By Debbie Klosowski, Mayor, City of University Place
Pouring sidewalks, striping parking stalls and painting the interior garage kept crews busy in preparation for the grand opening of the University Place Library this Saturday, February 12, from noon to 5 p.m.
This week, U.P. City Manager Steve Sugg provided a progress update on the new Civic Building. Painting is underway on the 270-stall garage to enhance visibility and safety. Crews are striping stalls to provide 80 usable spaces for Saturday’s event with work on the remaining garage space set for completion later this spring. An interim gravel parking lot just south of the building’s main entrance will also be available for visitors.
Earlier this week, crews poured concrete walkways along with a tiled entryway leading into the atrium. Mr. Sugg also recognized Public Works Director Gary Cooper who designed and built an extremely attractive fireplace grate for the atrium fireplace on his own time, saving the City a substantial amount of money.
Library staff are also hard at work, setting up computer stations and putting last minute touches on the new Library. Thanks to the extremely generous donations of Library patrons, our residents will soon enjoy an incredible facility. Equally important is the fact that our Library will act as the heart of our Town Center, drawing hundreds of people daily to our downtown. Our City started this project several years ago and the opening of the Library is only the beginning of a long awaited dream for our community. Please join us at the grand opening…this is one event you won’t want to miss!
In other Town Center news, City Attorney Steve Victor reported that Applebee’s Restaurant has deposited earnest money and is finalizing site plan and design details with our Planning Department. Applebee’s, which is our first private sector partner in Town Center, is slated to open this year.
2011 State of the City
During the spring of each year, the City Council presents a “State of the City” to the community. Some of the highlights included:
* Making significant financial adjustments in response to the national economic decline
* Maintaining a balanced budget, meeting all of our financial obligations, and developing a long term financial strategy to ensure we will have sufficient resources to meet future obligations
* Increasing our strategic reserve fund
* Continue emphasis on growing existing businesses and attracting new business to increase sales tax revenues to pay for essential services in the future
* Adding a police investigator
* Obtaining grants to construct sidewalks around schools
* Identifying a need for additional resources to maintain acceptable road conditions
* Recognizing community support to sustain recreation programs
* Redesigning the City website
* Addressing Federal and State mandates via land use, shoreline and zoning regulations
For more detailed information, please visit www.CityofUP.com to view or read the State of the City presentation or watch it on UPTV.
Flood Control Insurance – Protecting fish habitat while ensuring residents’ ability to obtain flood insurance are among the issues facing the City’s Planning Commission this year.
In 1968, the National Flood Insurance Program was created to offer disaster assistance for properties subject to flood damage. People who want to obtain insurance can only do so if their local government incorporates NFIP standards.
Since that time, FEMA was sued by the National Marine Fisheries Service for failure to address issues involving the Endangered Species Act, primarily impacts to critical habitats involving salmon, killer whales and other species. This week, John Graves, a senior National Flood Insurance specialist, appeared before Council, outlining various options for consideration. It appears revising our current ordinance is the best option for our community. Regulations would affect residents living on Day Island, Sunset Beach and near certain streams who are considering new construction, major remodels and bulkheads. For more information, please contact Development Services Director David Swindale.
Friend UP! – Get the latest scoop on parks and recreation by “friending” our Recreation Department! Due to budget cutbacks and a desire to go “green,” our Recreation Department launched a Facebook site this week to inform people about recreation programs and schedules. Check it out by visiting www.CityofUP.com.
In other action, the Council:
Authorized a $5,250 contract to Hewitt Architecture Inc. for construction administration services for the Intermodal Transit Facility which will include tasks such as reviewing change orders and verifying that materials meet architectural specifications.
Discussed the Commission appointment process including increasing the timeline for notifying the public about upcoming vacancies. By starting efforts in early fall, interested people will have more time to consider serving on commissions as well as attending required meetings. This proposal, along with other housekeeping measures, will be considered by Council at a future meeting.
Survey Update – A recent community survey indicated most people are extremely pleased with the condition of our streets; however, several people had questions about the City’s street sweeping schedule. Several years ago, the City swept arterial streets once a month and residential streets four times a year. Due to budget cuts reducing the public works crew from 10.5 full time employees to six, arterial streets are now swept ten times a year with one residential street sweeping per year.
Park Rental Rates – Rental fees for picnic shelters, the Orchard bandshell and playing fields will increase slightly under a proposal to recover costs for maintenance, supplies and general wear and tear. The Council will discuss this issue further at a future meeting.
Speak UP – This past week, Council hosted two neighborhood meetings to discuss City issues and meet with residents. Two additional neighborhood meetings are scheduled on Thursday, March 3 and Wednesday, March 23. For more information, please contact 460-2500 or visit our website at www.CityofUP.com.
Congratulations to the Playground by the Sound Committee (led by former Mayor Linda Bird and webmaster John Bird) who successfully obtained $60,000 for the future playground, with the help of countless dedicated online voters! A successful collaboration with several local groups also netted the following grants for our community:
* Pierce County Library Foundation ($25,000)
* U.P. Volunteer Center ($5,000)
* U.P. Parks and Recreation Scholarships ($5,000)
Yet another outstanding example of what can happen when people work together in University Place! Volunteers and in-kind donations are still needed for the playground project which is slated for construction this fall. For more information, please visit www.playgroundbythesound.org.
As always, I welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to contact me at dklosowski@CityofUP.com.