By Mellow DeTray

At Thursday night’s (Oct. 6, 2022) Des Moines Council meeting, a naming contest was announced for a Downtown alley, an update was given on the SCORE Jail, public feedback heard on the Fast Ferry, a skybridge was approved and more.

Public Comments
Community members spoke about the importance of beach safety, concerns over losing their view to proposed hotel development, as well as problems with graffiti, which the Council answered are currently being cleaned up.

Naming Contest for Downtown Alley
Council unanimously agreed to officially name the alley between Marine View Drive and 7th Ave South, in downtown Des Moines. The alley is the main entryway for one business and multiple residences, and having an official name will make it more easily accessible for first responders as well as others who wish to find these locations. The contest is inspired by other cities that have famous alleys, like Post Alley in Downtown Seattle.

SCORE Correctional Facility update
Devon Schrum gave a presentation to Council regarding the financial operations of the correctional facility, which is located in Des Moines but co-owned and funded by Auburn, Burien, Renton, Seatac, Tukwila, and Des Moines. Covid created a $6.8 million dollar deficit; expenses for protective equipment went up and revenue dropped as capacity went from 650 to less than 300. Costs were cut in many ways, including switching to paperless billing and a moderate reduction in staff. The remaining deficit was made up for with grant revenue. A share of ARPA funds have been requested from owner cities as well.

Like so many employers in recent years, SCORE has also dealt with high staff attrition and fatigue. They have managed to fill all positions, however, and settled on a labor contract with better retention incentives. They are also actively mentoring future recruits.

Despite these struggles, the facility remains a model for others in its field, in both its hiring practices and the running of the jail itself. Their six year plan includes painting the entire interior, updating surveillance cameras, and improving the HVAC system to keep up with climate change. The facility costs less now to owner cities than it did in 2014, and Devon brought to Council the idea of temporary contracts with other cities to fill more beds. The jail is currently not near capacity, and a more full and efficiently run jail, as well as an increase in revenue, would help reduce costs for owner cities.

Assistant City Attorney Matt Hutchins (left) and City Manager Michael Matthias at Thursday night’s meeting.

Public Feedback on Fast Ferry
The City Manager reported on feedback received at a recent community meeting, which around 100 people attended. The trial run of the passenger ferry to Seattle is currently set to end on Oct. 9, but there is strong interest in keeping it going. People requested weekday commuter times, departing Des Moines between 8-10 a.m. and leaving Seattle between 7-8 p.m.

Wesley Skybridge approved, Redondo Boat Ramp floats rejected
Council approved Wesley Homes retirement community to build a skybridge over the roadway separating buildings in their facility. This will allow safer crossing for their staff, as well as function as a place for the City to hang signs regarding community events

The council voted unanimously to reject the bids for building the Redondo Boat Ramp boarding floats. The cost of these bids greatly increased due to supply chain issues as well as labor shortages.

Download the full agenda packet here.

Below is full video of the meeting:

Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in Burien. She has volunteered at many local establishments over the years, including the Burien Library, Burien Actors Theatre, and Hot Feet Fitness. After working for ten years at Burien Community Center, she moved on to teaching fitness classes and to work the front desk of a Burien yoga studio. For many years Mellow kept a moderately popular cooking & lifestyle blog, and she had a brief stint in political journalism during a local election. Clear and informative writing has always been a side hobby of Mellow’s and she looks forward to bringing you unbiased coverage of City Council meetings.