Your help is needed NOW to save the funding for Phase 2 of the trail (to extend it from Yelm to Pierce County). Like many trails, this project relies on grant funding. The State budget item that provides such grants is called the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). In the Legislature, the House budget includes $110 million for that program, however the Senate budget only includes $100 million for it. At the higher (House) amount, this grant request is almost fully funded. However, the Senate proposal would greatly reduce that award resulting in a huge funding gap that would likely delay trail development for years. Our region can’t wait — we need to stay on schedule and finish this trail!
Budget negotiations are currently underway and the last day of the legislative session is April 25th. Please, RIGHT NOW, contact your legislators — particularly your senator — and deliver the following messages:
-Senators: Match the House proposal of $110 million for WWRP
-Representatives: Hold firm on the House proposal of $110 million for WWRP
Feel free to tell them about the trail and what it will mean to you and the region. Info can be found here: https://bit.ly/2PX9kJ2
From Yelm-based Director, Paulina Amador to the Yelm Community Blog:
Do we really think for ourselves? It’s important that people have the freedom to dig deeper and follow their curiosity. Many feel they are not allowed to think for themselves. It is the biggest problem in our current society that people don’t value their own thoughts.
“We are pleased to announce that the Yelm Cinemas will be hosting a special screening of EVOLUTION for our beloved local community, April 29 through May 2. Please visit the Yelm Cinemas website for showtimes.
“As always, we are committed to unfolding the Genius within us and bringing exceptional knowledge to a world on the cusp of magnificent change and EVOLUTION!
Ed. note: With filing week a month away, the City of Yelm has the mayor’s seat and 4 councilor seats up for election, plus Finance Director and Community Development Director vacancies to be filled this year.
The greatest changes to Yelm’s government in 2 decades lie ahead: a new vision, a bold direction in 2022!
Congratulations to Mayor Foster for his decades of public service as he is set to retire.
“Many years ago, my dad told me that life was not so much about getting to some destination – it was about making the most of the journey. It was about the people you meet along the way and the impacts you have on each other. It was about developing trust and building relationships and helping each other. Life was to be lived, not observed. And he and Mom demonstrated that if you live your life in service to others, the reward is a life well lived. And that’s the point. Thanks, Dad.
“I practiced that ideology for 5-years in the Marine Corps infantry, followed by 34-years as a Paramedic/Firefighter, then for our home community since 1996 when we moved our family to Yelm. During our time here, Nicki and I volunteered with the schools, coached a whole bunch of kids in baseball, soccer, basketball.., chaperoned dozens of field trips to music events, plays, NW Trek, Mt. Rainier, etc., and worked as parent volunteers and ‘camp medic’ at Cispus – some of the best years of our lives. We spent a lot of our family time working with the Nisqually Land Trust to leave a legacy of a cleaner, safer environment for generations to come. And I was honored to be asked to play a part in our city’s government – first on the Parks Committee, then Planning Commission for 5 years, two stints on City Council, first as an appointed ‘fill-in’ in 2001, then elected to serve again in 2011. And in 2016, I was appointed to serve out the remainder of the Mayor’s term and was elected to the position in 2017. Throughout my time working for the citizens of Yelm, I feel we’ve accomplished good things together and that Yelm is a better place for it. By the end of this year, it will be 50 years of public service and I have to tell you, I feel really good about it! And I’m pretty sure Mom and Dad would too. But now, as the circle of life demands, Nicki and I must turn our attention to other pursuits of happiness – aka Grandkids. So, we will not be running for re-election.
“With four Council positions and the Mayor’s seat on the ballot in November, there could be a lot of new faces in the Council chamber in 2022. I hope this becomes an opportunity for others to step up and start their own journeys of public service. And I truly hope they realize that the job is not about them, it’s about taking care of people. And most importantly, it’s about supporting the team of professionals who work for the City of Yelm and who will carry the daily weight. They deserve all the credit for the smooth-running machine we’ll turn over to a new leadership team in January.
“Now having made the announcement to retire, I’ll tell you that we still have a long year ahead of us. I will continue working for you until the last day of December, and I look forward to this exciting year of recovery and rebuilding. Thanks for making my journey memorable and rewarding. Here’s to new beginnings!”
A new Earthquake Early Warning system is coming to Washington state on May 4. This is NOT earthquake prediction. This infographic explains how it works. You can check to make sure your phone settings are correct to get wireless emergency alerts at mil.wa.gov/alerts
UPDATE: Application to circulate a petition for annexation requested of councilpostponed
[Ed. note: This issue was covered here extensively on Monday.]
This Yelm City Council Agenda item was postponed at the request of the property owner this evening. Glen Schorno told the council he wants to do no harm to the city’s water rights application.
Therefore, the council voted to postpone consideration of the Application to circulate a petition for annexation until the WA. Dept. of Ecology (DOE) approves additional water rights for Yelm or approves the annexation without harming the current water rights application in conjunction with the city’s Comprehensive Plan.
Community Development Director Grant Beck provided the council a water rights overview, saying he expects an update by the end of this summer from DOE on the amount of water Yelm will be granted. He said the city requested 942 acre feet of water lasting for 20 years, which is more than doubling the current water rights.
