What rhymes with “plate“?

Why, “Fete” of course!

That is if you’re in England and talking about any of the thousands of charming “Village Fetes” that occur all over the countryside or even some cities. Festive village fetes are fairs complete with their own style of carnival games like Splat the Rat, Smash the Crockery, Wet Sponge Throwing and more. Other staples of these annual events include live music, cake stalls, car shows, raffles and of course beer, tea and lots of traditional English foods.

Now for the second year in the row this tradition has crossed the pond and landed in historic old Renton, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and coming Saturday, Sept. 12, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.!

And the Weather Gods are calling for a 0% chance of rain, sunny skies and a high of 79 degrees!:

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 5.51.15 PM

Drawing on their Anglican roots, St. Luke’s 2nd annual English Fete will offer sales of traditional English foods such as Banger’s & Mash, Shepherd’s Pie and Ploughman’s Lunch, along with English beers and sweets, classic English carnival games, live music by Celtic Check! and fun for all ages.

New this year is a High Tea in the Garden. A select lucky few will enjoy finger sandwiches, sweets and tea, served in St. Luke’s brimming vegetable and flower garden. Complete with an audience with the “queen”! Reserve early to snag one of the few seats available for the two seatings. For more information or to reserve please contact info@stlukesrenton.org.

A bouncy castle and face painting round out the many family friendly activities which kids will enjoy. While adults might like to quaff a beer or cider in the pub.

All proceeds benefit the operation of St. Luke’s and their many community ministries including, ARISE, an interfaith traveling homeless shelter for men, St. Luke’s Community Garden whose bounty is shared with Renton’s needy, and warm-up breakfasts on various weekday mornings.

Admission is free and open to all (Please contact info@stlukesrenton.org for special accommodations or information).

Pip! Pip! Cheerio! let’s all go to the Fete!

St.Luke’s Episcopal Church is located at 99 Wells Ave South in historic downtown Renton; phone: (425) 255-3323.

Here are some photos from last year’s Fete:







6th Grade Student Compositions

Focused Fitness


Impact-Grant - Global Connections

The ABC's of Reading

The Highline Schools Foundation announced more grants this year to Highline Public School teachers, including $10,000 to one school or program through their Impact Grant, funded in part by Alaska Airlines.

They continue to support classroom innovation in the district, and provide teachers resources they need to help our students be successful through the annual Excel Grant program; and they recently partnered with Highline’s Department of Technology Services (DoTS) to offer Technology Grants specifically designed for all K-12 Highline Public School teachers.

The Impact Grant for $10,000 was created as a way to make a meaningful difference in a specific program in Highline Public Schools. The 2014 Impact Grant winner was “Making an Impact: Building Bright Futures for Young Women in Computer Science” submitted by Highline’s Career Access Department. This grant provided funds to help increase the number of high school females in computer science classes, to spark their interest in technology related careers, and to help them graduate prepared for a future in the computer science field.

“Students need and deserve to know about high wage/high demand careers they can begin preparing for but likely won’t without early awareness and encouragement. The average salary for a computer programmer is $95,000 and employers in our region can’t hire fast enough,” said Julie Burr, Highline’s Career Access Manager.

With funding from the Highline Schools Foundation, 126 young women, underrepresented in the field, came from all middle and high schools in the district to participate in a fun “Hackathon” where they heard from inspirational professionals and learned how to code.

Excel Grants became a staple program of the Foundation in February 2002. In 2014, the Foundation awarded $76,206 to 89 classroom grants throughout all schools in Highline Public Schools. Teachers are encouraged to submit grants each year, for a maximum amount of $1,000 each.

New in 2015 and in support of the District’s Strategic Plan where every student in the class of 2026 will graduate tech-savvy and tech-literate, and in support of all academic goals, the Department of Technology Services the Department of Technology Services (DoTS) is offering Technology Grants. Technology grants are open to all K-12 HPS teachers for projects which advance student achievement through the use of technology. The goals of this new grant are: to encourage excellence and innovation in teaching; to fund the use of technology in innovative or additional programs that might not otherwise be possible within the current district budget priorities; and to expand upon current curriculum with innovative teaching strategies.

Grant application deadlines:

  • Technology Grants 10/08/15
  • Impact Grant 10/18/15
  • Excel Grants 11/05/15

All grant applications are available on the Highline Schools Foundation website: www.highlineschoolsfoundation.org.


Over 1,000 people braved what UW Meteorologist Cliff Mass called ‘the most powerful summer storm EVER to hit our region’ last Saturday (Aug. 29) to attend the 6th Annual Poverty Bay Blues & Brews Festival, supporting kids and music.

The annual one-day event, which is organized by the Rotary Club of Des Moines & Normandy Park, is the largest fundraiser for Highline Music4Life, a non-profit that provides musical instruments for low income children attending Highline Public Schools. Each year, the event at the Des Moines Beach Park draws acclaim for world class blues performances and incredible craft beer.

And despite winds with gusts up to – and possibly over – 40-50MPH, guests showed up, had fun and enjoyed a full day of brews and blues.

“The support from the community on such a challenging day was very inspiring and we’d like to thank the sponsors, bands, the breweries, volunteers and community for their un-wavering support,” said perennial Chairman of the fest, Rotarian Brian Snure said. “We live in a very special place indeed.”

Saturday morning started with high winds that caused massive rolling white-caps in Poverty Bay. Nevertheless, Rotarian/Facilities Liaison Jim Polhamus diligently set about his work early that morning to create the best possible environment for the many expected to come.

Long time Rotarian Bonnie Verhunce, who assembled a roster of over 20 of the craft brewers in the Pacific Northwest, scrambled to situate the hardy Brewers wrangling ice, kegs and taps. Meanwhile, Rotarian Vince Koester prepared his famous food, not knowing if anyone other than the volunteers would turn up to enjoy it.

Rotarians Brian Seth and Dave Markwell clambered to anchor tents in place by tying ropes to trees, cinder blocks and massive weights from Waterland Crossfit. Just before gates were to open, an incredible wind buckled and demolished David Endicott’s Music4Life canopy, prompting Rotarians to swiftly relocate him and his booth to a safer place. Due to the fierce wind, Music Liaison and Rotarian Steve Swank made the call to move the bands indoors for the first time in Blues and Brews History for the safety of the both bands and the public.

The Noon opening came, and Rotary President Janel Stoneback crossed her fingers, not knowing if anyone would show up in the face of the storm. The gates opened, and a slow trickle of staunch Rotary supporters, blues lovers and beer aficionados began to trickle in. By 1 p.m. the heft of the storm system (the same one that took out power and knocked out trees in many places in the Puget Sound) evaded Poverty Bay by about one mile. The wind diminished slightly and the sun broke through the clouds. This prompted approximately 1,000 people to assemble to enjoy the event and support the worthy causes sponsored by the Rotary Club of Des Moines/Normandy Park Washington.

