By Mellow Detray

Here’s our recap of the Des Moines City Council Study Session held on Thursday, April 6, 2023:

Employee Recognition

To begin the meeting, City Manager Michael Matthias called out two city employees who have gone above and beyond. Katy Bevegni, Assistant Harbormaster, is now one of just 73 Certified Marina Operators (CMO) worldwide. This prestigious certification requires extensive training and courses, and distinguishes Bevegni as an outstanding marina professional.

Terryann Dell was recognized as the longest tenured city employee, beginning in 1992 in the office of the Police Department and moving to IT Support in 2019. Dell has a variety of responsibilities, including recently acting as project manager for a new financial and payroll system. This change helps to save the city money because payroll can now be managed in-house. Dell is excited about her work, committed, and capable.

Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs Accreditation 

Police Chief Ken Thomas gave an update on the police station’s recent WASPC re-accreditation. Chief Thomas explained that this accreditation is difficult to achieve, and even more difficult to maintain. He said that only 20% of police stations in the state are accredited. WASPC accreditation increases public confidence in the police, decreases susceptibility to litigation, and intensifies administrative effectiveness. It also reduces the cost to the city of insurance coverage. 

After his update, City Manager Matthias said that Chief Thomas, who will be retiring soon, has done an excellent job creating a culture of accountability within the police force.

City Council Goal Setting

Councilmembers took turns speaking on issues they each thought were important items to be addressed or improved in the near future. 

Councilmember JC Harris brought up the need for city website updates, with improved links to meetings, and a way for viewers to get pinged if meeting schedules change. He also said there should be more localized, neighborhood reporting on crime, and community meetings that are zoom accessible. He mentioned as well that Cecil Powell park needs some more effort and attention to make it usable for children and families.

Councilmember Harry Steinmetz spoke of the heightened need for both warming & cooling stations, with increasing swings in the climate. He suggested using the senior center for this, possibly staffing it with volunteers from the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to keep costs down.

Deputy Mayor Traci Buxton mentioned prioritizing public safety, and wants to have a serious conversation about how to continue funding the positions that are currently being paid for with ARPA funds. Those funds can be used until the end of 2026, but after that alternative sources for funding will be needed. She also wants to come up with a system for welcoming and wayfinding for ferry users. The likely opening day for Des Moines to Seattle passenger ferry is May 13th.

Councilmember Jeremy Nutting spoke to the need for the city to have emergency mental health specialists available after 6pm. He also would like to see parks and greenspaces expanded, and mentioned that the website needs to be made mobile-friendly.

Councilmember Gene Achziger brought up the health impacts on the community due to the proximity of the airport, as detailed in a recent study. He would like the city to focus on ways to lessen those impacts, especially to children. Achziger also said more active Parks & Rec programming is needed.

Mayor Matt Mahoney is excited to pursue and find more economic drivers to improve the local economy. He said there are tremendous opportunities for this, in multiple directions, and would like to see some kind of advertising materials to give potential developers.

Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in Burien. 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.