Sunday, August 31, 2008
I've noted a few more new things on the Point Ruston site too. The fence has been removed around the new homes that are under construction on Stack Hill. This is the first time in my 20+ years here that I've seen that area without a fence. It feels like the neighborhood is finally getting extended onto that formerly barren hillside.
And the new Copperline building is well under way. This 8-story building will have condo's, retail and some nice public art. You can check out more here. Times really are changing.... ~ Karen
Stack Hill without a fence...
Copperline Condos under construction...
Saturday, August 30, 2008
As our interaction has grown, I have struggled to find a balance between open expression and civility. Until now, I have tipped the scales towards open comments rather than use my own definition of “civil discourse”.
But I have become increasingly concerned that we are using this venue to continue to tear each other apart – except now we can do it anonymously. I recognize that most of you refuse to take the comments seriously when the author doesn’t have the courage to stand behind their words. And I recognize this level of discord has been a part of our community for several years now. There is some benefit to having it out in the open now.
Yet I had hoped this effort would help bring us together ~ that we could find a way to disagree without name calling, that we could express different opinions without getting raked over the coals, that we could work through the differences if we talked openly without fear of attack. I don’t see that happening right now.
I believe I have to address the growing trend of personal attacks and mean-spirited harassment we are experiencing here. So, we are going to try something new. Rather than require all commenters to register, any comment that is out of line will be moved to the Ruston Truth blog. This is a “no-holds barred” site where you can rave to your hearts content. But here on Ruston Home, we will find ways to have civil disagreements ~ and continue to discover just how much we agree on the important things, like how much we love our community!
Thanks for your continued participation and help with this new direction. ~ Karen
UPDATE: 9:53 am: It's clear some people are very concerned about this change. I welcome everyone's input and thank you for participating. I don't pretend to have the balance right. I agree that this is a form of censorship and it does feel a bit like Pleasantville. But I think its a necessary step to allow everyone to participate (not everyone is willing to undergo the recent harassment's).
These negative comments raise some good points. I encourage the authors to drop the threats and personal attacks and make your comment again. In the meantime, the full range of comments is available on Ruston Truth. I'll continue to update things as I have time today. ~ Karen
They will also discuss the mayor's position. The full packet (including the Master Plan and updated staff report) are available on Ruston Reports. Please attend if you can, Tuesday at 7 pm, 5219 N. Shirley, Room 101.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
UPDATE, 4:16 pm: The Business Examiner noted another step in their publication today - that Point Ruston has hired Colliers International to work on the office and retail leasing. With any luck, much that space will be located within Ruston. Read the article here....
Monday, August 25, 2008
After Stebner and Huson both expressed their views a few times, the issue was opened up for public comment. 3 people supported hiring a town administrator, 3 others were undecided but wanted further study to confirm there was enough money to hire someone.
Huson noted that former Mayor Everding left a 2 page list of priorities that would be a good starting point for an administrator. Hunt had left word that she wants to hire someone with experience with grants. Hedrick wants someone with construction and development experience, since Point Ruston is starting soon. The police chief, speaking solely as a member of the town's staff, expressed her hope that someone could be found that could provide positive guidance for the staff.
It was clear that Stebner would not support moving forward on this, so Huson and Hedrick agreed that Huson would write up a job description and get it posted on AWC as soon as possible. Huson noted that along with moving Point Ruston forward, he felt this was the most important issue facing Ruston right now. The meeting ended at about 7:30 pm. (Thank you for taking such good notes, Beth)
Friday, August 22, 2008
Former Mayor Everding had sent a memo to the council a few weeks ago requesting that if the ballot measure failed last Tuesday, the study session on August 25th be devoted to exploring his staff reorganization plan (which included unspecified personnel changes). The ballot measure does indeed seem to be failing (104 to 80 as of 5 pm yesterday), but Mayor Everding quit his post 2 days before the votes were cast. Seems like a discussion on how to fill the mayor's seat would be a good subject for a study session soon.
Carol Gore, who organized this event, has graciously allowed me to scan the memorabilia they gathered. I will be working to upload photos, school programs, PTA books and much more in the coming days to the Ruston Memories blog. Let me know if you want to add your own memories at email@example.com.
As the master of ceremonies for the reunion noted in his remarks, "Ruston schools' doors were closed by the Tacoma School District in 1985. They may have closed the doors to the school but they can never close our hearts and minds to the memories it provided to all of us who ever attended school in Ruston." Enjoy this sampling of Ruston's early days....
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The last post has some great insights into what is important to residents as the council makes their mayoral selection in the coming weeks. Read on and add your thoughts. ~ Karen
The Council appoints the next Mayor? Can they find someone that can get along with the 5 of them. I hope so. Looks like we are stuck with this form of Government. You can always hire somebody to help out on the day to day tasks. Lets heal and move Point Ruston along.