Financial totals are still being tallied, and despite not completely realizing this year’s attendance goals, the event was an utter success financially with tens of thousands of dollars raised for beneficiaries like Highline Music4Life, The Des Moines Food Bank, Dictionaries for 3rd Graders, and many others. The Blues & Brews Raffle, which featured $2,500 towards airfare anywhere Alaska Airlines flies and two season passes for Centerstage Theatre in Federal Way, was the most lucrative in any Rotary event history. The winner of the Alaska Airfare was Holly Moses, and the Centerstage season passes went to Diana Lincoln.

The Rotary Club of Des Moines and Normandy Park is actively looking for individuals who want to join in the club’s efforts to take on some of the greatest needs in our communities. If you are interested in joining leaders from different cultures and occupations from around the area; if you would like to exchange ideas and form life-long friendships; if you have the desire to take action to create positive change in Des Moines and Normandy Park, you are encouraged to get involved by emailing wavemakersinc@gmail.com.

Below are photos taken at Saturday’s event by Scott Schaefer (click images to see larger versions/slideshow):



















Here’s episode #17 of our SoKing News Podcast, which is sponsored by a generous grant from J-Lab’s Encore Media Entrepreneurs program, supported with funding from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation and the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation:

Tukwila biker gang member with ‘HATRED’ tattooed on forehead on lam after shooting at police; International Festival coming to SeaTac; Kids’ Day coming to Burien Fire Station; Puget Sound Weather Geek has the weekend weather forecast (BIG CHANGE ahead!); Jack Mayne Commentary & more…

Please subscribe to our Podcast, hear previous episodes and rate us on iTunes here!

by Dave Markwell

While enjoying a ribald boy’s weekend experience a few weeks ago, in between beers, meat and cards, I had a conversation with a buddy. Eric, (Erock to his friends) is an old and good friend. He’s a smart, terrific guy who is always interesting to chat with.

Sitting in our lawn chairs on the freshly mowed grass lot overlooking a river in Eastern Washington, Erock and I were discussing many things, most of which I can’t remember due to the beers I was taking a break from. However, one item I took a special note of:

Erock said that every time he sees a kid selling something in front of a store, he buys. Candy bars, popcorn, cookies, it doesn’t matter. He told me that he made a commitment to purchase whatever item any kid sitting in front of a business he was patronizing was selling. He mentioned that he chats with the kids a little bit to ease their awkward nervousness about having to ask strangers to buy something from them. He listens to their stories and makes them feel better about being in an uncomfortable spot.

Having been one of the kids sitting in front of the store a few times, I can say that this is pretty cool. A human being deliberately and intentionally recognizing a unique moment to be kind, and acting consistently upon it, is pretty amazing. As mentioned, Erock is a good guy, so it’s not surprising that he does this, but, a larger concept struck me regarding our gross lack of awareness of the wonderful, little anonymous gestures good people do.

The good people do good things all the time, often unrecognized and unknown. This is pretty inspiring to me. While evaluating whether I do anything good that I don’t pay much attention to, but might parallel Erock’s commitment, I couldn’t come up with much, except that I pray for roadkill.

Yes, you read that right…I pray for roadkill. I started doing this probably twenty years ago. Every time I see a smashed possum, raccoon, squirrel, cat or dog on the highway shoulder, I say a little prayer for them. I don’t really remember the genesis of this idea. I think I began praying for these animals because I wasn’t sure if anyone else was, so it seemed like the right thing to do. And many years, varmints, vermin and pets later, I’m still doing it.

Few people know about this goofy little habit which leads me to wonder about others. What don’t we know about each other? What kindnesses do we, intentionally or unintentionally, hide? How well do we know each other? My suspicion is: not very well. I’m comfortable with this, but I was also touched by Erock’s story.

It seems, in this world, we often judge harshly. We place much value on the negative and don’t give much thought to what may lie beyond the obvious. In a hasty moment, we clearly and confidently define a person’s heart. The problem is that we’re often wrong. This is too bad. I suspect we miss much. Most people are deeply good and leading with this presumption would solve a lot of problems. This is a simple yet complicated truth and one worth making a habit of understanding. It may be easier said than done, but it’s worth giving a shot.

However, to hedge my bet while being unsure of the timeline to create such a transformational evolution, I’ll keep praying for flat rats, too…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

WLB Real Estate Sponsor Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Northwest’s Open House – set for both Saturday, Aug. 29 and Sunday, Aug. 30 – is a well-kept Blakely Manor rambler!

This home is in move-in condition, and could be just what you’ve been looking for:

3 bedroom, 2 bath home with extra large family room, complete with gas fireplace.

It features wonderful hardwood floors and a spacious kitchen with stainless appliances.

Home has two driveways – one leading to the attached 1-car garage and the second driveway leading to the attached carport.

Level, flat corner lot with garden space and shed.Easy access to everything and easy commute to downtown.

Here are some pics (click images to see larger versions/slideshow):















Here are the details:

WHAT: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Open House

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 29: 1 – 3:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 30: 1 – 4 p.m.

WHERE: 315 S. 168th Street, Burien, WA 98148 (MAP)


  • List Price: $350,000
  • MLS Number: 839949
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 1.5
  • Year Built: 1985
  • House Square Footage: 1,470
  • Lot Square Footage: 7,405

Site Features:

  • Ceiling Fan(s)
  • Dble Pane/Strm Windw
  • Dining Room
  • Security System
  • Fenced-Fully
  • Fenced-Partially
  • Outbuildings
  • Patio
  • RV Parking

Marketing remarks:

Well kept Blakely Manor rambler is in move-in ready condition! Just what you’ve been looking for!

3 bedroom, 2 bath home with extra large family room complete with gas fireplace.

Home features wonderful hardwood floors and spacious kitchen with stainless appliances.

Home has two driveways – one leading to the attached 1 car garage and the second driveway leading to the attached carport.

Level, flat corner lot with garden space and shed.

Easy access to everything and easy commute to downtown.

Click here to see the full, detailed listing.

Click here to view all of Berkshire Hathaway’s Open Houses, and click here to “Like” them on Facebook.

“Spread the Word – School Starts September 3rd!” (and Kindergartners start on September 9).

The first day of school for Highline Public Schools will be Thursday, Sept. 3, for all students except Kindergartners who start on Sept. 9.

Highline Public Schools is among several area school districts starting school before Labor Day this year.

“Every day is important for student learning,” Superintendent Susan Enfield said.

Dr. Enfield is urging local residents to share the message, spread the word – school starts Sept. 3.

Families are encouraged to download Highline’s mobile app and visit the district’s special webpage at www.highlineschools.org/welcomeback for the latest back-to-school information.

