By Mellow DeTray
Here’s our recap of the regular Des Moines City Council meeting held on Thursday night, Dec. 14, 2023:
Councilmember Yoshiko Grace Matsui Sworn In
The meeting began with the swearing in of a new councilmember. Yoshiko Grace Matsui, who ran unopposed in the recent election, will fill the seat of recently retired Councilmember Vic Pennington.
Nearly every speaker during the public comments period included a plea for council to support the preservation of the Masonic Home as a historic landmark. One person said that council hasn’t really ever weighed in on the concerns of the community about losing the building, which it was said, elevates the unique character of the town.
Another speaker expressed concerns over the expansion plans of the Port of Seattle. They do not want council to allow the construction of new warehouses. They explained that the tree canopy and salmon habitat have already been compromised enough without this kind of development, and that the Port needs to be called to account.
One speaker enumerated a list of priorities that she believes the council should relay to any new city manager. The list included increasing public safety, reinstating a public planning commission, providing incentives for boutique and other small businesses to come to Des Moines, revamping the city website, as well as reinstating the requirement that all new developments include suitable soundproofing.
Another person described how in her 13 years of living near the marina, the most recent year has seen a serious escalation of crime. She hopes that installing gates on the parking lots will solve the issue.
One man implored the council to prioritize the preservation of trees. He explained that they help with noise mitigation, absorbing sound from airplanes rather than bouncing it around like buildings and streets do. In addition, trees filter the air and water, improving the health of the community, as well as improving the quality of the water running into the Sound. This protects sea life and the sea floor.
City Manager Report
Interim City Manager Tim George shared a “save the date” for a Marina Steps Development Forum, which will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. The forum will include a presentation on the project, a timeline, and opportunity for interaction with staff about the project. The location and time are yet to be determined, but it is likely to be held at the marina and in the evening sometime. More information to come.
Events & Facilities Enterprise Fund Repealed
Council chose to reconsider their prior decision to create an enterprise fund in order to make Events & Facilities pay for itself, rather than being supported by the general fund. This evening, they voted unanimously to repeal the project. To support their decision, it was explained that they can make changes to increase Events & Facilities revenue without creating an enterprise fund, and without borrowing thousands of dollars from another fund as had been the plan. Mayor Matt Mahoney said he would support the repeal, but still hopes to see this become an enterprise fund in the future.
Cecil Powell Neighborhood Park Improvements Funded
Council voted unanimously to fund the construction of a new play structure and other improvements at Cecil Powell Park. The park had an aging wooden structure that was removed in 2014. In addition to a new play structure with slides, the improvements include a bike rack and picnic table. The cost will be $163,113, with a $22,000 approved contingency fund to avoid delays. As far as a timeline for completion, Public Works Director Andrew Merges is hopeful it will be done by summer of 2024. However, he explained that this sector is still experiencing material delays, particularly with steel fabrication.