Enumclaw mayor, council differ on tourism effort

The importance of tourism not only occupied the bulk of the Enumclaw City Council’s May 8 meeting, but it also prompted a special, Monday-afternoon session.

The importance of tourism not only occupied the bulk of the Enumclaw City Council’s May 8 meeting, but it also prompted a special, Monday-afternoon session.

The tourism tale ­­— centered upon the money visitors bring and how to get them to stop in Enumclaw — has been pushed lately by Mayor Liz Reynolds. She broached the issue again May 9, suggesting that the city pay for the services of Roger Brooks. Calling him the “guru of tourism,” Reynolds noted that a one-day session with Brooks would set the city back $8,500, while an extra half-day pushes the bill to $10,000.

Brooks is not stranger to Enumclaw and its desire to capture tourist dollars, having been hired in both 2005 and 2008 to develop strategies aimed at boosting the city.

Reynolds was clearly in favor of bringing Brooks on board a third time.

The city has talked about the importance of tourism for years, she told the council, “and we’re all still sitting here talking about it, trying to get something off the table.”

The council was less enthused.

Councilman Chance LaFleur said there are “still some good tidbits from what we already paid for,” even if the earlier studies were done at a time when city leadership was pursuing an equestrian theme for the community.

Reynolds countered that technology has changed greatly in the past decade, altering the professional landscape and increasing what people like Brooks can provide.

Sensing some council pushback, Reynolds stated her case: “I’ve done my homework, I’ve indicated how I personally feel about it. It’s up to you whether the majority of the council wants to do this or not.”

The council leaned toward “not.”

Councilman Steve Cadematori reminded that he remains “as big a cheerleader as possible for Enumclaw and our region” when it comes to tourism. He has been a player in tourism efforts as the owner of Alta Crystal Resort near Crystal Mountain.

But, Cadematori said, he could not support a third venture with Brooks. “I find it to be redundant,” he said.

Enumclaw has the resources to launch a tourism effort without a paid consultant, he said, noting a belief that “we could get going tomorrow.”

Councilwoman Juanita Carstens agreed.

“We have people in our community who are very, very talented,” she said. And, with the creation of a new tourism board in the works, she prefers to hold off for now.

Councilwoman Kimberly Lauk also rebuffed the mayor’s suggestion, but for different reasons. She prefers directing city energies toward upgrading the downtown core, focusing on local residents rather than visitors.

Councilman Hoke Overland backed Reynolds.

“I’m all for seeing if there are any updates from Roger Brooks,” he said. The Arizona-based consultant “is literally recognized around the world,” Overland said. “I think it would be worth our time.”

Acknowledging that her suggestion had stalled, a clearly-frustrated Reynolds pushed the tourism agenda.

“We have heard tourism now for 20 years,” she said. “You say we have experts in the community. Why has it not gotten jump-started? I don’t think anybody in this city is an expert who can put together a solid (plan).”

With that, talked turned to creation of a tourism board, a collection of individuals and entities charged with mapping a vision for Enumclaw’s efforts.

In other action during their May 8 meeting, members of the Enumclaw City Council:

• gave certain city employees a pass when it comes to attending all council meetings.

City Administrator Chris Searcy explained that city code calls for department heads to be in attendance at all regularly-scheduled council sessions, even when there’s nothing on the agenda pertaining to them. The council agreed to drop the attendance requirement after being assured department heads would be in attendance if called upon.

• annexed a portion of Warner Avenue, a stretch of approximately 1,400 linear feet abutting the Suntop development. The developer is required to make improvements to Warner and, without the annexation, would have been able to improve only the north half of the roadway. The annexation allows for improvements to both lanes of Warner, which is referred to as Southeast 456th Street on county maps.

• approved a handful of council committee assignments. The three-person committees generally address issues and make recommendations before an item is placed on an agenda for action by the full council. The committee rosters are:

– Community Services and Development: Kimberly Lauk (chair), Jan Molinaro and Anthony Wright.

– Economic Development: Hoke Overland (chair), Juanita Carstens and Molinaro.

– Finance: Molinaro (chair), Steve Cadematori and Wright.

– Public Safety: Carstens (chair), Chance LaFleur and Overland.

– Public Works: LaFleur (chair), Lauk and Cadematori.

Additionally, it was agreed that Carstens would remain as the council’s liaison to the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce. Also, Wright volunteered to fill the council’s second seat on the Plateau Cities Colaboration Committee and Cadematori was named an alternate for the city’s seat on the Sound Cities Association.

• heard Reynolds announce May 14-20 as Substance Abuse Prevention Week in Enumclaw. A proclamation was presented to Monica Robbins of the Rainier Foothills Wellness Foundation, who reviewed a series of programs sponsored by the RFWF highlighting the special week.

• listened as Reynolds proclaimed May 19 and 20 as Relay For Life Days and encouraged community support for the annual event. This year’s Relay For Life is a combined venture with Buckley, taking place at Glacier Middle School in Buckley.

• watched Reynolds proclaim May 15-20 at National Police Week in Enumclaw and offer a proclamation to Chief Jim Zoll.

Zoll noted that May 15 is nationally designated to honor police officers who were killed in line of duty. Since 2008, he said, the Enumclaw department has gone a step further, honoring all past Enumclaw Police Department employees now buried in the Enumclaw and Buckley cemeteries. On the 15th, he said, department representatives will place a single white rose on graves of those former employees, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Enumclaw cemetery, then in Buckley.

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