Also…courtesy the district, here are the Top 8 Things to Do Before School Starts:

  1. Find a Bus Route – Find your child’s bus route before the first day of school by using our online tool. Search for nearby bus stops by entering your home address.
  2. Update Your Emergency Contact Info – Make sure we have your current phone number and email address so we can reach you quickly during an emergency and keep you up-to-date about what is happening at school. Update your contact information with your school office.
  3. Review Our Emergency DOs & DON’Ts – It’s important to be prepared for an emergency. Student safety is our number one priority. Our schools have safety plans in place to handle natural disasters, security issues, and other emergency situations, in coordination with local law enforcement and first responders. Help us keep your child safe by following these Emergency DOs & DON’Ts.
  4. Download Our Mobile App – The easiest way to stay on top of the latest news, calendar events, and emergency information about your child’s school is to download our free Highline mobile app. You can even access your child’s grades and attendance on your smartphone. Learn more.
  5. Register for Free & Reduced-Priced Meals – Apply online today for free and reduced-priced meals for the school year. All families must reapply each year. The online application only takes a few minutes and is the fastest, easiest way to get approved.
  6. Follow Us on Social Media – Get social with us by liking us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter and Instagram. We share the best photos and news from our schools on social media. Use the hashtag #WeAreHighline to share your own school photos.
  7. Review the Rights & Responsibilities Handbook – An online version of our student Rights and Responsibilities can be found here. Be on the lookout for a printed copy sent home with students at the beginning of the year. Please note the change in the photo-opt out process.
  8. Pick Up a School Supply List – School supply lists can be found online on each school’s website. You can find a directory of school websites here.

View a printable checklist here.

Poverty Bay Blues & Brews Festival from Olav on Vimeo.

This year, the Rotary Club of Des Moines & Normandy Park will be supporting families impacted by forest fires in Washington with ticket sales for this Saturday’s Poverty Bay Blues and Brews Festival.

Five dollars from every ticket sold between now and Saturday will be donated to the victims of Washington wildfires.


Event organizer Brian Snure said Rotarians usually hope for sun on the festival weekend each year, but when rain appeared in the forecast, it was a welcome sign.

“We’ve all been watching the devastating fires, and we can’t be upset about rain since it is so sorely needed right now in Washington,” Snure said. “We are pleased to be able to make this donation and are confident that many people will come out to attend Blues & Brews in the rain! Folks 21 and older are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, umbrellas and their best pair of beer-drinking shoes.”

The festival will go on – RAIN OR SHINE – this Saturday, Aug. 29 from Noon to 8:00 p.m.!

The event will also raise funds for Highline Music4Life, a program that provides musical instruments to children in Highline Public Schools who otherwise couldn’t afford them.

Four world-renowned Seattle-area blues acts will take the stage:

Nineteen local breweries will have craft beer on tap. Hard cider and wine will also be featured. Barbequed tri-tip and other beer-friendly foods will be available for purchase.

Last year’s event saw record breaking attendance, with over 1,600 people from across the Northwest and Canada coming to enjoy world-class blues and dozens of tasty craft brews.

You can find more information at www.DrinkToMusic.org.


The free $10 voucher healthy eating initiative program for qualifying seniors is really taking off as more and more people learn about this program brought to you by partners, the Des Moines Farmers Market and King Conservation District. The vouchers are good for fruits, vegetables and processed food products (bakery items, etc). We are averaging over 40 people receiving vouchers every week. Just come to the information booth to sign up.

Saturdays in August and September, stop by the King County Food: Too Good To Waste booth to learn how to store your market buys to stay fresh and last longer!

Food to Good to Waster

Field Day 5KThe Field Day 5K is coming to the Beach Park on September 12th. This fun event includes a 5K race, field day festivities, fun for the whole family, and the healthiest goody bag in town – it even includes tokens for fresh fruits and vegetables! Registration is now open online and in-person at the Market Information Booth.

Sponsor: Stop by and say hello to long time market sponsor, Vicki Bergquist, State Farm Insurance agent.

Vendor Profile: Looking for fun crafts for your pets, stop by Tails and No Tails booth for toys and more for your pets. Alison King and her daughter Courtnay, sell something different at the market every weekend. But, they always come together to help each other. Alison sells pet items, such as homemade toys, pet beds, pet throws, pet mats, treat jars, mutt mitts, etc. Courtnay King makes fleece quilts, burp cloths, receiving blankets, car seat covers and homemade toys for babies. They have been selling at the market for close to 8 years. They both commented that DMFM is by far their favorite market and manager Rikki Marohl is the best.

Food Trucks: Fish Basket, Fusion on the Run, Jemil’s and Nibbles.

Music: PK Dwyer (10-noon) and 5 Buck Band (noon-2pm).

The Rotary Club of Des Moines and Normandy Park is putting on their annual Poverty Bay Blues and Brews Festival this Saturday at the Beach Park. The proceeds benefit the Highline Music 4 Life program which put instruments in the hands of kids who otherwise might not be able to afford them.

The next Clutter to Cash Sale is coming up on September 19th. Stop by the information booth or go online to complete an application to send in. Remember space is limited so sign up soon.

Also, don’t forget the HYDE Shuttle is providing local door to door transportation to the market to seniors 55 and older and people with disabilities of all ages living in Des Moines, Normandy Park, Burien and this year Sea-Tac. For a ride call 206-727-6262.

The Des Moines Area Food Bank kids free summer meals program is every Saturday at the market till school opens. Snacks are served from 10-11am and lunch from 11:30 to 1pm.

Upcoming Events:

Remember to PITCH IT IN.

To keep up with all the special events, featuring what’s fresh and entertainment at the market, please log onto the website and sign up for our e-newsletter that comes out once a week. You can also keep up on all the activities by visiting the market’s Facebook page.

6th Ferry group

B-17 WASP pilots

Dorothy on P-38

Learn about Women Air Force Service Pilots – aka “WASP” – on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Des Moines Normandy Park Activity Center.

A $2 donation is requested.

Here’s more info:

DEBBIE JENNINGS has followed the WASP and their story since meeting her first Woman Air Force Service Pilot over twenty years ago.

In 2004, Debbie spent nine months with the Seattle area Women Airforce Service Pilots developing the largest WASP exhibit in the country, located at the Seattle Museum of Flight. At the 2006 WASP Conference in Portland, Oregon, Debbie was a producer and interviewer for sixteen WASP interviews filmed by Vulcan Productions/Paul Allen’s “Flying Heritage Collection”.

Additionally, Debbie was asked in 2007 by the local PBS channel to do a ten minute interview with a local WASP to be aired before the Ken Burn’s documentary series “The War” as “Pacific Northwest War Stories”. She is still telling their stories in film so the world will know their contribution to the war effort in the darkest days of WWII.

A table will be set up for display of WASP photos, uniforms and memorabilia.

The Des Moines Normandy Park Activity Center is located at 2045 S. 216th Street in Des Moines.


A special ‘Pre-Funk’ party for Saturday’s Poverty Bay Blues & Brews Festival will be held this Friday night, Aug. 28, at the Normandy Park Towne Center, from 5 – 8 p.m.

There will be live Blues from the Fabulous Roof Shakers, along with cold Brews and Brats.

