Enumclaw council stalls on options for spending $50K

Options for spending $50,000 occupied most of the Enumclaw City Council’s time and energy March 9, while plans for spending more than $5 million were put on hold for a year.

The bulk of the most recent council meeting was spend on potential uses for the $50,000 that was included in the 2015 municipal budget and earmarked for “economic development.”

Talk originally centered upon using the money for part-time city staff to assist with plans to spark some growth in Enumclaw. Realizing that it may be difficult to hire a professional for the task – knowing there was a limited, one-time pot of money – talk shifted to bringing a consultant on board.

The administration’s desires quickly melted away as council conversation covered a gamut of possibilities that could breathe life into the city economy. As often happens, talk turned to the Thomas Farm, which sits on the north side of state Route 410 in the vicinity of Watson Street. In the 1980s, the farm owners sold development rights on the property to King County, effectively eliminating commercial development of the land.

In terms of Enumclaw development, discussions often include the 150 parcel that sits directly across from commercial land – including McDonald’s – but is off-limits for development.

Both City Administrator Chris Searcy and Mayor Liz Reynolds emphasized that the odds of reversing the status of the dairy land wound are miniscule.In the end, council members tabled their discussion of economic development and, specifically, how to use the $50,000 in the budget. The topic will come up again during a future meeting.

The $5 million discussion centered upon plans to build a reservoir that will handle the city’s water needs for the next couple of decades.

The city had maintained three reservoirs, with two sitting on Roosevelt Avenue East, just beyond the golf course on the far eastern edge of the city. A tank holding 2 million gallons of water was failing and was torn down a year ago. Replacement plans looked at both a 2 million gallon option or a larger 3 million gallon reservoir.

Both options exceeded the city’s proposed budget of $3.5 million so the decision was made to put plans on hold for another year and continue seeking grant funding for the project.

In other action during their March 9 meeting, council members:

• amended an existing lease between the city and the Enumclaw School District for use of the stadium on the Enumclaw Expo Center grounds.The district wants to improve seating on the visitor side of the field and found used bleachers being sold by the Issaquah School District. To accommodate the new seats, boundaries of the leased area needed to be pushed out about 20 feet. A gravel path will have to be moved and the two sides agreed to share the cost of replacing it with an asphalt pathway.The lease arrangement has existed since the fall of 2011, following upgrades to the field that included installation of a synthetic turf.

• agreed to a contract with Sharon Rice to continue serving as the city’s hearing examiner.She has been in the role for the past seven years and has been compensated at a rate of $140 per hour. The new contract is for one year, with automatic rollovers at the city’s discretion, and bumps the rate to $160 per hour.A hearing examiner serves as an impartial third party that takes the place of the Planning Commission to hear and make land use recommendations.

• joined Reynolds in honoring the state champion boys wrestling team from Enumclaw High, along with KC Moulden who won her third straight state title.“You kids rocked the wrestling world,” Reynolds said, while acknowleding the support given EHS athletes by parents, teachers and all community.

• unanimously passed a resolution adding a captain position to the Enumclaw Police Department; the council action also officially changed the term “patrolman” to “police officer.”

• welcomed new city building official Tom Ushing, who was introduced by Community Development Director Erica Shook.