July 16, 2019 | Transportation Plan, Parks Projects and More
Posted on 07/18/2019

The Newcastle City Council roundups offer a digest of notable items for those who can't make it to the regular meetings. View the meeting agenda packet here. and listen to the audio here. View past City Council roundups at newcastlewa.gov/councilrecaps.

COUNCIL DISCUSSES CAPITAL PROJECTS

The City Council reviewed the first draft of a 2020 budget for parks capital projects. Next year’s preliminary project list includes money for improvements at Lake Boren Park and the Historic Newcastle Cemetery, as well as funds that would facilitate efforts to acquire the threatened DeLeo Wall property.

De Leo Wall Property Preservation

Community members have been vocal in urging City leaders to protect an area known as the DeLeo Wall from logging and development. Last year, the Department of Natural Resources approved an application to clear-cut 28 acres of trees on the Dalpay property located in the southeast corner of Newcastle.

The City immediately appealed the decision in an effort to delay the logging and pursue opportunities to preserve the area as open space. As previously announced, the King County Conservation Futures Advisory Committee recommended awarding the City a $450,000 matching grant to support those efforts. However, nothing is final until the King County Council approves the recommendations and the Newcastle City Council has yet to approve matching funds for this project.

As they reviewed the 2020 parks budget, Councilmembers had the opportunity to offer feedback and make motions changing the project list. One motion suggested the City remove the DeLeo Wall preservation project entirely, while other motions sought to expedite a project to acquire property for a west side park. All motions failed to secure a majority vote required for passage. 

Lake Boren Park Master Plan Implementation

After Newcastle came up just short in the grant process to acquire funding for Lake Boren Park Master Plan implementation, the City is considering alternatives on how to proceed. The City applied for a matching grant through the state Recreation and Conservation Office, but the project to construct a Lake Boren boardwalk fell just below the threshold for available funding this year.

The proposed 2020 budget carries forward the unused matching funds from 2019 and suggests splitting the boardwalk into phases, with construction for the western portion scheduled for next year. The City would continue its aggressive pursuit of grant funding to implement the community’s vision for Lake Boren Park. Learn more about the boardwalk project here.

The parks project list is not finalized until City Council budget adoption later this year. View the preliminary 2020 parks capital budget here.

Transportation Improvement Program

The City Council also reviewed the 2020-2025 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), a state-mandated guide that ensures municipalities plan ahead to carry out and coordinate transportation projects that benefit their communities.

During the July 2 meeting, the City Council got its first look at the TIP draft, which includes two project additions. The first one would bring non-motorized improvements to Southeast May Creek Park Drive from 117th Avenue Southeast to 121st Avenue Southeast in 2024. The second one is a 136th Avenue Southeast widening project that would address traffic concerns at Newcastle Elementary School in 2021. Staff implemented interim striping improvements at the site earlier this year and they will continue to evaluate the performance and effectiveness of the new lane configuration when classes resume in the fall.

As a planning document, the TIP doesn’t commit the City to fund any particular project. Projects must be authorized through the City’s normal budget adoption process. The City Council approved one change to the document, delaying a proposed bus shelter improvement project to 2022. However, they did not adopt the updated TIP document as a whole. State law requires communities annually update their TIPs, so it must go before the City Council again at a future meeting. View the draft TIP here and learn more about the changes and additions on the plan here.

As staff noted during the discussions about parks and transportation plans, the financing for these projects has no impact on the fiscal sustainability challenges facing the City. The funds used to pay for these projects are all separate from the City’s operating budget, where a forecasted structural deficit exists due to increasing public safety costs and decreasing development revenues.

GENERAL UPDATES

— The City Council offered feedback on proposed code amendments to implement a 2018 Council-adopted policy that allows boutique hotels in the City's limited open space zoning district, located at the golf club. The draft amendments include provisions regulating a hotel’s size, length of stay, layout and more. Learn more here.

— The City Council honored longtime Planning Commissioner Karin Frost Blakley, who is stepping down from the advisory board after nearly a decade of service. View the proclamation recognizing her contributions to Newcastle here.

— The City Council re-appointed Community Activities Commissioners Diane Lewis, Tony Ventrella and Ed Flash and Planning Commissioner Stacy Lynch. They also appointed Scott Maresh as the Planning Commission’s newest member.

— The City Council approved an ordinance that modifies developer requirements for rideshare, short-term and shopping plaza parking. Learn more here.

The Newcastle City Council wants to hear from you! Members of the public are invited to share thoughts during public hearings or two open public comment periods at meetings. Regular meetings of the City Council occur on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at City Hall, starting at 7 p.m. You can also email your thoughts to Councilmembers. To send a message to the entire Council, email citycouncil@newcastlewa.gov. You can also email them individually (view all Councilmember emails here).  

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