$3 Pints, $3 Brats and there’s NO COVER CHARGE!

Must be 21 and over to attend.

Normandy Park Towne Center is located at 19900 1st Ave South in Normandy Park.

Sponsored by Normandy Park Towne Center Businesses.

Meet the Candidates Reception - Invite

The Southwest King County Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a “Meet the Candidates” Reception on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton, Seattle Airport Southcenter.

Candidates from Burien, Des Moines, SeaTac, Tukwila and the Port of Seattle are invited to introduce themselves to the members of Southwest King County Chamber.

Brad Goode, News Anchor from KOMO 4 News will be the emcee for the event which is scheduled from 5 – 8 p.m. Candidates will each have three minutes to introduce themselves and will have campaign material available to attendees. The event is open to members of the Southwest King County Chamber of Commerce and their guests.

The Reception will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015 at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Seattle Airport Southcenter, 16500 Southcenter Parkway, Tukwila.

The cost to attend the reception is $20.00, paid by Wednesday, Sept. 16. There will be appetizers, wine and beer provided. Registration can be completed on the Chamber’s website at www.swkcc.org or via the phone by contacting Carol Kolson at 206-575-1633. The event is open to SWKC Chamber members and their guests.

Presenting Sponsors of the event are Boeing and MasterPark. Supporting Sponsors are Louise Strander and Printcom, Inc.. For more information about being a Supporting Sponsor for this event contact Carol Kolson at 206-575-1633.

EDITOR’S NOTE: South King Media will be in attendance, and we’ll be photographing and recording audio of the event for relevant blog posts.

About the Southwest King County Chamber of Commerce
The Southwest King County Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit business organization that has served the business communities of Burien, Des Moines, SeaTac and Tukwila since 1989. The mission of the Chamber is to be a leader in Southwest King County and a regional voice and resource for building business success. The Chamber focuses on business advancement in the region by helping to build and maintain a strong economic environment.

More information available at http://www.swkcc.org.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Waterland Blog nor its staff:]

An open letter to our elected leaders and officials of The City of Des Moines:

The citizens who live and call the City of Des Moines ‘home’ are faced with the biggest battle that they have ever seen. This battle could change the face of our community forever and affect each and everyone of us in the tri-city area of Kent, Federal Way and Des Moines.

The Woodmont Recovery Center is at the heart of the conflict and has heated up the community to a boiling point beyond patience and trust of our civic leaders. Over 250 angry, involved and scared families attended a community meeting on August 18th. People stood up and told Mayor Dave Kaplan and CEO Ken Taylor (of Valley Cities), that this facility is not welcome in our community. Now our city leaders admit to us that “They Screwed Up”. Not only did they screw up, they betrayed each and every one of us. They put their own agenda before the safety of citizens, children and families.

Our city leaders got us into this mess, and now they have to get us out of it. To address the city councilman and city officials who chose not to attend our community meeting… I can safely say there are a lot of people in this community fighting this battle who do not think much of your leadership and the direction you are taking our city.

As for the independent third party examiner, Theodore Hunter, that our city hired to hold the public meeting and approve this facility…Shame on you. The gravity and magnitude of this decision should be career ending. Blatantly disregarding the existence of an elementary school while placing a drug, alcohol, psychiatric and methadone clinic within 674 feet of it is not only a question in moral judgement but also worth evaluating the decision making process. The City of Des Moines is nearly insolvent and bankrupt. Combine that with a reduced police force (four officers at any given time) and a local government with agenda’s other than the safety and protection of families, and we will be looking at a war zone in the Woodmont area. The jurisdictional lines are clouded at this intersection with Federal Way to the south and Kent to the east. Who will be taking responsibility for responding to the increased crime in this area? Did you consider and negotiate that with our neighboring cities?

To City Manager, Tony Piasecki. You are so out of touch with the citizens of Des Moines. At the last city council meeting, you felt threatened by one of our citizens, so you requested an officer to be in attendance. This man took time out of his day to attend a city council meeting with his young son. You recognized him from the community meeting held at Woodmont Elementary School. He was vocal about his fears, passionate about his anger and demanded answers from the panel. He spoke for 99% of the people in the gymnasium that night. Instead of listening to his message and respecting his opinion, you reacted in fear and sought protection. Everyone in the Woodmont community is asking for you to listen, respect our opinions, react to OUR fears and PROVIDE protection. The thing is, you get protection by flagging down an officer. We aren’t so privileged. Our safety and welfare will be dependent on the negotiations of a ‘Good Neighbor Agreement’ by the Des Moines City Council and Valley Cities…both parties who have shown no regard for our best interests but expect us to trust them.

Our city leaders continue to show zero transparency with this facility. Further proof of this can be found in our Fall 2015 City Currents newsletter. Did you read the full story? It’s not mentioned on the cover or in the ‘What’s Inside Index’. If you can’t find it, it’s because it’s not there. It is conveniently hidden in a single sentence on page six. Read it and see if you feel fully informed. The bottom line is that we cannot give this project the support it needs. If our leaders won’t make our children and community come first, then the citizens will!

– John Castronover

[Have an opinion or concern you’d like to share with our Readers? Please send us your Letter to the Editor via email. Include your full name, please remain civil and, pending our review, we’ll consider publishing it.]

Grace Lutheran Church in Des Moines, along with Medical Teams International, are sponsoring a free dental clinic for low income families (with no dental insurance). 

Additional clinics will be added before the end of the year as volunteer dental staff become available.

Grace Lutheran is located at 22975 24th Ave South.

For further information: call 206.817.3698.

Current dates are:

  • August 26
  • September 8, 9 and 15
  • October 6 and 21
  • November 3
  • December 1

Grace is also sponsoring a DIAPER DRIVE at the Des Moines Waterfront Farmers Market on Saturday, Sept. 12 during KIDS’ DAY!

Mayor Dave Kaplan.

Mayor Dave Kaplan.

by Jack Mayne

Mayor Dave Kaplan and Des Moines City Councilmembers say they would like to move the site of the approved Woodmont recovery center, but state law says such “essential public facilities” cannot be blocked by city ordinances or zoning.

Even so, they say they will try to convince the developers to locate it elsewhere.

Despite the request of area residents, there will not be a formal 120-day time out for research before negotiating and approving a “good neighborhood agreement” that is necessary to be completed five months before the facility can open.

But Woodmont area residents were told at the Council meeting Thursday night (Aug. 20) that it would take longer than that just to get any such agreement formulated.

More objections
Council on Thursday heard more complaints over the plan that many residents and some Council members heard about only days earlier last week.

That plan is to build a drug, alcohol and mental health treatment center in their neighborhood along Pacific Highway in south Des Moines.

Valley Cities Counseling and Consultation of Kent plan to build a 19,665 square foot mental health evaluation and treatment facility with 24 beds, a 25,340 square foot detoxification facility with 40 beds, along with an office building, a dispensary clinic, and meeting facility at 26915 Pacific Highway South.

