City Council Recap | July 7, 2020
Posted on 07/13/2020

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 watch the meeting video here. View past City Council roundups at newcastlewa.gov/councilrecaps.

COUNCIL APPROVES TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM

The Newcastle City Council unanimously approved the 2021-2026 Transportation Improvement Program, a six-year planning document that outlines the City’s future transportation projects. The TIP is a state-mandated guide that ensures cities plan ahead to carry out and coordinate transportation projects that benefit their communities.

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 annual budget adoption process. State law requires communities to annually update their TIPs.

This iteration of the TIP includes one new project added in 2026: Design for improvements at the intersection of Newcastle Way and 123rd Avenue Southeast. As for 2021, anticipated projects include designs on a project that would address traffic queuing concerns at Newcastle Elementary School and Southeast May Creek Park Drive non-motorized improvements.

During the previous meeting, the Council voted to allocate a placeholder of $1.25 million for a Coal Creek Parkway signalization project that could address concerns that arose when a privately-owned road adjacent to Coal Creek Marketplace was temporarily closed in February. Earlier this year, citizens expressed frustration when Hansen Bros. Moving & Storage, which owns the road, closed it due to damage on the roadway.

While many people assumed this is a publicly-owned street, the entire stretch between Coal Creek Parkway and 132nd Place Southeast is actually private and the property owner graciously allows public usage. That project does not fall in the six-year timeframe, but is instead listed in “future years” beyond 2026. The Council also voted to move a project to construct Newcastle entry monuments, which would likely happen in concert with the signalization project, from 2022-23 out to the “future years” category.

Capital projects like these are paid for with one-time capital revenues, such as grants and impact fees from new construction. These are not funded from the operating budget. The City’s general operating fund (police, parks, maintenance, etc.) does not have access to these capital revenues and is funded from totally separate revenues such as property tax and sales tax. Two separate pots of money: capital budget and operating budget.

View the approved TIP here.

COUNCIL REVIEWS PARKS/SURFACE WATER MANAGEMENT CAPITAL PROGRAMS

Public Works Director Jeff Brauns introduced drafts of the six-year Parks and Surface Water Management Capital Improvement Programs. Like the TIP, these documents serve as planning documents for the future and are annually updated.

Parks

Among the notable changes in the Parks CIP, a project to replace the fencing at the Historic Newcastle Cemetery has been moved from this year to 2022. This project would aim to update the fencing in an effort to increase public access to the cemetery. It was postponed since the City does not currently have a Parks Project Planner on staff to coordinate such improvements.

As for projects in 2021, funding is included to start work on the first project to come out of the Lake Boren Park Master Plan. The south shore expansion project would open up and develop underutilized areas of the park with the construction of a wetland boardwalk trail and a shoreline viewing area. The City applied for a Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) grant to fund this project. If successful, grants will be awarded next year.

There are also plans in 2021 to support DeLeo Wall preservation. The City applied for an RCO grant that could go toward acquisition of the Dalpay property, thus preserving the DeLeo Wall as permanent open space. If successful, this grant, along with others the City has received with the help of King County, would eliminate the need for City funding to go toward the property purchase. In other words, the funds to pay for this project would come from alternate funding sources (i.e. grants), not the City budget.

As for notable SWM projects, the scope of the Railroad Embankment Project has expanded considerably following consultation with regulatory agencies. The Newcastle Railroad Embankment was constructed as part of the railroad line which transported coal from Newcastle to Seattle during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Newport Hills Creek flows under the embankment in a long culvert. A vertical pipe, called a standpipe, was attached to the upstream end of the culvert at least 40 to 50 years ago. The standpipe is not functioning properly, which is causing the pond level to increase. If the embankment were to breach or fail, the water would travel for 800 feet downstream to May Creek, and then for another 2.5 miles before it reaches Lake Washington. Learn more about this project here.

View draft Parks CIP here and the SWM CIP here.

GENERAL UPDATES

- The City Council also approved the adoption of some code amendments that are expected to make permit review more efficient for staff and less complicated for applicants.

- The Surface Water Management team gave an overview of its department and shared the results of a community survey regarding surface water behaviors in a presentation to Council.

- You can read the latest updates from the City Manager in his regular report here.

- Planning Commission Chair Charlie Gadzik shared the Commission's current work in a written report here. Of note, the Commission is finalizing the details on an ordinance regulating short-term rentals.

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 starting at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted. You can also email your thoughts to Councilmembers at citycouncil@newcastlewa.gov.

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