With the excitement of a new year already replaced by the doldrums of gray January skies, it’s time to look at what 2019 will bring to citizens of Enumclaw.
A list of capital improvement projects shows the projected spending of millions of dollars and spells out projects intended to provide benefits for years to come. There’s bound to be some inconvenience along the way, particularly with regard to street projects.
Here’s a look at a few items on a busy city list.
SWIMMING POOL DECISION
A decision needs to be made this year, according to City Administrator Chris Searcy, with regard to the popular-but-aging facility.
The aquatic center was built by King County in the 1970 and shows continued signs of old age. The decision, Searcy said, will involve one or two options: “Are we going big or are we just fixing things as they break?”
The planning process is in the works, as an engineering firm completed a comprehensive study of the entire facility. It is now in the hands of the City Council’s Community Services Committee, who will consider recommendations made by a mayor-appointed Pool Advisory Committee.
During the coming 12 months the city will address smaller items in need of repair, but the bigger question looms. One option is a bond issue – similar to those put forth by school districts for school construction – that would involve new property taxes. If that is the chosen option, Searcy said, it could come this fall; there might be some hesitancy to have a bond measure on a heated presidential election ballot in 2020.
This is where some inconvenience will be felt, as drivers will be channeled around road projects occurring throughout the city.
A project in the downtown area will see an overlay of Railroad Street between Battersby and Myrtle avenues, carrying a budget of $476,000, and a resurfacing of Semanski Street from Elmont to Griffin Avenue ($278,000).
A current road closure exists on Roosevelt Avenue, stretching west from Semanski Street. Due to installation of a new sewer main and extension of gas lines, Roosevelt will be closed between Semanski and Farrelly Street until Jan. 27. From Jan. 18 to Feb. 5, Roosevelt will be closed from Farrely to 244th Avenue Southeast for Phase 2 of the utility project.
Only local residents have access during daytime hours, but all can maneuver through during the evening.
The infrastructure improvements are tied to new housing on 244th.
One of the most noticeable projects on the city’s to-do list will be engineered this year, though not constructed until 2020. Planned for the busy intersection of Warner Avenue and Semanski Street, home to Enumclaw High School, is a “compact roundabout.” Work is intended to coincide with final completion of the ongoing Enumclaw High campus renovation.
Another major street project that will be designed this year and completed in 2020 is the resurfacing of a downtown portion of Cole Street.
TRAIL EXPANSION PROJECTS
Paved trails are mighty popular in these parts, with most of the activity found in Pierce County. South of the White River, anyone with enough time and conditioning can start walking in Buckley and continue, uninterrupted, to a trailhead just outside Puyallup. The Foothills Trail provides a 21-mile ribbon of pavement for nonmotorized use.
Enumclaw has long had a trail segment of its own, sitting atop an abandoned railroad right-of-way. But 2019 will bring more for those who enjoy the easy stroll of flat pavement. A little more than a million dollars will be spent during the coming year to add a pair of paved trails totaling 1.4 miles on Enumclaw’s north side.
One trail will run east-west along the south side of Battersby Avenue, from Garrett Street to Farman Street; the second trail to be developed runs north from Battersby to the city limits, just short of McHugh Avenue.
The good news for the city is the entire project will be funded with federal dollars. Money for the entire project, all phases, must be allocated by mid-September 2019.
The trail segment running north from Battersby will follow what is now a gravel path and was – during Enumclaw’s earlier days – home to well-used railroad tracks. It is identified as a continuation of the Foothills Trail.
The second section to be paved, along Battersby Avenue, will be independent of – but accessed from – the Foothills Trail.
In the larger picture, trail users have long anticipated a bridge across the White River that would connect trail systems in both King and Pierce counties.
Enumclaw’s paved trail extends south to 252nd, well shy of the White River. King County has been working on a plan to see the trail extended and initially hoped such work would happen this year. Now, it looks like only part of the plan may come to fruition.
As part of the permitting process, it was determined the anticipated trail extension would pass through a “critical” area. So, 2019 construction will see a shorter section completed while the planned trail to Mud Mount Road undergoes further analysis.
A revised schedule shows the shortened project could go to bid early this year with construction following during the summer and fall. According to a county representative, the estimated cost is $4.5 million.
Beyond that, here’s what the county has to say: “The planned segment to Mud Mountain Road needs further analysis and will be added to the final construction segment, which includes going over the White River, and is projected to start in 2021 as funding becomes available.”
The city has wondered what it should do with an under-utilized lot at the corner of Cole Street and Initial Avenue. It is now home to small building occupied by the Chamber of Commerce and Arts Alive!, with the rest used solely for parking.
The city issued a formal request, asking potential developers to submit ideas. There were two responses; neither was exactly what the city asked for, but each included elements of the request. Both respondents have existing commercial interests in Enumclaw.
The goal now, Searcy said, is to sit down with both and hammer out details, eventually determining a preferred option. Or, deciding that neither is desired.
The city had left things “flexible,” Searcy said, but advertised a desire for a building that would include commercial space on the ground floor and condominiums on the upper two floors, along with a public plaza and off-street parking. The first proposal called for abundant commercial space and underground parking; the second includes less retail space and “market rate” apartments on upper floors.
The most important thing, Searcy said, is to make a decision. “We just want to get it off-center,” he said.