement proposals and an update from our new Police Chief were among the items discussed at this week’s University Place City Council meeting.
Residential Sprinklers – UP Assistant Fire Chief Dave Dupille presented a dramatic video demonstrating how quickly a fire can spread throughout a home lacking a residential sprinkler system. The Fire Department is encouraging the City to consider a sprinkler ordinance; however, the Council has not yet set a study session on this issue. In the meantime, the Fire Department is scheduling a demonstration burn of two identical structures on Saturday, October 30, at 11 a.m. in the gravel lot south of the Public Safety Building at 3631 Drexler Drive West to show the public how quickly a fire can spread.
Road Plans – Each year, the City is required by state law to update and adopt a Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Included projects on the list are usually based upon factors such as road connections, safety issues and other needed improvements. Developing a Six-Year TIP does NOT commit the City to any financial expenditures, nor does it guarantee that the projects will be done within that time period.
It is advantageous for the City to develop this list because many grant agencies require projects to appear on the City’s TIP as criteria for grant consideration. This list also provides information to other jurisdictions and utility providers regarding the City’s plans which can often lead to leveraged funds and less inconvenience for residents in terms of construction activities.
Several residents living along 37th Street between Bridgeport Way and Sunset testified at the TIP public hearing requesting the removal of two proposals to extend 37th Street through a cul-de-sac along with providing sidewalks and other improvements. Most of the concerns revolved around increased traffic, impact on wildlife and pedestrian safety. The 37th Street projects were originally placed on the TIP list several years ago in response to the Fire District’s request to improve access to various parts of the City; however, that need is not as pronounced due to the District’s decision to keep the fire station on 40th. Other reasons for including the projects, however, involved improving the long term traffic circulation throughout the entire Town Center zone from 35th to 44th.
Although Council understood residents’ concerns, questions arose regarding how the removal of the projects would affect the overall circulation plan. The Council subsequently voted 6-1 to keep the TIP intact but requested that the Planning Commission revisit the 37th Street projects during its annual Comprehensive Land Use Plan update next year. Council also included the caveat that no future action will be taken to initiate any projects along 37th prior to the Planning Commission review. For more information on the entire Six Year Transportation Improvement Program, please visit our website at www.CityofUP.com.
Public Safety – UP Police Chief Rusty Wilder also presented a third quarter public safety update regarding various crimes within our community. Although there is an overall drop in reported domestic violence incidents, theft of motor vehicles is up by 18%. Our community is also seeing a 79% increase in theft from motor vehicles as well as a 9% increase in burglaries. Citizens can help reduce these trends by not leaving items such as laptops, cell phones and purses in their cars. People are also urged to call 911 to report suspicious activities in their neighborhoods. On the positive side, incidents involving drug sales, identity theft and vandalism have gone down. Anyone interested in viewing the full report can go online at www.CityofUP.com.
Although Chief Wilder stressed that our officers will still respond to all calls, the response time for “non-active” calls will be greater due to the decrease in officers per shift. In 2009, we had 22 officers who responded to 17,726 calls for service or an average of 806 calls per officer. So far in 2010, our 15 officers have responded to 13,031 calls or an average of 869 calls each to date. The projected 2010 numbers are 19,929 calls for 15 officers which is an average of 1,329 calls per officer.
Council recently directed staff to dedicate all future property tax revenues to public safety within the proposed 2011-12 budget; however, our community will have to determine whether this level of police service is acceptable in the future.
Citizens’ Police Academy – Get an inside look at the UP Police Department through a Citizens’ Police Academy next spring. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department will present a free “UP Police Academy” featuring a jail tour, driving a police car and participating in a simulated “use of force” situation. The Academy will run for approximately 14 weeks and will enable citizens to get an in-depth look at police issues. Stay tuned for more information on registration.
Budget Open House – Thank you to everyone who turned out Tuesday night for the City’s Open House on the proposed 2011-12 Budget. After meeting with representatives from various City departments, residents viewed the premiere of “Budget 101” which is a brief television show designed to clarify the City’s budget, revenues and services. I would encourage everyone to watch the show on UPTV or view it online at www.CityofUP.com along with the Oct. 4 and 5 department presentations.
The budget process continues on Monday, November 1, when the Council discusses possible additions and deletions, followed by tentative budget adoption on Monday, November 15. Public comment is encouraged at both meetings.
Flood Control District – University Place, along with several other jurisdictions, spent several hours testifying before the Boundary Review Board regarding the proposed Pierce County Flood Control District boundaries. The BRB will now review the information and is expected to issue a decision by mid November. The City Council directed our City Attorney to object to our inclusion within the District since we are not directly affected by potential flooding identified in the plan. In addition, our Council also objected to the County’s proposal due to its lack of details regarding potential future charges that may be assessed against our citizens.
Fall Fun Day – Pumpkins, face painting, horse rides and of course, fire engines, are all part of the UP Fire Department’s annual Fall Fun Day on Saturday, October 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Parks Make A Difference Day – Have fun and help clean up local parks on Saturday, October 23 from 9 a.m. to noon. Bring work gloves, rakes, shovels and pruners to help out at Adriana Hess Wetland Park (2917 Morrison Road), as well as the “Morrison” natural area located on 67th Avenue directly across from the Fircrest Golf Course, and Brookside property on Brookside Way across from the Curran Orchard.
Fall Clean Up and Recycling – Residents living south of 40th Street may drop off yard waste, old appliances and other items at the UP Refuse annual clean-up event at 2815 Rochester Street West (behind Cheers West on 27th Street). Please contact UP Refuse directly at (253) 564-3212 for a list of allowed items to drop off. Also, please consider bringing a few canned food items to help replenish the UP Food Bank.
Finally, thank you to Lee Greenfield from Narrows Plaza Bowling Alley, which celebrated the City’s birthday in August by offering 15 cent bowling games. Mr. Greenfield presented proceeds from that event along with a commemorative bowling pin to UP Recreation representative Jennifer Robinson for future recreation and senior programs.
As always, I appreciate your comments and questions. Please feel free to contact me at dklosowski@CityofUP.com.