Mark Eliasen called the meeting to order.
Nydia White of Meow Cat Rescue http://www.meowcatrescue.org was our first guest. Meow is located near the PCC store on NE 68th St. in Houghton. It is a "no kill" shelter that accepts dogs and cats for adoption or temporary foster care. Animals adopted from Meow can be returned if they do not work out. Meow has volunteer opportunities and is always in need of donations.
Luanne Erikson, of Howard Mandville Gallery http://www.howardmandville.com briefed us on that business as part of our new focus on neighborhood businesses. The gallery, located at 120 Park Lane, is family owned and the owners have taken an active role in the community. Custom framing services are offered – they can frame virtually anything. Wine tasting is often part of the shows at the gallery.
Dave Ramsay, Kirkland's City Manager, give his farewell "Walk Around Kirkland". Dave will be retiring in early April after 12.5 years on the job. Dave mentioned that annexation is set to happen in June 2011 and transition issues are being addressed. More police officers will be needed and that process has been started (it takes 18 months to get new officers fully trained and up to speed). The annexation area is served by three fire departments, two utility companies, and two garbage haulers -- a confusing situation that needs to be addressed. Dave said that difficult financial times have impacted the City's ability to make all the changes that are needed.
Totem Lake is the geographic center of the city. Dave mentioned that Evergreen Hospital has expanded and is working well. Unfortunately, Totem Lake Mall is not working, is for sale, and the partners are suing each other. Dave hopes that a local buyer with commitment to the area will step up.
Juanita make-over: Juanita Beach Park has been upgraded and looks much better than it has in years. At Juanita Bay Park, the news is that the Audubon Society is taking over the rangers program. Juanita Village doing well and Phase III of the build-out will start soon.
The abandoned Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad line through Kirkland was Dave's next topic. The Port of Seattle has purchased the right of way and together with King County getting a deal done to establish ownership of various sections of the line. None of the property is owned by the City of Kirkland. Kirkland will participate in the regional process to determine the best use of the line. Community involvement is requested. Visit the City's Eastside Rail Corridor Web Page.
Dog Park, or lack of one, was Dave's next issue. The challenge is finding a site due to the NIMBY factor. Neighbors even fought the former Houghton landfill location. Dave wondered "If not at a landfill, where?".
Dave shifted to the Downtown area. The Bank of American building is taking shape. The McLeod (Hector's) project, a series of 2-3 story buildings, is underway. We have renderings of the Hector's project here. The Heathman Hotel employees have adopted Heritage Park and are doing a great job keeping it neat and clean. Dave thinks business – community partnerships such as this are important.
The Park Lane improvement plan has been approved. There will be rubberized sidewalks and a festive theme. The lane will be made pedestrian-only at times.
Park Place--construction is on hold pending financing and the outcome of litigation. The plan is for the existing center will be scrapped and re-built.
Google campus – The City hopes they expand into all buildings.
Rose Hill Meadow Park (south of Safeway) turned out great and NE 85th corridor improvement project is under construction and will be completed this fall (2010). This "extreme makeover" will feature sidewalk improvements, undergrounding of utilities, and medians in places on 85th. There are 90 properties affected by the project.
The Costco gas station has been approved and Dave is not sure why Costco has not built it.
Transit Center should be completed this fall and there is new public pay parking at the antique mall site.
Sales tax increased year over year in February for the first time in 14 months
Dave Ramsays “next phase” after retiring will consist of consulting and non-profit work. Dave will continue to live in Kirkland. Dave’s advice to citizens of Kirkland “Balance expectations against resources”. He also gave some advice to his successor:
The goal is have someone on board in June
Doug Engle of GNP Railway http://gnprail.com gave a PowerPoint presentation on his company's proposal to run trains on the Eastside rail corridor. Doug is partners with Chief Operating Officer Tom Payne, founder of the highly successful Central Western Railroad in Canada. GNP Railway was the winning bidder to run rail services on the abandoned BNSF rail corridor between Snohomish and Bellevue. Freight service is now running
GNP proposes running passenger service between Snohomish and Bellevue utilizing DMUs (Diesel Multiple Units). The rail bed would be upgraded in place by a special train designed for this purpose, a process that would be much cheaper than a new rail line. $400 million would be required to upgrade to passenger service. Doug mentioned that he hopes that the Kirkland City Council comes out if favor of this proposal. He mentioned that some people are opposed.
Gail Gorud, a U.S. Census worker, told us about the 2010 Census and how an accurate count is important to the area and the country. Temporary jobs are available doing census work. If interested contact Gail at (425) 827-5273 firstname.lastname@example.org Or, the Bellevue office for the 2010 Census is (425) 749-5090. Nationwide, Census applicants can call 866-861-2010
Our next meeting will be May 17, 2010 7PM at Heritage Hall, 203 Market. St.