Des Moines Council hears about 2,000 new jobs, tall trees & pot sales locations
by Jack Mayne
For years, the financially struggling city of Des Moines has cut staff and scratched some plans, but the future will be brightening over the next couple of years, the Des Moines City Council heard Thursday (Jan. 21) as well as about a bunch of trees too tall for the airport and concerns about a possible new marijuana store location.
They also heard concerns of a Redondo Beach Drive resident concerned about the noise and dangers from a planned raised section of the roadway as a way to make pedestrians safer and cars to move slower.
$200 million project advancing
The Council heard from Panattoni Development Co, the developer of the ongoing $200 million Des Moines Creek Business Park project with Senior Development Manager Donnie Belk saying the large site near downtown has many development uses and an excellent location with respect to freeway and mass transit access.
The first phase of the project is nearly 60 percent leased and close to being 80 percent leased, Belk said, and the remaining space has “lots of interest.”
The company has signed a 20-year federal lease for the 299,000 square foot, five story, steel-frame building for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regional facility at the development park.
The FAA facility is slated to open in 2018 and will bring 1,600 jobs to the city. Local parking will not be an issue because included are 1,200 parking spots along with perimeter landscaping.
The entire completed three-phase project will bring around 2,000 jobs adjacent to downtown Des Moines.
Belk said Des Moines is the best city staff to work with of the several they are dealing with – but not the easiest, “the city’s not a pushover.”
Trees in flight path
Trees will have to be cut down if they protrude too high into the flight path of airplanes landing and taking off from Sea-Tac Airport, the Des Moines City Council was told. The problem is not just for normal takeoffs and landings but also in case of emergencies where struggling aircraft may have to turn quickly and land.
Piasecki said he had had a meeting with the Port of Seattle’s airport division on something called the “flight corridor safety obstruction management program.”
It is a new FAA program that now requires all airports to every five years do an analysis of everything on and around airports “looking for objects that protrude up and into the airspace.” It used to be done ever 10 years by the FAA but they decided it was too expensive so they passed it to local airports and doubled the frequency of the review, Piasecki said.
“They found no buildings that are protruding up too high but there are several thousand objects that are too high and all of them happen to be trees. Eventually all of these trees will have to be taken out.”
He said the city was told there are “57 points in Des Moines” found by surface sweeping radar in the east part of the north hill area along Memorial Drive. Next they will be doing field surveys to find the actual individual trees or clumps of trees.
This year the port will take out all of the offending trees on its own property, he said, and next year they will take offending trees on government owned properties and commercial properties.
He said that in 2018 they will go to private property and some homes and take out trees too high for the aircraft flight paths.
New pot store?
Councilmember Rob Back said he had heard a lot about the subject of a potential new marijuana store on Pacific Highway South and he was going to be fair on the issue and recognizes there is a potential for more income to the city.
“I’m also balancing that with my personal belief that we need to grow our economy based on people’s strengths and not their weaknesses,” Back said. “I will vote my conscience accordingly.”
Councilmember Melissa Musser said the Council cannot create a new facility space in the city, the applicant must go to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board and because the area proposed is near an elementary school and a nursing home so it “may not be eligible to be sited there.” Musser said the present store nearby has proved itself “to be a great neighbor” and the Council does not want to “do anything to impact the livelihood I feel he has earned.”
Noisy new intersection?
Engineering Services Manager Brandon Carver answered questions of residents about a raised intersection of 72 feet in length planned for Redondo Beach Drive. He said the city has a grant for the project and the raised intersection was added to the Redondo Boardwalk reconstruction because it was a good chance for a “timely project” to be completed.
A raised intersection served two main function, Carver said, lifting the pedestrian crosswalk up for better visibility and to get drivers to slow down to the posted15 miles an hour. The trade-off for decreased speed is increase noise of cars moving up onto the platform and them moving off the raised area. Residents had expressed concern about that noise during the comment period at the beginning of the meeting.
Carver said the contract for the work was to be put out to bid soon and if they wanted any part of it removed to do it at the meeting. The Council did not make changes.
Mayor Matt Pina said he has heard many Redondo residents complain of speeding in the area, which is a pedestrian zone.