Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen and City Manager Kurt Triplett gave an update on various programs, initiatives and projects happening throughout the city during a special event held on Monday night by the Kirkland Alliance of Neighborhoods (KAN).
Triplett gave those in attendance a rundown of the 2017-18 city work program, as adopted by the Kirkland City Council earlier this year.
The items in the plan include:
• Renovate Fire Station 25, construct new Fire Station 24 and site new Fire Station 27;
• Explore potential ballot measures for fire station modernization and public safety operations;
• Partner with A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH), churches and nonprofits to construct a permanent women and family shelter in Kirkland;
• Facilitate community policing through implementation of the Kirkland Police Strategic Plan;
• Implement the Cross Kirkland Corridor Master Plan, focused on the Totem Lake Connector and South Kirkland Park and Ride connection;
• Partner with Sound Transit, the State Department of Transportation and King County Metro Transit to ensure investments along Interstate 405 serve Kirkland’s mobility needs;
• Expand the Kirkland Maintenance Center capacity to meet the service needs of the larger city;
• Procure a new solid waste contract and engage King County and Kirkland residents to determine the future of the Houghton Transfer Station and Houghton Landfill;
• Replace the city’s core financial and human resources software.
Just last week, the city council voted to move ahead in the process of acquiring the land to build a new Fire Station 24 in the Juanita neighborhood.
While funding is secured for the new station and renovations to Fire Station 25, the city is looking into its options for relocating Fire Station 27 to the east side of I-405 near EvergreenHealth to improve response times in northeast Kirkland, particularly in the Kingsgate neighborhood.
As previously reported, the city is looking into pursuing a ballot measure to secure funding for this and improvements to Kirkland’s other fire stations. On Monday night, Triplett said the city will be creating a citizen advisory group to determine the feasability of a ballot measure and make recommendations to the city council in early 2018.
“We want to explore whether or not the community is interested in a ballot measure,” he said, adding the measure would likely appear on the November 2018 ballot if it’s approved by the council.
Triplett said if the city decides not to pursue a ballot measure or a ballot measure fails to get voter support, they will still find a way to fund the needed fire station updates.
“We’ll keep making that investment, it’s just a question of how fast,” he said.
Triplett said the city is hoping to open a permanent shelter for homeless women and families in late 2018 or early 2019. The proposed location for the shelter is on the property of Salt House, a church that currently houses the New Bethlehem Day Center for homeless families. It is located at 11920 N.E. 80th St., across from Lake Washington High School and west of Kirkland Cemetery.
The shelter would be three stories, with a day center on the first floor, beds for women on the second floor and overnight space for families on the third floor.
“People seem pretty accepting of the plan,” Triplett said, adding they have had two public meetings about the shelter.
The City of Kirkland is partnering with ARCH, the City of Bellevue, local churches and other organizations to get the shelter going.
“This shelter will belong to the entire Eastside, not just Kirkland,” Triplett said.
When discussing the implementation of the police strategic plan, Triplett addressed how staffing police officers has been a major issue not only for the city but the region and the nation as well. The combination of local officers being able to retire at age 53, the general unpopularity of the profession right now and the extensive training process (six to eight months) has caused the city to have up to 14 vacancies in the last couple of years.
Triplett said that eight officers are in various stages of training, and there are currently six vacancies. The strategic plan is meant to encourage more proactive policing, and the hiring of two more officers (which is included in the current budget) is required to get that started.
Triplett also discussed the city’s budget and how the end of the Annexation Sales Tax Credit (ASTC) in 2021 will give the city a $4 million shortfall. Triplett said city staff believes new sales tax revenue generated by developments including Kirkland Urban and the Village at Totem Lake will cover a large portion of the $4 million, and the debt service for the Kirkland Justice Center is scheduled to drop by $1 million in time for that as well.
“We’re cautiously optimistic about our trajectory (to cover the $4 million),” Triplett said in response to an audience question about the budget.
State of the City
To start the event, Walen delivered a State of the City address similar to the one she delivered earlier this year at a Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce luncheon. She spoke of how the city is blossoming.
“Our blessings are overflowing here in Kirkland,” Walen said Monday night. “(But) our mission is not complete if success is not sustained. … Remaining a world-class city means you never stop improving.”
She touched on major development projects including Kirkland Urban and the Village at Totem Lake, spoke of the proposed women and family shelter and the city’s other human services contributions and discussed the council’s resolution to ensure Kirkland is safe and welcoming to everyone.
For those who missed Monday’s event, Triplett will be the featured speaker at the chamber’s June 8 business luncheon, giving an update on the city to chamber members and guests. Pre-registration is required for the luncheon, which costs $30. For more information or to register, visit kirklandchamber.org.