News

Council faces hot topics in 2005

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

What's hot and what's not? Elections, City Hall and some surprises to bring in 2005.

A few of the certainties of 2005 will include an election for mayor and three council seats in November. The new Bonney Lake High School will open in September. It is likely homes will continue to be built, people will keep moving to the area and traffic will get worse.

Beyond that, it's anybody's guess what the new year will bring.

"It's going to be a great year for Bonney Lake," Mayor Bob Young said. "We are getting ready to open our new high school which will have a huge impact on our community. Bonney Lake will grow up this year. The high school will bring an identity Bonney Lake has never had."

Young said the directions and funding for a new City Hall, trails and sidewalks will be at the top of list for the City Council for the first couple of months.

The mayor predicted increased expansion in the coming year on the east side of Bonney Lake between 214th Avenue East and 234th Avenue East.

"Home Depot will be going in behind Rite-Aid again," Young said. "They fooled around and re-engineered the site and realized that was still the best spot for them. Once that kicks off some of the big stores will make final decisions."

According to Young, Wal-Mart is expanding to a "super" Wal-Mart, which will include groceries.

Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman said 2005 will see a sidewalk plan at the top of the council's list.

"We have a bunch of sidewalks that are not connected around Bonney Lake," Swatman said. "We need to have someone take a look at the city and propose how to best get this done."

The Washington State University Demonstration Forest will be a very hot topic this year, according to Swatman.

The 147-acre forest is being deeded back to Weyerhaeuser by WSU after 62 years. WSU has no further plans to use the forest, located on state Route 410 between Fred Meyer and Albertsons, for educational purposes.

Weyerhaeuser, through its subsidiary, Quadrant Homes, plans to rezone and develop the property.

"Quadrant and Weyerhaeuser want to submit a plan," Swatman said. "If they don't hold public meetings and get public support we won't go forward with the project. The public needs to recognize a value to what they want to do."

A new City Hall is another item where Swatman sees controversy brewing.

"I contend the site next to Target is a really bad place," Swatman said. "I think it should be in the central business center. That's where we should invest our money."

Councilman Jim Rackley will propose leasing space from the Rainier Plaza building on state Route 410 next to Wendy's.

"We need about 20,000 square feet to start, about two or three floors," Rackley said. "Rainier Plaza is still a brand new building and we don't have to go out for bonds to get it."

Councilman Neil Johnson feels the new City Hall could be a political sticking point this year.

"I don't see a lot getting done from the aspect of this administration," Johnson said. "I think developing parks and sidewalks connecting the city to each neighborhood are No. 1 items. Time is wasting, but I see a very strange year approaching. It's an election year and when all is said and done I'm afraid not much will get accomplished. I hope we can, but my gut feeling tells me not much. City Hall will determine what will get done. That will be a tell-all sign. I think City Hall will hold hostage other things getting done."

Councilman Dave King sees road work ahead for the city as major developments around the area break ground.

"Transportation will be one of the key issues," King said. "Plans with the county, Cascadia and Falling Water will be the biggest deal of the year."

Council members up for election in November are Johnson, King and Swatman. All three have stated they will decide their political future later in the year.

Young has not officially declared he is running for a third term, but all indications are pointing toward another campaign.

"I probably won't officially declare for several months," Young said. "But there is nothing stopping me from running right now."

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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