Failed due diligence
Candace Urquhart said on Thursday night what she and others had told the Council two nights before that she wanted to “formally request” a 120-day research period. That request was initially discussed at the Tuesday (Aug. 18) meeting attended by about 250 people, where about 45 of them said the plan was bad for their neighborhood and to put it anywhere but in their neighborhood.

“We request the city take the time to do the due diligence it failed to do before recommending approval and permitting this facility,” Urquhart said. “This period should be completed to the satisfaction of the citizens prior to entering into any so-called ‘good neighbor agreement.’”

She said the city had “sat on information they had regarding this proposal instead of informing themselves or their citizens. We trust that this period will allow the City of Des Moines, the Federal Way School District, concerned citizen groups and the King County Library, Safeway and other stakeholders to dive deep and study other facilities both nationally and locally in order to identify best practices.”

Urquhart, as others had on Aug. 18, said “the cumulative effects caused by this new facility where drug addicts will visit six times a week to receive a methadone fix must be studied thoroughly before the doors can open.

“We are curious (how) you fund the 10 or 12 new police officers that we will need to keep our children, school and streets safe if this methadone clinic is allowed to open.”

Without money for public safety available, Urquhart said, “no agreement can be implemented. Valley Cities should come up with the money, not the taxpayers of our bankrupt city.”

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Laura Castronover said people coming for methadone treatment “will be coming over to Woodmont area right next to Woodmont Elementary. That is unacceptable. Find another location.”

Anywhere but here
Resident Laura Castronover said she “urged everything in their power to make sure the recovery center is relocated somewhere else beside next to a school. I don’t think you guys did due diligence informing us citizens. I talked to the police chief and he was only aware of this about six months ago.

“You guys are trying to make sure we don’t hear about this because in your City Currents (publication), you only have one sentence about this: ‘Recovery center is getting ready to break ground,’” Castronover said, and that the one sentence was in a paragraph about Highline College construction, not about a drug rehab facility as large as the proposal.

“That is unacceptable. You need to do due diligence and provide information to us and to the chief of police in time to understand how much of an impact this is going to be on us.”

She said that those undergoing methadone treatment are going to get it for life so they are unemployable anywhere where a drug test is required.

“People will be coming over to Woodmont area right next to Woodmont Elementary. That is unacceptable. Find another location.”

Move seems unlikely
Councilmember Vic Pennington said there was a need for such clinics “but really I don’t think it needs to be there.

“I know that Mayor Pro-Tem Pina, Mayor Kaplan, City Manager Piasecki and other staff members are beginning to enter into conversations with Valley Cities and other elected officials in the area to look at moving that facility to another location or, at the very least, finding a way to mitigate the major problems there.”

Kaplan said they were trying but it would be difficult to change the location.

Pennington said “essential public facilities” must be sited by cities and that state law overrides any local zoning or other issues, so he moved to have a city ordinance drafted that would in the future require notifying everyone in the city, not just those who are 300 or 600 feet from the potential site that has been the city rule.

“This is a city-wide issue, it affects … not just one area,” Pennington said. Then Kaplan said “this is where we fell down … and, obviously we are working our way through it now, I agree that any essential facility that comes to the city it should go citywide” whenever it comes up for consideration.

A motion to have such an ordinance drafted passed unanimously as did a Pennington’s request to try for a 120-day waiting period.

City Manager Tony Piasecki said that likely would not be a problem because the hearing examiner had already said Valley Cities Counseling and Consultation of Kent had to have such an agreement in place five months before they could open.

“There is a lot of work they need to do, there is a lot of work we need to do in order to make that all come together,” Piasecki said. “I don’t see that time frame becoming any kind of legal issue.”

Emotions and talking
“There is a lot of emotions on a lot of different subjects,” Pennington said. “I really believe that face-to-face, looking somebody in the eye and talking to them is the way to communicate.”

Pro-Tem Mayor Matt Pina agreed, “There was a clear message – a great need, the wrong location.”

“I am committed to do what I can with this Council within the confines of the law as it’s before us,” Pina said. “But I really do appreciate it when the community comes out and provides us with their insight. We really do appreciate hearing from all of you.”

“The process by which that came about is legal; the challenges are usually with large projects, there is something that an applicant wants so it will usually come to Council, they want some change, but that wasn’t the case in this instance. They didn’t ask for anything, they didn’t ask for any change in zoning … so it never came to Council directly.”

Kaplan said because of state law, that with “essential public facilities, our hands get tied sometimes – even if I don’t personally want it there.”

He said, yet again, that a project this large needed to be more widely disseminated to the public and that so many found out about it only in the last couple of weeks caused people to be upset.

Carefully, and deliberately, Kaplan said, “we are working on strategies to get the facility moved, some of those are going to be very difficult or long-shot. We are also working on trying to get this dispensary – the methadone piece of it taken out, that is complicated as well, but we are looking at all the options in trying to get this facility either moved or mitigated completely and, if we are not able to get it moved, we need and want the community’s input and participation as part of the good neighbor agreement.

“The Council agrees that we need some time to be able to so some additional research which will help better tailor whatever comes out of the process in the end but we are also going to need your participation to make sure that nothing is missed,” the mayor said.

Celebrating its 58th anniversary, Brown Bear Car Wash will be giving out FREE washes to cars and trucks this Thursday (Aug. 27), including at its location in Des Moines.

Hours for the special all day event are from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

The Des Moines branch is located at 22706 Marine View Drive South.

Here’s more info:

For the past nine years, Family-owned Brown Bear has offered free “Beary Clean” tunnel washes twice a year. Last year’s anniversary event generated 26,437 free washes, bringing the combined total of complimentary anniversary and free Veterans Day washes to over 225,000.

For locations and hours of Brown Bear’s automated “tunnel wash” locations in the Puget Sound area visit www.brownbear.com.

Adding to the fun and value, this Thursday only, one lucky customer will be selected to receive free car washes for a year: an annual membership to Brown Bear’s Unlimited Wash Club. Enter to win by taking a photo of your newly washed vehicle and posting it on Twitter (@brownbear) or Instagram (@brownbearcarwash) with the hashtag #FreeCarWashDay.

Founder Vic Odermat started Brown Bear in Seattle with one location at 15th Ave West in Seattle.  Brown Bear now owns and operates a total of 43 car washes throughout the Puget Sound area and Spokane.  

Through its parent company, Seattle-based Car Wash Enterprises, Inc., owns and operates car wash facilities in Washington State as well as a large network of gas stations and convenience stores.  It is one of the largest privately held car wash chains in the U.S. and is widely recognized within the industry as being a leader in the environmental movement.

by Tess Riski

On Aug. 29th from Noon-8 p.m., the Des Moines Rotary Club will host the 6th annual Blues & Brews Festival.

