Here’s our recap of the Des Moines City Council meeting held on Thursday night, Feb. 22, 2024:

Public Comments

The first speaker addressed concerns about the coming paid parking at the marina. She said she participates in Parkrun, a free international event that takes place every Saturday morning at the Marina. This event draws anywhere from dozens to a hundred participants each week, and people come from neighboring cities as well as across the world to take part. Parkrun is a volunteer-run, timed 5K run and walk along Des Moines Creek Trail, and occurs at the same time at thousands of other locations worldwide. The speaker worried event participation would be hindered by a toll on parking, and that others seeking the marina park would head to Seahurst instead, where parking is free. She offered the solution of only charging for parking from dusk to dawn, which would effectively discourage the nuisance nighttime activities at the parking area that have become a problem.

Several members of the community spoke about the planned demolition of the Historic Masonic Home (aka Landmark on the Sound). Speakers mentioned the predicted landslide issues that would come with heavy rains, if the demolition occurs as planned. They asked for an independent geological survey of the impact of the demolition. City Manager Tim George reminded the public that in order for comments to be considered by those who will be in a position of power regarding the project, comments must be submitted here. One speaker questioned who would be making the final decision about this building, which could impact so many homes in the community should a landslide occur. Public comments will be accepted until Mar. 8, 2024.

Another speaker said that the recent Marina Steps Project information meeting was exactly the kind of thing the city has been needing for years, as far as communication with the public. Another person said that the city’s planned communication overhaul is taking far too long.

Backpack Brigade Presentation

The Human Services Fund contributes money each year to local nonprofits that do important work in the community. The Backpack Brigade is one such organization, which City Manager Tim George said is receiving $35,000 over two years from the Human Resources budget. 

This organization puts together bagged meals for students from 96 schools in King County, three of them in Des Moines. These meals are distributed to kids in need on Fridays, so they have food to get them through the weekend. Many kids are left home alone for long periods, often with nothing to eat. This organization was created to solve weekend hunger for these kids, so they can thrive through the weekends. 

Nichelle Hilton, Backpack Brigade’s founder, said they currently feed 4500 kids each week with the help of volunteers who craft several different meal offerings for children with different diets and preferences. She said they have seen a 30% increase in participation since school started in September.

Hearts & Minds Funds Final Distribution

Council recently voted to discontinue the Hearts & Minds Fund, since they could not reach agreement on the rules for its use. City council members have been voluntarily paying into this fund each month for several decades. They then use the money to support causes that present themselves during council meetings, or to send flowers in times of condolence or support. Excess money in the account regularly went into the Steven J. Underwood Scholarship Fund

During a discussion at a previous meeting, meant to formalize the use of the fund, council could not reach an agreement and abruptly voted to discontinue the fund altogether. At this meeting, Council discussed how to distribute the remaining funds in the account, $4,411. In the end, they voted 5–1 to put $2000 into the scholarship fund, and give the remaining balance to the Human Resources Advisory Committee to allot to local charities as they see fit. 

Councilmember Matt Mahoney said he would vote no on any decision, since he was opposed to discontinuing the fund at all, and Councilmember Jeremy Nutting was not present. Councilmember Yoshiko Grace Matsui expressed disappointment that the council could not reach a compromise at the previous meeting in order to retain the Hearts & Minds Fund.


Watch full video of the council meeting below:

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 10 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.

One reply on “Des Moines City Council hears concerns over Masonic Home demolition, Backpack Brigade & final Hearts & Minds fund distribution”

  1. How can I contribute privately to the Hearts and Minds project and that the remaining funds went to a scholarship fund. I’m appalled that no agreement could be reached for such a crucial need. Imagine children home alone with no food! Absolutely unacceptable.

Comments are closed.