By Sarah Brusig
The Kent City Council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022 was called to order at approximately 7:06 p.m. In attendance were Kent Mayor Dana Ralph, Kent City Council President Bill Boyce and Councilmembers Brenda Fincher, Satwinder Kaur, Marli Larimer, Zandria Michaud, Les Thomas, and Toni Troutner.
Without changes, Council voted 7-0 to approve the agenda unanimously.
Councilmember Troutner issued public recognition to the Bonney Lake/Sumner 12-U Little League All-Stars for playing the Little League World Series. On a personal note, Troutner shared that her cousin’s son is playing on the team and “his name is Liam; he’s number 19.” The team won the Northwest Region Championship when Liam tied the game in the sixth inning – giving the team a shot at victory. “Go team!” Troutner added.
Upcoming and ongoing community events in Kent include the last of the citywide summer concert series on Aug. 17; Cajun Fest on Saturday, Aug. 20 where partygoers can enjoy zydeco music and more; the Senior Center Annual Food Truck event on Sept. 8; a Christmas showcase on Sept. 29; a mustang roundup; an X-League double-header play-off; and the Seattle Thunderbirds in their home opener on Oct. 1.
Public Safety Report
Ralph presided over the swearing-in of four new officers. Chief Rafael Padilla called the uptick in officer interest “good news” for residents of Kent.
Mayor Ralph’s Report
King County Flight Control Advisory Committee met for the final time on Aug. 16. “They are the ones who direct the usage of those flight control dollars,” Ralph said, adding that the approved budget included funding the the Green River area.
Ralph also reported on the one-year anniversary of Miss Boba. “I don’t know – I think I am way far behind… I did not realize how delicious boba tea was, but I had a brown sugar boba, that’s their specialty there.” She thanked the family running the establishment and congratulated them on making it one year in business.
Chief Administrative Officer’s Report
Chief Administrative Officer Pat Fitzpatrick provided an update on the next biannual budget and referenced the agenda for additional talking points.
Boyce shared updates on Operations and Public Safety budget allocations, flex funds and grants. On the subject of drinking water, Boyce said, “The water we’re drinking in Kent is the best water you can drink… Kudos to the public safety team for making sure we’re drinking safe water, which is important.”
Michaud serves on the Regional Laws Safety and Justice Committee and they discussed the regional approach to the mental health crisis.
Kaur worked within her committees on team-building, performance standards, compliance standards, and funding for building capacity on local government level climate work.
Larimer, Troutner and Thomas did not have committee updates at the time of the meeting.
Fincher discussed the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency committee. “One thing that was a standout was that in looking at how we do things, we changed one of the [mini grant] programs.” Fincher said the committee extended the deadline for programming and expanded the amount of funding per grant.
Fincher added that Tacoma artist Chris Jordan is working with the Kent Arts Commission to create a vibrant and diverse offering for the public. “It’s going to be vibrant and show movement,” including “ethnicity” and “race,” according to Fincher.
Fincher also mentioned new crosswalk beacons to shield pedestrians from oncoming traffic in select locations.
The first public hearing on Aug. 16 was the “Ordinance for Alleyway Vacation in Bridges Ave./Railroad Ave. Neighborhood.” On June 21, 2022, Council vacated an alleyway in the Railroad Avenue Neighborhood as a creative tool to help neighbors combat crime in their neighborhood. A second alleyway in that same community is similarly proposed for vacation. The City is proposing to vacate the right-of-way consisting of an alleyway situated between properties located between Bridges Avenue South to the west and Central Avenue South to the east, and East Willis Street to the north and East Russell Street to the south (“Vacation Area”). Vacation of this portion of right-of- way will allow the abutting property owners to close off the alleyway to the public as a security measure. City staff recommends that this portion of right-of-way be vacated through the street vacation process as set forth in Chapter 6.09 of the Kent City Code. On July 19, 2022, City Council started the street vacation process by adopting Resolution No. 2048, setting August 16, 2022, as the date for a public hearing for the proposed street vacation.
Dan Hearst asked Council to stop funding the Seattle Thunderbirds because they don’t reference Kent in their branding. “They need to understand that they owe the citizens of Kent,” he said.
Elijah Wiggins asked Council to consider installing a stoplight for pedestrians on the cross street of 266th and Central as it is “absolutely nerve-racking” currently. “…it’s really just not safe,” he said.
The Consent Calendar was approved unanimously by Council.
Seeing no other business and without bids or an executive session, Council was adjourned just short of 8pm.
Sarah Brusig has been in media and publishing for over 15 years and previously served as the president of the Society of Professional Journalists – Western Washington chapter. Sarah is the recipient of the McCormick Foundation New Media Women grant and was presented with the Community Builder Award by Rep. Pramila Jayapal. She resides in South King County where she regularly advocates for human rights, animal rights and education. Keep up with Sarah on Twitter and Facebook or to reach out with story ideas/suggestions.