By Debbie Klosowski, Mayor, City of University Place
University Place residents are extremely pleased with our police department and believe our neighborhoods and business areas are safe, based on results from our 2010 Community Survey. This week, the City Council received a preliminary report of the survey results from Dr. Renee Houston of Sound Communications. During the past few years, the City has periodically conducted a “baseline” survey to gauge residents’ perceptions of City issues and services.
Citizens received an opportunity to participate in the survey last year via an insert in the City newsletter which is sent to all homes. There were 556 “usable” surveys which resulted in a confidence rate of +-4% which is very acceptable for survey projects according to Dr. Houston. Some of the survey highlights included:
* Parks and Recreation – Over 75% of the respondents took advantage of parks and recreation programs with approximately one-third visiting parks once a month or more. Most citizens also gave high ratings to park appearances.
* Streets and Roads – A majority (87%) were very pleased with the current condition of streets and roads.
* Garbage collection and recycling also received high ratings; however, there were several requests for glass recycling and other services.
* Over 92% feel neighborhoods are safe and over 94% believe business areas are safe.
* Over 80% indicated sustainability, energy, environmental health and natural resources, transportation and community vitality are important.
* A slight drop (15%) was noted in residents’ perceptions regarding the quality of recreational programs offered.
* A similar drop (15%)was indicated in citizens’ perceptions about City efforts to keep them informed about issues.
* City Council responsiveness – About 29% agreed that the Council is responsive and 25% disagreed, and a large number of residents (46%) were unable to respond.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to the survey. The entire survey, along with citizen responses and additional comments, is available online at www.CityofUP.com. Funding for the survey, along with future focus group meetings, was made possible by a grant from the National Center for Civic Innovation. Follow-up steps on survey results will be discussed at a future Council meeting.
Community Gift – Due to declining revenues, a small group of citizens stepped up two years ago to help raise funds for recreation programs and scholarships for youth, adults and seniors. Thanks to their efforts, the City received a check for $74,000 this week to help support our recreation programs. Local businesswoman Dixie Harris, UP Parks Commissioner Greg Gooch and UP Park Commission Chair Jim Baldes presented the check while acknowledging the assistance of the UP Volunteer Center, local businesses and individuals. This is an outstanding example of how UP residents get involved to make our community a better place. Thank you so much to everyone who helped make this generous donation a reality.
Enabling people to make direct donations to specific recreation programs and parks also led Jim Baldes to create a nonprofit 501c3 called “University Place Community Supported Parks & Recreation”. Individuals, groups and businesses can receive tax deductions while supporting their favorite programs and parks. Two related fundraising events include Pizza for Parks & Recreation at Round Table Pizza (7011 27th St. West) on Tuesday, January 25, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. A portion of pizza sales (in house, take out or delivery) will go toward the UPCSPR projects. If you’re interested in a more elegant evening, join us at the first annual Black Tie Ball & Auction on Friday, Feb. 4, at 5 p.m. at the Fircrest Golf Club. Tickets are $100 per person or a table of 10 for $1,000. Enjoy live music, dinner and a no-host bar. Must be 21 years or older. Tickets are available at the Recreation Office or by contacting Dixie Harris at 564-6373.
Other topics at this week’s Council meeting included:
U.P. School Superintendent Patti Banks provided information on School District projects such as the Auditorium and Aquatic Center along with a brief update on school/city partnerships including:
* School Resource Officer who enhances student safety along with providing invaluable assistance on community issues;
* Use of school facilities, gyms and fields to help make our recreation programs possible; and,
* Voter approved construction projects resulting in thousands of dollars in revenue to the City from permit fees and sales taxes, as well as paying for certain sidewalks and landscape improvements. The U.P. School District is the largest employer in our community with many of our residents working throughout the District. Superintendent Banks also clarified the district’s policy regarding out of District students. The District is able to accept out of District students since schools are not at capacity at this time. An increased number of students also enables the District to offer additional classes, which benefits the overall student population.
