Council agrees to hold Aug. 5 hearing on street renaming, listens to concerns about off-leash dogs

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Will Van Ry

The Mountlake Terrace City Council agreed earlier this week to hold a public hearing Aug. 5 on a proposal to name the current Gateway Boulevard after long-time city employee Will Van Ry, who retired in 2014 after nearly 40 years with the city.

City engineer Jesse Birchman explained that Gateway Boulevard is now a private road, but in the future it will become a public roadway connecting 244th Street Southwest and 236th Street Southwest through the Freeway/Tourist District.

According to a city memo, the city council has expressed a desire to honor Van Ry “in recognition of his substantial efforts, dedication to the city’s constituents, and demonstration of the city’s core values.” The roadway dedication is planned to occur by the end of 2020.

Birchman noted that all current businesses along Gateway Boulevard now have a 244th Street Southwest address, so their business addresses will be changing anyway once the roadway becomes a public street. Councilmember Seaun Richards requested that city staff personally provide advance notice to business owners along the road as a courtesy prior to the public hearing, so they have a chance to weigh in on the idea. Councilmember Bryan Wahl agreed the city needed to do its “due diligence” by making sure both the businesses in the area and their customers know about the change.

Van Ry began with Mountlake Terrace as an engineering aide in 1974, advanced to city engineer in 1995, and was named engineering services director in 2003. Throughout his tenure, Van Ry worked on numerous city projects and planning efforts, including the water reservoir and seismic retrofit, Cedargrove Sewer Pump Station reconstruction, 220th Street reconstruction, Gateway Intersection design and coordination, and Traffic Calming Program. Van Ry has also returned as a temporary employee supporting engineering projects on multiple occasions since his retirement, including several months to help meet a critical deadline for Main Street Revitalization Project –Phase 1 construction.

In other business, the council heard from two citizens expressing concerns about dog owners who are violating city municipal code by allowing their dogs off-leash in city parks and on school grounds.

Mickey Schwald, a 58-year Mountlake Terrace resident, noted that under the city’s municipal code, having your dog off leash carries a $200 fine. “What can we as citizens do to solve this problem?” she asked, then suggested that perhaps the city should add language to current signs that those violating the city’s leash law will be prosecuted.

Mountlake Terrace resident Joni Hafner said she and her husband moved to the city four years ago and they love to walk and enjoy the parks with their two children, ages 3 1/2 and 5 1/2. But as a mother, Hafner said, she worries about safety of her children given the number of dogs who are off leash on local park trails

Mountlake Terrace Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright thanked Schwald and Hafner for their comments, and said that City Manager Scott Hugill would talk with the city attorney and code enforcement about next steps to address their concerns.

Finally, the council heard from Mountlake Terrace Department Directors who reported on performance measures for the first half of 2019. The measures monitor progress and achievements of goals and milestones.

These included:

Recreation and Parks: The department reported 248 rentals compared to 310 rentals in all of 2018. Swim lesson capacity is up 3% over 2018 with 29,687 lessons taught by midyear. Daily attendance for recreation programs is 840 for the first half of 2019 compared to 892 for all of 2018 with heaviest attendance in the summer.

Community and Economic Development: In addition to working on Sound Transit’s Light Rail, plan review for the Civic Campus Project, as well as updates to the Town Center Plan and construction of Atlas 236, there were 1,620 building inspections during the first six months of 2019, compared to 2,574 for all of 2018. There were also 498 electrical inspections in the past six months compared to 799 in all of 2018. Code violations were up significantly, with 94 cases opened compared to 49 in 2018.  Fifty-four new businesses opened in the first half of 2019, compared to 49 in 2018.

Public Works: The department did 1,500 locates for city-owned utilities, ramped up water backflow inspections to help keep the water systems clean, and handled a large water main break on the county line in January. The cost of that water main break and associated street repair was about $60,000, demonstrating the need to replace aging infrastructure along with preventive maintenance.

City Clerk/Community Relations: The city conducted seven open houses in the first half of 2019 as many large projects have reached the implementation stage. The Planning Commission held 10 meetings on the Town Center Subarea Plan update with a few more to go. One of the larger projects was the completion of the city’s website redesign one year earlier than originally scheduled to help with the city’s economic development initiatives.

— By Teresa Wippel

 

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