As Pacific Northwesterners flock from near and far, the Des Moines Beach Park will burst alive with gritty bang-up blues groups and 20+ top-notch local and regional Micro-Brews. Yet the perks aren’t limited to good music and cold beer; the event serves as a fundraiser for a multitude of local projects, the chief benefactor being the Highline Music4Life program.

According to music4life.org/highline, Highline School District Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield concurs that, “All students should have the opportunity to participate fully in arts education.” The Music4Life program, which began back in 2007, aims to do just that. Gently used musical instruments are acquired from adults. They are then fully repaired and donated to the children of low-income families. As the effects of budget cuts continue to sting, the maintenance of programs like Highline Music4Life is critical for both the academic and emotional development of youth.

Des Moines Rotary Club President Janel Stoneback states that, “The main reason we put it on is because it supports the Highline Music4Life program which is our main benefactor.” But the benefits are not limited to just one cause: “It allows us to support other programs in the community.” These programs range from youth assistance programs like the Elementary School Dictionary Program to community service projects such as the Des Moines Food Bank Backpack Program.

100% of the proceeds received during the Blues & Brews Festival benefit the Des Moines Rotary Club’s charitable projects.

Tickets cost $25 in advance at bluesandbrewsfest.org and $30 at the gate.

WLB Real Estate Sponsor Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Northwest’s Open House – set for this Sunday, Aug. 23 – is a grand West Seattle Entertainment Home!

This home features 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 3 kitchens AND a mother-in-law.

Entertain your guest from the bar/foyer entry to the penthouse floor with views of the entire Seattle Skyline!

Tile roof, Cedar Siding, updated fine finishes throughout the home, which could be a great vacation rental as well.

Located across the street from Don Armeni Park, and minutes to all the amenities along Alki.

A Must See Home!

Here are some pics (click images to see larger versions/slideshow):

















Here are the details:

WHAT: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Open House

WHEN: Sunday, Aug. 23, from Noon – 3 p.m.

WHERE: 4013 SW Maryland Place, West Seattle, WA 98116 (MAP)


  • List Price: $1,050,000
  • MLS Number: 807249
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 2.75
  • Year Built: 1985
  • Lot Square Footage: 3,750

Site Features:

  • 2nd Kitchen
  • Wet Bar
  • Wine Cellar
  • Dining Room
  • Skylights
  • Vaulted Ceilings
  • Walk-in Closet

Marketing remarks:

Welcome to Emerald City’s Grand West Seattle Entertainment Home!

This home features 3 Kitchens with a mother in law.

Entertain your guest from the bar/foyer entry to the penthouse floor with views of the entire Seattle Skyline!

4 Bedroom, 3 Bath. Tile roof, Cedar Siding, updated fine finishes throughout the home!

This home could be a great vacation rental as well.

Across the street from Don Armeni Park and minutes to all the amenities along Alki.

A Must See Home!

Click here to see the full, detailed listing.

Click here to view all of Berkshire Hathaway’s Open Houses, and click here to “Like” them on Facebook.


New York Times Bestselling mystery author J.A. Jance will discuss and sign her new thriller (and 51st novel), “Dance of the Bones,” at Advertiser Wesley Homes on Wednesday, Sept. 9, from 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Her latest book – “Dance of the Bones” – will be released Sept. 8. In this book, Jance brings together two beloved protagonists, J.P. Beaumont and Brandon Walker, in her most suspenseful novel yet. Jance will talk about her life, writing career, years on the reservation, the importance of The Circle, and will also answer questions. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

About the speaker:

J.A. Jance is a New York Times bestselling and award-winning mystery author with more than 20 million books in print. Jance’s writing career spans three decades and includes more than fifty books in four different series—Ali Reynolds, J.P. Beaumont, Joanna Brady, and the Walker Family, along with a volume of poetry. Although she was once denied entry into a university level Creative Writing course, she didn’t let that stop her from living her dream and becoming a writer. Born in South Dakota and raised in Bisbee, Arizona, she and her husband, Bill, split their time between homes in Arizona and Washington State accompanied by their rescued miniature dachshund, Bella, and new puppy, Johanna.

This event will be held at Wesley Homes Des Moines, in the Terrace Auditorium, located at 816 S. 216th St. + Google Map

Phone: 206-824-5000

More info at:


The Clutter to Cash Sale was a huge hit last Saturday, even the sun came out most of the day. Shoppers enjoined lots of great bargains. We have been asked by the participants to hold another one before our season ends. I just learned that a date has been set for September 19th. Stop by the information booth or go online to complete an application to send in.

Puget Sound Blood Center will be at the market this Saturday.  Summer does not mean less need for blood. As a matter of fact, with people being more active, demand for blood goes up in the summer. This means there are fewer donors available at a time of the year when the need increases. Look for the bus parked at the market entrance. Click HERE to schedule an appointment.

Canning JarWhere does the time go when you are having fun? As the market reaches its half-way point, it is time to think about your fall canning projects. Fruits and vegetables are in full bloom right now. Some vendors have canning items and can give you tips to get you started.

Field Day 5KWe’re excited to announce a new event: the Field Day 5K, coming to the Beach Park on September 12th. This fun event includes a 5K race, field day festivities, fun for the whole family, and the healthiest goody bag in town – it even includes tokens for fresh fruits and vegetables! Registration is now open online and in-person at the Market Information Booth.

Bow Life BowVendor Profile:  Bow Life & More specializes in products that include: hair bows, crocheted items, and paracord bracelets. They have merchandise items for people of all ages, and they can do custom orders.  You can order the product from their website or come see them at the market or any of the events on their calendar, details can be found on their Facebook page calendar.

Food Trucks: Curb Jumper Street Eats, Fusion on the Run, Nibbles, Spicy Papaya

Music: Pure Sparks and The Fabulous Mojo Kings

The Rotary Club of Des Moines and Normandy Park will have a booth this Saturday to promote their annual Poverty Bay Blues and Brews Festival. The festival this year is on August 29th at the Beach Park. Don’t forget, you can buy your discount tickets at the Farmers Market Wine booth. The proceeds benefit the Highline Music 4 Life program which put instruments in the hands of kids who otherwise might be able to afford them.

Qualifying seniors can sign up and receive a $10 voucher every week for fruits and vegetables courtesy of the Farmers Market’s and King Conservation District’s healthy eating initiative. To see if you are eligible, check in at the information booth. This wonderful program will go on all season.  Also, don’t forget HYDE Shuttle is providing local door to door transportation to the market to seniors 55 and older and people with disabilities of all ages living in Des Moines, Normandy Park, Burien and this year Sea-Tac. For a ride call 206-727-6262.

The Des Moines Area Food Bank kids free summer meals program is every Saturday at the market. Snacks are served from 10-11am and lunch from 11:30 to 1pm. There are also free meals at the Sunset Market. Snacks are from 3-4pm and dinner is 4:30 to 6:30pm.

There are only two Sunset Markets let on Wednesday from 3-7pm. There are over 30 vendors and plenty of Food Trucks. Enjoy special guest speakers on different gardening tips at the Tent Talks series.

