The Yelm City Council completed three items on its agenda tonight- with the public part of the meeting lasting 23 minutes prior to the closed Executive Session:
1. The L. I. D. was passed. Council member Bob Isom put forth the motion passing Ordinance No. 847 Killion Road LID Formation after his explanation that he is a property rights advocate yet looking at this project, had to put that stance aside to determine what was best for the City. He stated that the cost differential of passing the LID and completing the road work for $8 million vs. $19 million in projected costs if the road improvements were done piecemeal was what overrode his decision in this case. Not one other comment or question came from Council members and Mr. Isom’s motion carried unanimously.
The L. I. D. was a slam dunk, as this writer stated previously (see June 13th’s entry on this blog). To underscore again, the proposed road L. I. D. will not improve traffic capacity on Yelm Avenue West because there is no capacity increase. The LID provides for curbs, sidewalks and a center turn-lane for a portion of this street. As we have witnessed on Yelm Ave East, a center turn-lane does not add capacity, rather just assisting with flow. Yelm Ave. East is at capacity now with daily backups from 5 Corners past the Rite Aid in the afternoons and from the 507 light back to the Safeway most mornings. One has to wonder what would have happened if Safeway requested a LID on Yelm Ave. East prior to that end of the road being widened. Perhaps Wal-Mart will request a LID to widen Yelm Ave. East to mitigate their traffic. Stay tuned!
This LID is now in the hands of the affected property owners to get the best fair market price for their land when the City comes knocking at their door as a buyer (see this writer’s suggestions under June 13th’s entry on this blog).
Interestingly, Mr. Isom reported in his monthly report that he, Mayor Harding and other local area elected officials met with Sen. Patty Murray and were told by Ms. Murray that there is no available federal funding of road and infrastructure projects, and not to expect any. He further stated that the Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC) where he represents Yelm, stated that Highway 507 is a “significant road”, meaning that federal monies may be forthcoming. Mr. Isom and Mayor Harding both acknowledged these two meetings were at odds with each other.
Remember, the WA. 507 DOT website still says the road will be built “subject to funding,” which is not assured. City of Yelm Development Review Engineer Jim Gibson stated previously that three lanes on Yelm Ave. West will easily handle the traffic with a WA. 507 Loop
and was challenged by this writer that a 507 Loop is 10 years away at earliest, if it happens at all. Now, our Senator says there will be no federal money. Look to a future where Yelm Ave. West must be widened to 5 lanes after Wal-Mart traffic uses the new Stevens St. connector to dump traffic onto Yelm Ave. West.
Another LID on the same stretch of road?
2. New business unanimously being passed was the $155,000 Contract Amendment for the SW Yelm Aquifer Study Project awarded to Golder Associates. This aquifer study will be important for the citizens of the area to know how their water is being affected by all of this development.
3. The Executive Session covered the open City Council seat selection with subsequent public announcement of John Thompson as the newly appointed 6th City Council member. Mr. Thompson was not present nor has he been seen at any recent City Council meetings by this writer. HMMM!
Congratulations are in order for John Thompson. While his service to this community has been exemplary, Mr. Thompson has served previously as a former Yelm City Council member & Mayor Pro-Tem, with Yelm Schools, Yelm Chamber of Commerce President, and Board positions with the Thurston Council Economic Development Committee and Thurston County Dispute Resolution Center. He is currently Chief of Staff for Lt. Gov. Brad Owen. He touted his connections at the state and federal level having an affect on the city’s future in his application for Council seat.
While Mr. Thompson certainly has the qualifications and experience, this City “Council has pledged to aim for more diversity,” quoting the front-page headlines of the Nisqually Valley News of Friday, June 2, 2006. There were 15 applicants for this position and choosing Mr. Thompson shows this Council’s words ring hollow. The City Council would have been wise to select a newcomer and/or another woman to fulfill their stated goals of diversity. Instead, they pander to some flights of fancy that Mr. Thompson’s Olympia connections will somehow translate into benefits for this town, while letting their intent for diversity go by the wayside. While this writer genuinely likes and appreciates Mr. Thompson as a person, Mr. Thompson is just “one of the boys” back in the saddle on this Council,
bringing no change.
Further, one has to wonder if Mr. Thompson will have the time and energy to fully devote himself to Yelm’s City Council considering the rigors required as a Lt. Governor’s Chief of Staff. And, how many times must he recuse himself from a key city vote because of his knowledge or involvement with issues on the state level causing conflicts of interest? Is this really the best choice for Yelm’s direction at this time?
Finally as an observation, I find most interesting the fact that neither former City Council members Mr. Cunningham nor Mr. Thompson ran for elected office for the 2 City Council seats up for election last November, all-the-while knowing they could be up for appointment this Spring when the City Council was expected to expand by 2 seats, suggested as a possibility in May, 2005, thereby avoiding public scrutiny from election race. Yes, the same could be said for the other applicants, however none of them has ever served Yelm in an elected capacity and do not know the Yelm political process as these two seasoned veterans. We will be watching who runs for the open seats in November, 2007. HMMM!