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For the first time ever in the over 5 years I have been attending official city meetings, did I witness an active public exchange with officials.
Planning Commission Chair Terry Kaminski skillfully conducted a Public Hearing on the “2009 Transportation Plan Update to include updates to two maps. The 20 year transportation map, and the trail and bike map. The transportation map includes projects planned over the next 20 years. The new map shows reconstructions, new connections and other projects planned. Adoption will bring the transportation project map up to date making use of the latest available information,” quoting the City’s website.

Almost a dozen property owners and residents along 93rd Ave. SE in Yelm spoke protesting the Y1 connector from Thurston Highlands and Tahoma Terra onto 93rd Ave., saying among other things:
– 93rd is a county road. Who is going to pay for road improvements to 93rd when the county cannot?
– 93rd should not be used as an entrance/egress for Thurston Highlands & Tahoma Terra
– why is this road even on the map when the city has a water lawsuit against it (the city has appealed) and there may not be full build-out in Tahoma Terra? Until we know the results, why is this on here?

In response to questions from the Commission about the Y1, including one from Commissioner Glen Cunningham asking how long the Y1 has been there, he’d never seen it, Tami Merriman responded that this allows for traffic movement from Tahoma Terra & Thurston Highlands. Mr. Cunningham was told by Dir. Beck the Y1 had been there since 1994. While true, Mr. Beck failed to mention that the Y1 was originally further west of the present location on the map.
I responded to Ms. Merriman’s assertions that the Y1 will ease traffic for Thurston Highlands & Tahoma Terra by reminding everyone that Tahoma Blvd., Longmire, Mosman, and Tahoma Blvd. eventually exiting on SR 507 were the only ways these two developments proposed to mitigate their traffic and that was already approved by the city. They can’t come back now and say this is for Thurston Highlands & Tahoma Terra!

However, for the very first time, I felt the citizens were listened to by most of the Planning Commission.

There was a motion put forward to remove the Y1 from the map that was seconded. However, in discussion, most on the Commission said the road should be on a 20 year plan as a potential. Finally, a motion passed, with two voting against, to leave the Y1 on the map yet send a note to the Yelm City Council to do more study before this road is placed on any STIP (6 year plan).
I am certain these same residents will be in City Council when this issue comes up in late July to add further comment, however the Yelm City Council has a history of not listening to the public and there will be no further discussion there of any merit, nor any consideration of public input. This will pass by the Council as is, slam dunk!

One comment of note by a Planning Commission Member was this from Glen Nutter,
“Leaving the Y1 in the 20 year plan makes sense only if the Highlands is developed.”

Other key points presented:
– Community Development Beck said this map represents models and his dept. would have to rerun the models.
25 year environmental planner & Yelm resident Bill Hashim reminded the Commission that rerunning the models is a simple task, requiring a few funds, however the models are only as good as the numbers you put into them.
– Mr. Hashim reminded the Commission that Council Member Bob Isom said he would not listen to any concerns of RSE students who lived outside of city limits. Mr. Hashim said this map represents alot of Urban Growth Areas (UGA) outside the city that must be considered, regardless of Isom’s ridiculous remark.
– Beck was asked about Mr. Klein’s comments that the Bypass is to be split into two phases and Phase Two funding won’t even be taken up by the State Legislature until the 2021-2023 biennium. Mr. Beck responded that the city would be seeking federal funding and going to the legislature in 2 years to request Phase 2 Bypass funding.
My, of my, Mr. Beck – that answer would lead one to think the city is in the running for Phase 2 funding when that is far from the case. There are no funding discussions on the horizon for at least 12 years!
– Tami Merriman responded to questions about Mr. Klein’s comments that a Phase One Bypass would terminate at Cullens Rd., where there is no traffic light at Yelm Ave to handle the traffic. Ms. Merriman stated there could be no light there as it is too close to Longmire. Mr. Beck said most of the traffic would use Killion anyway.
Mr. Klein stated that Killion & Cullens were not engineered and designed to handle truck and heavy traffic – that Killion goes through a residential neighborhood with children and senior assisted-living housing area & Cullens is an unimproved 2-lane street.
– Of note brought up by Australian transplant Pam Paiz about using roundabouts in Yelm, which help to keep traffic moving. Ms. Merriman stated there would be two on the Bypass and that there may be one or two in the city soon.

Bottom Line: Kudos to Mrs. Kaminski for her handling of this 70+ minute meeting and allowing the public to exchange with the Commission, heretofore unprecedented! And, hats off to JW Foster and John Thomson for being able to see through all of the issues raised and asking key questions. In being thoroughly aware of all of the parameters, these two voted against keeping the Y1 in the plan and brought forth several well-balanced statements demonstrating they were well-versed on the issues.
This was a refreshing change that was noted by the public!

Posted by Steve on June 16, 2009 at 7:19 am | Permalink

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