Upcoming Events: 

Remember to PITCH IT IN.

To keep up with all the special events, featuring what’s fresh and entertainment at the market, please log onto the web site and sign up for our e-newsletter that comes out once a week. You can also keep up on all the activities by visiting the markets Facebook page.


The acronyms “NIMBY = NLMEO” – which meant “Not In My Back Yard = No Longer My Elected Official” was posted on the wall. Photo by Scott Schaefer.

by Jack Mayne

Woodmont area residents made it clear Tuesday night during a long and loud hearing that they were furious about a plan to build a drug, alcohol and mental health treatment center in their neighborhood along Pacific Coast Highway in south Des Moines.

At the Woodmont Elementary School Tuesday night (Aug. 18) there were only rare comments in favor of Valley Cities Counseling and Consultation of Kent plan to build a 19,665 square foot mental health evaluation and treatment facility with 24 beds, a 25,340 square foot detoxification facility with 40 beds, along with an office building, a dispensary clinic, and meeting facility at 26915 Pacific Highway South.

There were derisive laughter, shouts, calls to respect opposing comments followed by loud rounds of applause and even boos as they condemned construction that has already been approved by a Des Moines-hired hearing examiner.

In April a hearing examiner held a public hearing, then approved a conditional use permit “to allow phased construction of a medical and mental health recovery campus,” but added some conditions the developer must meet.

If Valley Cities fulfills the conditions laid down by the hearing examiner and gets necessary city permits (conditions are in our Waterland Blog story dated Aug. 17 here), the facility will be built.

About the only thing that could foil the developer is a successful lawsuit, a doubtful potential because of past court decisions.

One big problem has cropped up and that is the fact the city only alerted people 600 feet from the development site. When residents heard that Tuesday night, there were loud shouts and angry, some unprintable, comments.

City Manager Tony Piasecki admitted to the crowd that maybe many more people should have been alerted, even though 17 close neighbors did attend and comment during the April session. The hearing examiner – because of a law that says “essential public facilities” must be allowed regardless of local zoning – disregarded their comments.

Des Moines Mayor Dave Kaplan went even further in a Facebook comment Wednesday.

“The City screwed up,” Kaplan wrote. “With such a large project, notice should have gone out citywide. We own that and will change that process.

“I know that’s little consolation for those who don’t want the facility, though even protests that would have been registered back in March/April would not have changed the outcome. The law was on the applicant’s side. That is why the good neighbor agreement needs community input.”

Nearly bankrupt city
At the calm and respectful beginning of the Tuesday night meeting, April Chavarria said she had asked for the meeting “for a chance for us to have our voices heard, our concerns heard.”

Chavarria asked the standing room audience of over 200 at the Woodmont Elementary School to be respectful of both sides of the issue attending the meeting, adding “We are still neighbors.”

Then she turned it over to “one of our neighbors.”

Candace Urquhart said people have worked hard to alert the citizens of Des Moines “that were in the dark about decision that the city had made for us. Tonight’s meeting is about hearing from our citizens.”

She said Des Moines is “nearly bankrupt and is severely understaffed at all levels, most importantly, our police department which currently can’t contain the crime we have.”

“Des Moines has done its fair share to support King County and its social services by taking on the jail, the newly developed Des Moines Section 8 housing,” the medical center and the largest marijuana dispensary between Seattle and Tacoma.

“Bottom line, we cannot give this project the support it needs for its patients, our children and our community,” Urquhart said.

“It is possible that there has never been a rehabilitation center this size in our county before. This is too great of a social experiment to test on our bankrupt city. The unknown combination of a marijuana dispensary, a methadone clinic and the drug and prostitute-infested Pacific Highway could devastate this area.”

No due diligence
“Ultimately, we do not believe the city did not do due diligence by including its citizens on a decision that could change the face of our city,” Urquhart told the audience. “Our city should have taken the time and great pains to study other facilities, both nationally and locally, in order to identify best practices.”

“All the information is needed to make truly educated decision,” Urquhart said. “We look forward to this happening with full transparency from citizens from Des Moines, Federal Way and Kent because we all will be … affected.”

She suggested a 120-day moratorium on he project “until these reports and studies are completed to the satisfaction of the citizens of Des Moines and the bordering communities.”

Developer defends plan
Ken Taylor, the chief executive officer of Valley Cities Counseling and Consultation, headquartered in Kent, said he wished there were “thousands of meetings like this around the country” because there are tens of thousands of people with mental health and substance abuse issues.

“Most of us, if we are honest, know somebody in our family who has experienced one or both or maybe we have even experienced ourself. They’re not going anywhere, they are here, they are at the library, they are up and down Pacific Highway as we speak. Valley Cities has been here for 50 years. When Woodmont Recovery campus opens we will be at our 10th location.”

Taylor said the company wants to create “a place where they can get all the services they need at one place. We have enough money to only build one building and that is the evaluation treatment center” in Des Moines.

Valley Cities is a non-profit and has received money from King County to help with startup and capital costs of the facility, as well as a $5 million grant from the state of Washington for the center and improvements to the Des Moines site.

He said he was aware of concern over the dispensary because people could “potentially” get methadone there, adding, “if the dispensary is ever built, one of our partner agencies for treatment services would operate” it as they do others in the county.

“Whether or not we want to admit it, we have a heroin epidemic … in King County,” Taylor said, “we have more than a person a day dying of heroin overdose.”

If the project is fully built at the Pacific Highway site, there will be about 250 employees and it will be an economic gain for the area. The staff will live, work and spend money in the Des Moines area, he said.

Will provide security
Taylor also said he was happy to negotiate with the neighbors, with the city or county on how the organization will respond to emergencies, how they will provide security and how they will deal with law enforcement and ordinances.

He said they scoured the county and found only two sites, this one and one that was sold to another buyer in Auburn. If the facility is not here, there just will be no treatment services available in south King County.

Jim Vollendorf, King County director of mental health and chemical abuse division, said, “we want this project to be a good neighbor.” He said there are 500 area people going every day to downtown Seattle for treatment because there is no treatment for them in south King County.

Navos does operate in West Seattle and in Burien, but that is all.

The courts had ruled it is unconstitutional not to have facilities to treat these people, Vollendorf said.

Can’t keep people safe
One resident, who said he was trained in abuse counseling, told the hearing that it only takes one facility patient to cause problems.

“How in the hell are you going to ensure that nobody is going to break out? This is almost impossible. How can you be sure that everybody is going to be safe?”

Another person wanted to know how Valley Services was going to protect his family and the others in the 17th Place South area. “I want to know how you are going to protect my family and the families of others?”

A woman said, “There is a need for a treatment center, we have a huge problem with drug addiction, there is no question about it,” she said. “Putting sober ones next door to addicts is insanity.

“They are addicts, they have problems; they poop in public because they are addicts. We will need patrol cars up and down our street all day long.”