August 20, 2008 9:55 AM
Maybe we should start fresh with a new mayor AND new council members. It is clear that the current council (except for Hedrick) has no idea how to run a town. They have done a lot of things very fast and very badly, with potentially irreversible damage to our awesome town. We need people who have governmental knowledge and an OPEN mind.
August 20, 2008 10:19 AM
It is my hope/prayer that Ruston can move forward in an intelligent, productive manner. This will take cooperation, being considerate of one another, freedom of speech, abiding by the laws of the nation/state and local gov. and absolute caring for and loving Ruston and one another. Bboop
August 20, 2008 10:49 AM
Karen, You ask some great questions on this Blog. The vote count was pathetic - garnering less than 25% of the town residents. It’s the old 80/20 rule – where 20% of the people are making 80% of the noise. I know each side wants to believe that they are the majority but numbers don’t lie – you are both the minority. In the 2005 primary election there were over 340 votes cast – ask yourself what happened to almost 200 voters that failed to show up for this very important election? I know I will have critic's saying this post is from one side or the other but the bottom-line is the majority of Ruston residents don't care. They have either attempted to serve in the past and are now ostracized or just plain fed up with all the in fighting. How many prior council members do you see still actively involved? Where is Bob Pudlo? Mike Wendell? Brett Johnson? Mary Joyce? And the many others that have served before? Why do they not return? Why are they no longer participating? I know that when the council members that are currently serving leave their seats – they will not return. The town will have chewed them up, personally attacked them, and spit them out. The days of the long term council members are over – the active 20% minority – whether its one-side or the other – will make their lives miserable.
In the past couple of years – how much has really gotten done in this town? Many residents have come before council with their issues but really what has been accomplished? There has been so much effort spent on fighting with the Commencement and Cohen that there has been little time spent solving current residents issues. In many countries, neglecting citizens can lead to a revolution. The unfortunate problem is that revolutions typically don’t solve the underlying deep seeded issues the countries are facing. Maybe thats it - Ruston needs a revolution but there is no one that we could elect that the vocal 20% would unanimously support – won’t happen because there lies a genuine hatred for one another.
Ruston is too small to govern itself moving forward. We will quickly be running out of volunteers that want to enter the lions den of politics that Ruston has become. I was shocked when Michael Transue returned as Mayor and I am certain he probably wishes he never did. I was equally as shocked that Bob Everding returned to politics – only to leave the toxic Mayoral position. Who in their right mind is going to want to be Mayor? But conversely, I am glad we won't be having this dysfunctional council trying to manage a town administrator. We would probably have wound up with another lawsuit - stress related.
Ruston is really a microcosm of what is happening in our society – it’s only magnified because we know all the players. For instance, it’s one thing when you are in the supermarket, the gas station, or the airport and people are rude to you. It’s tolerable because you don’t know that person – it’s not personal. When your neighbor claims you’re stupid, Hitler, a dictator, a cabal, etc… it hurts and cuts deep – it’s personal because it’s your neighbor.
Maybe we are just a sign of the times – no more respect for one another, lack of empathy, and the inability to compromise.
Ruston - Good Luck to All - We are going to need it.
August 20, 2008 5:54 PM
Very well done. When we have a small group running the town and not running with the town, then thats where we are. No doubt, it isnt working, because the mayor quite. And hopefully the rest of the pack will step down. We can turn things around when we get the evil spirits out of town. It seems its always the new comers that want to up set everything. We need progress and it is coming with a wonderful landscape with Cohens ideas. I am proud to be in that wonderful landscape.
August 20, 2008 6:43 PM
Nobody wants to sit in the hot seat. The town council has frightened the people of Ruston with harsh words and condescending attitudes. Who would want to get involved in something like that, it would serve the town best if the town council would step down and give the towns people a chance to elect residents that are actually out to help this town and move foward. Residents are afraid to sign a name on any document or blog that associates them with one person or another. Occasionally on this blog I see words used that make me wonder are these adults or children! It is such a beautiful town with great people, I am happy I live here but tired of what these past elections have brought. ):
August 20, 2008 7:20 PM
although the amount of the people who voted were small and there could have been more votes, the numbers spoke for themself. Some did not show to vote for whatever reason, but the ones who showed up to Pt. Defiance Village spoke with their decision to vote. The MAJORITY vote said no to a Council/Manager. So now what does ruston do? the next mayor has to be from the council correct and live in Ruston? If so we are only recycling the political officials of this town. The amount of issues facing ruston gives no part-time, $500.00/month mayor motivation to want the job. There are numerous lawsuits, there are a lot of disgruntle residents, angered past political appointees, the town is going broke from lawsuits, fines, people stealing and while I hope the new businesses bring LOTS of revenue, the truth is it may only keep the town afloat. People who are trying to bring some major money to the town are being abused. The residents are being politically abused, the staff is being abused from what I read from previous posts and you want a $500/month part-time mayor to deal with all of this.
