Changes are coming for both the Black Diamond City Council and its local skate park.
First, during the March 4 City Council meeting, former council members Steven Paige and Erin Rose Stout announced they would be resigning — Paige at the end of the night, and Stout after the March 18 gathering.
Paige wasn’t on the council for very long, as he was sworn in October 2019 when the city council voted to increase its size from five to seven members.
“I have been traveling quite a lot with my job, and it’s actually going to be increasing even more,” Paige said during his council report. “For that reason… I feel like the council would benefit from a council member that can devote more time to the important matters that we discuss and work on.”
Stout, however, was nearing the end of her four year term, having been elected November 2017.
“I just want to say that I’ve loved serving on the city council, but due to some unavoidable circumstances, we need to go now,” she said. “I want to thank everyone on the council, the city staff, and friends in the community that have worked with me and supported me.”
In an exit interview with the Courier-Herald, Stout had much to say about the issues her former city will be facing in the near future.
The biggest, she said, is trying to bring more businesses into the city.
“I really think that economic development is really important. We’ve had a lot of houses built here, and a lot of new neighbors, but no new retail, no new businesses,” she said. “We need a grocery store, and we need services… It’s important [to have] goods and services for residents, and it’s also important for a reliable tax base for the city. We basically have next to no sales tax income. We’re mostly dependent on property taxes, and that’s not a very diversified income for the city.”
And the city is going to need more income, Stout continued, in order to continue paying for fire services, which is a discussion the city council has been having in recent months.
“We’re also going to have to be adjusting the budget to pay for our fire service,” she said. “We’ve been underpaying for it for quite some time, and that’s just not going to happen anymore.”
According to a recently completed fire study, the city is looking at needing an additional $500,000 annually to continue receiving fire services from Mountain View Fire and Rescue, or pony up more than $1 million annually to start running its own fire department.
The council also needs funds for a new city hall and police department, Stout added.
Outside council business, Stout said the city as a whole could improve on welcoming newcomers into Black Diamond.
“There tends to be a little ‘us against them’ kind of a situation, and we can’t do that,” she said. “Everybody who’s a resident of Black Diamond came from someplace else at some point, and we just need to be welcoming of everyone who comes.”
With Stout and Paige now gone, the city has put out the call for their replacements. Applications for their replacements were due March 23; however, as of March 18, the city had received none. Anyone appointed to these positions would be up for election in either the summer primary or fall general.
Paige and Stout’s seats aren’t the only ones up for election, either — Council members Melissa Oglesbee, Chris Wisnoski, and Bernie O’Donnell’s seats will also be up for grabs, as well as Mayor Carol Benson’s position.
For those looking to become city officials, King County is hosting three April workshops to prepare prospective candidates for the election season.
The workshops are currently scheduled for April 1 from 6 to 8 p.m., and April 17 and 29 from 10 a.m. to noon; they will cover a range of topics including the elections calendar, online candidate filing, filing fee petitions, ballot order, local voters’ pamphlet filing, and more.
To register, head to bit.ly/kingworkshops; the filing period opens May 17, and closes May 21.
SKATE PARK DEEMED UNSAFE, TO BE TORN DOWN
Second, the city council had a public hearing during the March 18 meeting about demolishing the local skate park.
Public Works Director Seth Boettcher said the skate park is highly popular with the local youth.
“We would say this is the most popular feature within our park inventory,” Boettcher said during the meeting. “It maybe about rivals little league in the baseball field.”
However, the 2007-era skate park is no longer in good condition.
“In the past few years, portions of the skate park structure have been coming apart causing hazards to the skateboard park users,” city documents reads. However, the supplier of the parts and pieces needed to repair the park is no longer in business and the city has been unable to obtain replacements.
Additionally, “staff has more recently noted that the substructure is also failing; making previously simple repairs impossible in many locations,” those documents continue. “With the recent failures of the skateboard structure and no reasonable way to repair the facility, the structure needs to be removed, as fencing the site has only been partially successful in protecting the public.”
Only four people spoke during the public meeting, all of whom wanted the park to stay; barring that, they’d likely enjoy having a new park built, something the city is looking at.
“This is going to be a major project in the PROS (Parks, Recreations and Open Space) plan,” Boettcher said; the parks plan is expected to be introduced to the full city council sometime this summer. “We are looking into some kind of interim things that maybe this council would be willing to fund on a budget change, that would maybe be small enough dollars that we could just handle within our reserves.”