Then, a woman who worked at a methadone clinic said people were “far worse than you understand,” committing crimes and hurting people. Heroin addicts will do almost anything for their fix.

“Community crime here is not going to go away, it is going to get worse,” the woman said. “Lock your windows, lock you homes. Don’t carry your purse.”

The hall filled with shouts and laughter.

Another person said she had a PhD degree and “I am not stupid,” but she is an addict. “I not an addict to throw needles on the floor. They are already there.”

“By whom?”

“They didn’t get their by themselves.”

The shouts and catcalls caused Mayor Dave Kaplan to urge calm and that everyone would get a chance.

Another said, “If we want them to listen to us, we need to listen to them. We don’t have to agree.”

Then a woman got applause when she said she was an addict but there were no beds in western Washington to take her.

“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for places like this.”

A father of three got hearty applause when he said there were other places for such a facility.

Then today, Mayor Kaplan said he was listening to the 200-plus people at the meeting.

“I was listening to everything each person had to say. It did register with me. I appreciate and understand the concerns that were expressed, even as I’m frustrated that people think we elected officials have unlimited powers in all circumstances.”

Here are photos taken by Scott Schaefer at the event (click images to see larger versions/slideshow):

























Artist renderings courtesy Valley Cities Mental Health.

by Jack Mayne

A 20,000 square foot mental health and medical facility along Pacific Highway in far southeast Des Moines has been approved despite objections of nearby residents.

The facility was approved by a city-hired hearing examiner, and it does not need the further approval of the Des Moines City Council, according to City Manager Tony Piasecki.

A public hearing called by Des Moines Mayor Dave Kaplan will be held on the proposal this Tuesday night (Aug. 18) from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Woodmont Elementary School. The hearing is to allow the developer to explain how they will operate the facility and to respond to citizen questions and concerns.

The project
Valley Cities Counseling and Consultation of Kent will build a 19,665 square foot mental health evaluation and treatment facility with 24 beds, a 25,340 square foot detoxification facility with 40 beds, a 34,160 square foot main office building, a 7,200 square foot dispensary clinic, and an 8,340 square foot common meeting facility at 26915 Pacific Highway South:

Hearing examiner Theodore Paul Hunter, after an April 3 public hearing, approved a Conditional Use permit “to allow phased construction of a medical and mental health recovery campus,” but added some conditions the developer must meet.

Approval came despite objections of several nearby residents of the Woodmont neighborhood who complained the facility was too close to schools, libraries and their homes where children lived.

The objections
During the April hearing, many nearby residents argued against such a facility in their neighborhood.

Jamie Culver testified he was especially concerned about the proposal’s proximity to a local elementary school and library and said the recent opening of a house for heroin addicts has caused problems in the neighborhood.

Megan Culver, another local resident, testified in April that she, too, has had a number of problems with the nearby “heroin house” on 6th Avenue South. Problems include property damage, people knocking on her door in the middle of the night, and slow police response times to disruptive incidents at the halfway house.

Culver said treatment facilities should not be located adjacent to residential zones and that the city should focus on helping children, not drug addicts.

Terry Potvin testified his property would be approximately 40 feet from the detox facility. He said he has two grandchildren that live with him and is especially concerned that a six-foot fence would not “adequately address privacy and safety concerns.” He believes the proposal is incompatible with the existing land use patterns in the area and expressed concern over the facility’s proximity to the school and the effect that it will have on neighborhood property values.

Chelene Bird, an adjacent property owner, said the community already has problems with drugs and prostitution and believes that the proposed facility would increase these negative impacts. She, too, was concerned the proposed six-foot fence is not high enough to address safety concerns and that additional landscaping would only provide “more hiding places” for illicit activity.

Bird said allowing the facility would destroy the quality of life in the adjacent residential neighborhoods.

Bryan Whiting, another area resident, said he was concerned that patients will roam the residential neighborhoods and that the facility would overwhelm police and fire services. Whiting testified in April that, although he recognizes these facilities are needed somewhere, they should be sited away from residential areas.

CEO cites successes
Ken Taylor, the Chief Executive Officer of Valley Cities Counseling and Consultation, headquartered in Kent, defended the application.

He noted similar objections of a facility involving 24 apartments for people with severe mental illnesses when it was proposed near a residential area in Auburn five years ago.

Now that Auburn site is being doubled and there is no opposition from neighboring residents or the community.

Taylor said Valley Cities was formed in 1965 as a non-profit community mental health agency, “dedicated to providing holistic, integrated mental health services for people of all ages.”

Valley Services says it currently provides services in six neighborhood clinics, including Auburn, Bellevue, Federal Way, Kent, Midway and Renton, and will open a clinic “soon” in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of south Seattle.

Valley Cities’ website http://www.valleycities.org/about/contact/ says its services include “licensed mental health counseling; chemical dependency treatment for adults; domestic violence services for survivors and perpetrators; homeless outreach services and housing programs; family support programs; and specialized veterans services that deliver counseling and family support services to veterans, active duty military, and their families.”

The company says it serves all age groups, low-income families and “the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Open by next spring
At the April hearing Taylor said the first phase of construction would involve building the mental health treatment facility by the spring of 2016. The detox facility would be built as the second phase of construction. The goal is to have all the buildings operational by 2018.

Des Moines officials “analyzed the environmental impacts of the project” and determined “the proposal would not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment,” the hearing examiner’s report said.

But they did place eight conditions on the developer.

Valley Cities must “enter into a separate agreement” with Des Moines to “mitigate impacts on public services, and City Manager Tony Piasecki said that could include a payment for increased police services and other services provided to the facility.

There must be a “return to city of origin” agreement, which means that a patient, say from Auburn, must be taken to Auburn for release, and cannot be released in Des Moines. A similar agreement exists with people released from the regional SCORE jail in Des Moines, Piasecki said.

Other requirements include an agreement on lighting, parking and reporting items of archeological or historic significance to appropriate authorities.

The facility must have “a 100 percent site obscuring fence at least six feet tall along portions of the property abutting residential areas” and Valley Cities must “establish and enforce a strict policy prohibiting loitering.”

Mental Health Bias
CEO Taylor told the April hearing that state and federal courts have “recognized that Washington’s mental health system has serious problems and have both ruled that Pierce and King Counties, in particular, have consistently violated the constitutional rights of the mentally ill by holding them in jail or emergency rooms for extended periods while awaiting competency evaluations and treatment.”

He said his company’s facility would provide “a small step toward repairing this system and stressed that this proposal does not involve an incarceration facility but, instead, a treatment facility specifically designed to meet the growing needs of an underserved population.”

Taylor also told the hearing examiner that he recognized that neighboring property owners are concerned about the facility.

“He testified that patients receiving involuntary treatment (both mental health patients and detox patients) are under lock and key 24 hours per day and would not be able to leave the locked facility.”

We’re curious to find out what YOU think – please take our Poll below:

Should the Woodmont Recovery Center be built in Des Moines?

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