New U.P. Police Station – The Council approved a $52,692 contract amendment with Helix Design Group to proceed with the final design and bid documents for the new University Place Police Station which will be located along Drexler Drive, immediately below the new Library. The project should go to bid in late February and be under construction this year with an estimated move-in date in late summer. The Pierce County Fire District is buying out the City’s share of the current Public Safety Building due to its increasing need for space. The City will use the proceeds to pay for the construction of the new station.
40th Street Sidewalks – It will be a safer for students walking to Evergreen, Narrows View and Curtis next fall thanks to another Safe Routes to School Grant obtained by City staff. Under the grant, sidewalks, bike lanes and streetlights will be constructed on the south side of the street between Sunset and 67th starting this February, with completion slated for early summer. Final bid award is slated for next week’s Council meeting. Under grant conditions, the project must be billed out by June. Consequently will work with the School District and construction crew to minimize traffic impacts as much as possible.
Flood Control Regulations – In 1968, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created to offer disaster assistance for properties subject to flood damage.
Individual property owners who wish to obtain this insurance can only do so if their local government agrees to regulate development in floodplains in accordance with NFIP criteria. This assistance is funded by insurance premiums, not tax dollars.
In September 2008, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) successfully sued the Federal Emergency Management Agency which administers the flood insurance program for its failure to address issues involving endangered species…primarily focusing on impacts to critical habitats affecting salmon, killer whales and other species. In order to meet the new requirements, the NFIP is requiring local governments to adopt one of three options in order to maintain their NFIP approval status:
* Prohibit all development in the floodway and other designated areas
* Enact regulations that allow development that meets specified criteria by either adopting a model ordinance OR enforcing the same requirements in existing ordinances
* Placing the burden on individual owners to obtain federal permits
The federal deadline for complying with the new regulations is September 22, 2011.
As a result, our Planning Commission will meeting in the near future to modify our existing ordinances so that approximately 400 property owners in University Place, including those who live near streams or on Day Island, still have the opportunity to obtain flood insurance if they choose to do so. For more information, please contact David Swindale.
Commercial/Residential Projects – Curious about a commercial or residential project in your area? Visit the City’s website to get up-to-date status on commercial and residential projects throughout the community. Assistant City Manager Mariza Craig and Development Services Director David Swindale provided a brief update on various projects, including the Sunset Bible Church, residential projects and the Pierce County Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion. The County is also continuing work on the sewer tunnel project along 64th Street which involves drilling down 100 feet below the surface to install a liner within a two mile long deteriorating sewer tunnel. Ms. Craig also announced several new businesses including Vision Quest (health club at 19th and Mildred) and a future “Payless Shoe” store in the Green Firs Shopping Center.
Santa’s Helpers – Mayor Pro Tem Ken Grassi, along with volunteers Lorna Smith, Elmer Smith, Denice Anderson, Kathy Makenas, Judy Veliz, Barbie Lampman and Karen and Bob Schwartz helped transform the Council Chambers and City rooms into a festive winter wonderland for our annual Tree Lighting Ceremony last month.
Senior Center – Recreation Supervisor Jennifer Robinson also thanked Jaynie Jones of the Bridgeport Place Retirement Community for the organization’s ongoing support, fundraising efforts and donations of countless items to support the day-to-day activities at the Senior Center.
Operation Baby Shower – Help support local military families by donating baby items to Operation Baby Shower. Last year, more than 18,000 troops returned to Joint Base Lewis McChord along with their families, including more than 800 babies. The U.P. Fire Department is teaming up with the Lakewood Fire Department to provide baby items such as: gift cards, diaper pails, photo albums, lullaby cds, infant toys/books/pacifiers, “Onesies,” rubber duckies, bibs, sippy cups, booties, socks and hats. Drop off items at the U.P. Fire Station at 3631 Drexler Drive through Feb. 11. For more information, call 584-1212.
Home Stretch…Don’t forget to vote every day online for the Playground by the Sound project. Visit www.refreshup.org.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
Please feel free to contact me at dklosowski@CityofUP.com.