By Mellow DeTray

Here’s our recap of the Des Moines City Council meeting held on Thursday, April 13, 2023:

Praisealujah Receives Hearts & Minds Support

The meeting began with a presentation from Praisealujah, a faith-based addiction treatment center. In their program, addicts live for no cost in one of several men’s houses, two women’s houses, a house for married couples, or even a location that allows children to live with their parents. They spend their days working for the organization, and at the end of 90 days they must pay back the program fee of $500, which goes to funding future participants.

Pastor Kelly grew up in Des Moines, and the organization runs food banks in many surrounding cities. They distribute 4.9 million pounds of food per month. The organization also operates the Nu 2 U thrift store on Marine View Drive. Council voted 6-1 to give them $500 from the Hearts & Minds Fund.

Public Comments

According to one speaker, Cecil Powell Park had its playground removed in 2012, and has been waiting for over a decade for the promised replacement. She pleaded with council to hasten the progress on this. Mayor Matt Mahoney assured her that it’s happening this year.

Others spoke of the importance of the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) which was recently reinstated. One asked the council to wait to make any decision on marina redevelopment until the CAC has had a chance to discuss it. Council later said these plans have been in the works for years, and they have had a ton of feedback from the community along the way.

Police Chief on Downtown Vandalism

Chief Ken Thomas updated council on the extensive damage that had been caused by an unstable individual the night before. Fifteen or sixteen businesses and homes were affected, he said, by seemingly random acts of vandalism. At around 4 a.m., calls started coming in regarding the sound of breaking glass. It is estimated that the cost of the broken windows will come to $40–$50,000.

The security video footage of this individual led him to be quickly recognized as a man who had been living out of his car in town for some time, and he was located about 10 minutes after being identified. He is in custody now.

Fireworks Replacement Drones

Councilmember JC Harris was skeptical about the city’s decision to hold a fireworks display using drone technology, but the rest of the council was convinced it was worth a try. Redmond was the first local city to use this technology, and their community had overwhelmingly positive feedback about it. Many other cities are following suit.

The innovative show will reduce the environmental impact of traditional fireworks, keeping the air and water free of the chemicals normally released every 4th of July. Additionally, drone replacements are much quieter so it won’t negatively impact pets and sensitive populations. There will be music to go with the show, accessible by smartphone.

Development Moratorium Extended

The moratorium on development of the 73-acre business park south of 216th Street will continue until October, 2023. This is the maximum time the moratorium can be extended for, and it gives the city more time to look into the best uses of this area. The business park is surrounded by residential neighborhoods, and the community had been affected by the types of businesses going in, which involved lots of truck traffic in pedestrian areas. The moratorium temporarily prohibits submission or acceptance of applications for new development in the area.

Marina Steps Project: Design & Permitting Approved

The Marina Steps project will proceed, passing with a 5-2 vote. Councilmember Gene Achziger stated his concern that the stairs will cost the city a lot of money, but will not directly generate any revenue. Deputy Mayor Traci Buxton said that we have been talking about this for many years and she is ready to move forward. City Manager Michael Matthias said that the waterfront hotel development, now off the table, would have paid for much of the stairs project. The cost is estimated at $6 million for construction alone, but capped at $9 million total for design and implementation.

There is concern that the stairs and path down to the marina will not be in compliance with ADA requirements, but the city’s public works director is also the ADA compliance officer, and it will be accessible to all. Additionally, public input will be needed for design stages along the way, utilizing the new Citizens Advisory Board.

The members of the CAB were voted in by council in a 6-1 vote. The Board will be expected to meet four times this year, with one meeting in July to discuss neighborhood and city concerns, and another later meeting dedicated to the budget. The meetings will be recorded, but it is not known yet whether the recordings will be accessible to the public.

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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.