Editor’s note: The Yelm City Council Study Session of April 6, 2021, encompassed a discussion of what to do with the land the city will possess free and clear when the L.I.D’s bond payments for the Killion/Yelm Ave. West roadway intersection improvements have been concluded in 2024.
Yelm’s council was fully briefed on this January 7, 2020, a summary published by the city here.
Yet last week, Councilor Wood asked 1) who owns the property right now, 2) how did Yelm come into possession of the 640 acre deed? The mayor said the 640 acres and debt was retained by the city when an L.I.D. taxpayer defaulted, without saying why.
Mayor Foster signed a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure without telling council or getting their approval, yet why he did so was again not addressed!
BRIEF SUMMARY FOR CLARIFICATION:
On December 29, 2017, without consulting nor receiving proper authorization from the city council, Mayor Foster unilaterally signed a contractual Agreement for Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure on behalf of the City of Yelm. This agreement gave the property owner, DDD Washington LLC, two years to pay the back taxes, interest, and any fees, or 100% forfeit to the city the 640 acres and loan debt balance owed to the Local Improvement District (L.I.D.). DDD defaulted for non-payment as of December 31, 2019, and the city subsequently reported the parcel became an asset of the L.I.D. as of January 3, 2020. The City of Yelm owns the parcel 100%, yet is encumbered by and responsible to reimburse the remaining loan debt to the L.I.D. by 2025, before any disposition of the property can be initiated by the city.
THIS ENTIRE ISSUE WAS COVERED ON THIS BLOG JANUARY 15, 2020, AS FOLLOWS:
Regarding the city’s recently acquired 640 acres parcel, the Yelm City Council received a briefing from Community Development Director Grant Beck at the January 7, 2020 Study Session. While an introductory overview, the council received little information on how contentious this L. I. D. (Local Improvement District) became when former Mayor Harding led the charge in 2006 on behalf of the Thurston Highlands developers, who went bankrupt in late 2008. This 2006 council-approved L. I. D. put a portion of the cost of road improvements at the then-proposed Tahoma Blvd./Yelm Ave. W. intersection onto the backs of adjacent property owners.
“Thurston Highlands developers Doug Bloom & Steve Chamberlain asked the city for help in funding road improvements necessitated by traffic impacts from their Tahoma Terra developments.
The city advocated the L.I.D. property owners’ land values would substantially increase due to proximity to the developments.
Property owners in the impact zone of Tahoma Terra were forced to pay a City Council imposed L. I. D. covering 46% of the costs of road improvements to Yelm Ave. West, Killion, & Tahoma Blvd. via mandated property taxes, or almost one-half of the cost of the road improvements, work that should have been borne totally by the developers.
Then, property values fell after the 2008 downturn and property owners who were forced into the L. I. D. carried an undue debt load for the roadwork. Read more
Mayor Foster unilaterally contracted an Agreement for Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure [Dec. 2017] to a delinquent L.I.D. taxpayer, and when they defaulted according to this contract [Dec. 2019], they left the city a deed for 640 acres, plus an approx. $2 million loan debt, which is paid to 2024-2025.
This defaulted L.I.D. taxpayer, from a very high-profile family in Seattle, was an owner of three major parcels of undeveloped land in the far western portion of the Thurston Highlands development, made a decision to part with one of their parcels (640 acres), for which they were multiple years behind on property taxes/interest payments. For some unexplained reason, Mayor Foster signed a clandestine contract for a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure on December 29, 2017, leaving the city with the land plus over $2 million in debt IF/when the land-owners defaulted. This was all set-up to get them out from under what they owed the city, so of course they were going to default! Council requested explanations from Foster since June 2018, only to be told to wait until the end of 2019 to see if the land-owners would eventually make their payments in full. If in default on December 31, 2019, the city would take on the land and the L. I. D debt. That occurred, so on January 7, 2020, the council began to get their minds around what Mayor Foster had fostered onto the city’s back and budget.
Councilor Carmody asked, “Where did the Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure come in?”
Carmody did not get a response and Mayor Foster’s silence was palpable. He KNOWS he was the one who negotiated the contract, without council’s approval.
Why has the council not demanded a straight answer from Mayor Foster?
The Yelm City Council needs to demand an answer from Mayor Foster as to why he agreed to this contract of a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure and accompanying $2+ million L. I. D. debt WITHOUT COUNCIL’S AUTHORITY.
The mayor’s authority for expenditures without council’s approval is a maximum of $35,000. The laws/regulations of the state and city do not convey to the mayor the authority to unilaterally negotiate and sign this agreement, according to:+ the RCW [42.30.070, “No governing body of a public agency shall adopt any ordinance, resolution, rule, regulation, order, or directive, except in a meeting open to the public.”] and the Yelm Protocol Manual [2.02 A 1e, Summary of Council Duties and Responsibilities as Provided in, but not Limited to, the Washington Administrative Code and Revised Code of Washington, Establish Policy, Approve contracts].
Yelm Ave. West, and Killionproperty owners were unduly burdened by the city in 2006!
This blog covered the extremely controversial council sessions that brought this L. I. D. into fruition.Click here
The Yelm city council keeps asking why the city has this debt, as Councilor Wood did on April 6th, yet has never pressed Mayor Foster for his explanation.