The city of Kirkland continued its efforts to address climate change and environmental management with a sustainability forum on June 22 at City Hall.
The city has a variety of programs, initiatives and master plans that focus on differing environmental preservation aspects, such as its Surface Water Master Plan, the Transportation Master Plan, the Urban Forestry Strategic Plan and the Cross Kirkland Corridor Master Plan. The city has successfully accomplished many sustainability-focused projects over the last several years.
Until now, there has not existed an overarching plan to coordinate each of the efforts to improve sustainability.
In 2015, the city noted in its Comprehensive Plan the benefit of having a procedure to identify best practices for sustainability strategies to be implemented. Council included the creation of this Sustainability Master Plan in the 2019-20 work program.
City manager Kurt Triplett has been consulting with key stakeholders within the community to identify priorities and specific actions for the city to undertake. Throughout this summer, the city will be conducting various civic engagement activities in order to collect feedback from the community.
“It was a great kickoff to this project,” said Kirkland communications program manager Kellie Stickney. “This is the first time we’ve had a conversation to develop a Sustainability Master Plan.”
The forum served as an open brainstorming session during which 67 residents discussed potential actions for Kirkland to improve environmental, economic and social sustainability.
“It was very inter-generational. We saw kids as young as 10 or 11, to senior citizens,” said senior project manager David Barnes.
The interactive event was structured around the eight draft focus areas in the city’s Sustainability Master Plan. The sections range from energy supply and emissions to healthy community building.
“We had people sitting in eight different tables based on the focus areas,” said Barnes. “They discussed ideas about the elements of the plan and possible actions the city can take to influence the elements of the plan.”
Every 15 minutes, people moved to another table with a new environmental subject, he explained. As lead on the plan, Barnes noticed that the importance of trees in Kirkland was highlighted by residents several times.
A special council meeting addressed the master plan on March 1. The memorandum served as a framework for discussion on the development of a plan to implement sustainable strategies. The project aims to focus on the three key areas of sustainability: ecological, economic and social.
Prior to the forum, feedback from the public indicated that the master plan should be inclusive of diversity within the city and encompass both government and community ideals. Other responses recommended access to a useful handbook for all people to actively implement sustainability strategies.
“We want to make sure that people can still be involved,” said Stickney. “This is just the beginning of a conversation.”