Enumclaw’s Planning Commission is recommending the city council place a downtown park elsewhere than a downtown parking lot. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Enumclaw’s Planning Commission is recommending the city council place a downtown park elsewhere than a downtown parking lot. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Council hears opposition to park site, loss of downtown parking

“Without fail, everyone was against removing any parking.”

Conducting some required year-end business, members of the Enumclaw City Council hosted a trio of public hearings the evening of Nov. 12. Only one generated any public interest.

At issue were a series of amendments to the city’s comprehensive plan, including one that would add a downtown park to city-owned property fronting on Cole Street, between Initial and Stevenson avenues. It’s an item that previously sparked comment at a meeting of the Enumclaw Planning Commission due to a trade-off that many view unfavorably: the addition of a new park would take away from valued downing parking.

During last week’s council hearing, two citizens addressed the council and both spoke in favor of protecting parking.

“I shop downtown Enumclaw virtually every day,” said Christopher Hurst, who does not live in Enumclaw but has business interests in town. “We were really kind of shocked by that concept,” he added, when hearing of the potential for losing parking in the current lot at Cole and Initial Avenue.

If public parking goes away, “some of these businesses will fail,” Hurst said, adding that parking is already difficult during busy times.

Brian Caddy, who owns a motorcycle shop directly across from the parking lot, echoed those sentiments.

“If you inconvenience somebody in the slightest, they will go away,” he said.

Adding to the comments was Pamela Harding from the Planning Commission. That group had hosted a hearing on the matter in late October.

“Without fail, everyone was against removing any parking,” she said. “We listened to them and they had some very valid input.” In the end, the Planning Commission recommended that the council consider a different location for a downtown park.

During the Commission’s hearing on Oct. 24, nine citizens stepped forward to offer comment and all nine opposed the idea of losing downtown parking. One written comment had been submitted, strongly opposing the notion of taking away current parking opportunities.

The other two public hearing on the City Council’s Nov. 12 agenda involved money.

During a hearing on the proposed 2020 budget, Finance Director Stephanie McKenzie highlighted a couple of things: plans call for increasing the role of the city’s cultural programs coordinator from one-third time to half-time, as it used to be; also, the budget increases salaries for the police chief and commanders to avoid pay “compression” with others in the police department; and, finally, the budget calls for the addition of a manager to the year-old wastewater utility.

A public hearing on property taxes included McKenzie’s reminder that rates will drop slightly during 2020. The owner of property valued at $400,000 will pay the city an estimated $521 during the coming year, a few dollars less than in 2019. But that assumes property values do not increase; when assessed values increase, so does the tax bill.

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