By Debbie Klosowski, Mayor, City of University Place
Encouraging new businesses to locate within University Place was among the topics at this week’s University Place City Council meeting.
Traffic Impact Fee Revision – Several years ago, the City Council enacted a traffic impact fee requiring certain residential and commercial developers to help pay for the impacts of additional traffic on our roads. The ordinance also included a provision to waive this fee if a commercial business with comparable traffic impacts to the prior tenant leased a building that was vacant for up to four years. This week, the council extended this vacancy waiver to six years to further assist landlords who are having difficulty leasing space due to the national economic crisis. Increasing flexibility in other regulations is also under review by the Planning Commission and the Economic Development Commission.
Asarco Smelter Plume Clean Up – Replacing contaminated soil at several city parks is the primary remediation effort presented by the Department of Ecology (DOE) this week. While arsenic and lead have been found in a 200 square mile area, the DOE is currently focusing cleanup efforts on area parks and playgrounds. During testing last year, the DOE found arsenic levels above state standards at three play areas within the Curran Apple Orchard, Sunset Terrace and Colegate parks. Although contamination was also found at Morrison, Homestead and Cirque Bridgeport parks, all of those areas were out of the designated play area and therefore not a priority at this time.
Using cleanup funds from the Asarco settlement, DOE will remove soil in the “amphitheater” hillside in the orchard this fall along with soil from Sunset Terrace followed by reseeding of both areas. Bark and play chips will be added to the Colegate park area along with signage in all parks encouraging people to take precautions such as washing their hands and removing dusty boots or shoes before entering homes. For more information, please contact Amy Hargrove at DOE at 360.407.6262 or visit www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/sites/tacoma smelter/ts hp.htm.
Home gardens are still safe, according to the DOE and Health Department; however, people should still peel and wash fruits and vegetables before eating. U.P. residents interested in obtaining free testing of soil samples from their homes can also contact the Health Department at 253.798.3503.
In other action…
*Public Works and Parks Director Gary Cooper reported that the February snow event cost $32,332 including 361 hours of labor (72 of which were used to sweep up sand). During the December and February events, the crews used 9,000 gallons of deicer, 140 tons of sand/salt mix and several spare mechanical parts which will cost approximately $20,000 to replace.
*Recognized the Pierce County Reads program which encourages residents to read and attend events centered on “The Big Burn, Teddy Roosevelt & the Fire That Saved America” by Pulitzer Prize winning author Timothy Egan. Book discussions, disaster planning and stories about Mount Rainier are among the topics scheduled through April. The U.P. Library is featuring “Mountain Fever” stories of the first two Mt. Rainier climbs on Saturday, April 16, at 2 p.m. and a “Big Burn” book discussion on Thursday, April 21, at 7 p.m. Author Timothy Egan will also speak at a free presentation at Clover Park Technical College on Saturday, April 30 at 7 p.m.For more information, please contact www.piercecountylibrary.org search site: READS. Nonperishable food items for the Emergency Food Network will also be collected at all events.
*Business Survey – All U.P. businesses will receive a business survey in late March regarding current and future city services, according to Deputy City Manager Mariza Craig. Several stakeholder groups will also be interviewed by the Economic Development Commission to obtain additional information about improving the future business climate in University Place.
*Congratulations to the Curtis High School Vikings Boys Basketball Team on their outstanding season which led to a second place finish in the Washington State Championship Game. Thanks to the team, their coaches and families for an exciting season!
*Volunteers of the Year!
Tacoma News Tribune Columnist Kathleen Merryman praised the efforts of hundreds of U.P. volunteers Thursday night, thanking them for providing the template to other communities to proceed with projects to make their communities better places to live.
The U.P. Volunteer Center, which sponsored the annual dinner, presented the following awards:
Volunteer Youth of the Year – Robbie Jordan for his involvement in the U.P. Youth Council, Jr. Leader Program for summer recreation programs along with his service as a U.P. Parks Commissioner.
Volunteer of the Year – Jim Baldes for creating the nonprofit U.P. Community Supported Parks and Recreation group which raised $74,000 for youth and senior recreation programs along with his service as Chair of the U.P. Parks Commission.
Volunteer Organization of the Year – Playground by the Sound (accepted by Jon Bird and Linda Bird) for spearheading a community campaign to raise funds via the Pepsi Refresh contest for the future Playground by the Sound along with creating partnership opportunities resulting in additional funding for the U.P. Library, U.P. Volunteer Center and U.P. Recreation scholarships. (Note: Construction of Playground by the Sound is slated for Sept. 20 -25, 2011).
Diana Harmon Lifetime Achievement Award – Cindy Bonaro for her ongoing commitment to our city via activities such as supporting Chamber of Commerce activities, U.P. Farmer’s Market, UP for Art, U.P. Historical Society, CHIPs, the Duck Parade, U.P. Sustainability Committee and the U.P. Library.
On behalf of the City Council, I would like to extend my congratulations and thanks to EVERYONE who volunteered their time, talents and money to help make our community a better place. Thank you all for everything that you do all year long!
Soggy Doggies – Help maintain the off leash dog park AND get a clean doggy during a fundraiser from March 24th through March 28th. SUNDogs is partnering with Soggy Doggy Self Serve Dog Wash (7518 -40th St West) to raise money to help maintain the dog park near the Central Meadow of the Pierce County Chambers Creek Properties. A portion of all dog wash proceeds will go to the park. For more information, please visit www.updogpark.org or call 565.1501.
Bowl for Parks & Rec on Friday, March 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. U.P. Community Supported Parks & Recreation is sponsoring this event at the Narrows Plaza Bowl (2200 Mildred St. West) to raise funds for youth and senior programs. Tickets are $25 per person which includes two hours of bowling and rental shoes. Entertainment by “Rock and Roll Magic” is also available from 8 p.m. to midnight. For more information, contact 564.6373.
Spirit of Democracy Contest!
Share an inspiring quote and help decorate Ballot Drop boxes in a contest sponsored by the Pierce County Auditor’s office. The Auditor’s office recently installed a new ballot drop off box in front of the Public Safety Building at 3631 Drexler Drive W.The contest is meant to recognize inspirational quotes about voting rights and citizenship. The winning entry will appear on the ballot box before the August primary.
Contest rules are:
*Limit of 20 words (not including author)
*Must be non -partisan and historically significant
*Must be properly attributed to the author
*Quotes should not be created by the contestant but should come from historical or contemporary public figures that embody democratic principles.
Entries from U.P. residents should be sent to Spirit of Democracy, c/o University Place City Hall, 3715 Bridgeport Way West, University Place 98466. Winning entry will be recognized in a future city newsletter and proclamation. All entries are due by Tuesday, May 31.
For more information, please contact Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson at 798.3188 or Julie.Anderson@co.pierce.wa.us.
As always, I appreciate your comments and questions. Please feel free to contact me at dklosowski@CityofUP.com.