First sit down and figure out what the criteria is for someone to qualify for a Mayor position. Once you do, figure out who lives in Ruston that qualifies, wants the job at only $500/monthly along with allllllll the responsibility, but before you accept anyone who qualifies, the town needs to know they can handle going into battle and coming out prepared to win the war with running, dodging and hiding.
August 20, 2008 8:28 PM
Either this was not a big issue for local voters or there are still lots of absentee ballots in the mail. It may be several days (or weeks) before we can be sure the council's proposal had been defeated.
In the meantime, the council will need to appoint a mayor who is willing to serve under the current structure through the end of 2009. Given the comment by Council Member Hunt at Monday's meeting (that Everding resigned a week early), the task may be unexpected.
What are your thoughts on the election? On the mayoral appointment? On life in Ruston? Are things getting better or worse? What do you expect over the next year until Ruston elects its new leaders in 2009 (3 of 5 council members and a mayor).
UPDATE: 7:22 pm Today's numbers added to the lead of the "don't change" vote. The count is now 66 in favor (42%) and 91 opposed (58%). Scott Fontaine of the News Tribune is working on a story, too. An early version is on their political blog here...
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
UPDATE: Election results are available on Pierce County auditor's web page (click here). As of 8:30 pm, absentee ballots through today show 50 Ruston voters want to change to a council/manager form of government and 48 want to keep an elected mayor. Ballots that were cast in person at the precinct polling place are due to be counted and added in by 10:30 pm tonight.
UPDATE, 10:45 pm: It's another Ruston nail biter. The count is now 55 in favor of changing, 60 against. There is another update scheduled for midnight, but I'm not planning on staying up. The final update hits at 3 am. In the last election in Ruston, we had one council member elected by 8 votes, with the late absentee ballots playing a big role in his victory. Every vote counts around here!
Monday, August 18, 2008
The News Tribune has a short story on their political blog about Everding's resignation.
Here is what I observed during the rest of the council meeting tonight. ~ Karen
Stebener called the meeting to order at 7 pm. Police Chief Reese called roll (all council members present, mayor absent). Council Member Hedrick was appointed mayor pro-tem. Since the agenda did not have any business items, Council Member Huson moved to add a first reading for the ordinance that would endorse the planning commission and staff's findings and recommendation to approve the Point Ruston Master Plan. The addition of this item to the agenda passed 3-2, with Albertson and Stebner voting no.
The agenda was changed again to add discussion about the mayor and allow for a half hour executive session for the police chief to discuss a personnel issue and an on-going investigation and for potential litigation. These changes were approved 4-1 with Albertson voting no.
Fire Department: Chief Torbet noted 9 calls in July (only one fire work complaint call, no injuries or fires on July 4th), the new engine is in service and upgrades are in process for the radio system.
Police Department: Among other things, LESA's annual report was provided to the council along with Ruston's call statistics, the department got a grant for a shield to use during forced entries, BNSF Railroad has provided a letter allowing Ruston police to investigate some crimes on their property and the chief provided a suggested pay scale to bring the department's salaries up to comparable levels for this area (all full time Ruston officers have applications out with other agencies).
Point Ruston Master Plan: The town planner explained the process he and the planning commission had gone through to arrive at their findings. Hunt wanted clarification on the language the planning commission had added that no building would be allowed over 90 feet above sea level. The planner explained this was just another way of stating what was already outlined in the FEIS. Hunt also asked why Point Ruston was given 3 years to get their first building permit (see the commission's deliberations for the reasons) and wanted the sections where "additional language" would be laid out to be provided before they vote.
The town attorney said council members were free to talk to anyone they wanted about this issue before they vote. Hunt made a motion that this would be the first reading of this ordinance and the second reading would be held at the next regular meeting on September 2nd. Albertson felt the issue was being rushed and the council should have all their questions answered before they had their first reading. He noted that the council members who had the most experience with the issue still had questions tonight. Hunt attempted to find a time Albertson could attend a study session so all questions could be asked, but he was unavailable (vacation, etc). The planner noted he had additional language for the council tonight and could answer any questions before the next meeting. The motion to accept tonight's discussion as a first reading passed 3-2.
Mayor Issue: The email from Mayor Everding was read. The town attorney noted that someone could be appointed mayor pro-tem (and retain their council vote) while serving temporally as mayor. Hunt thought since we could be changing the form of government in tomorrow's vote, the town could hire a manager very quickly. After some discussion, Huson was appointed mayor pro-tem until September 5th by a 4-1 vote (Albertson voting no).
Claims and Payroll: Will be addressed at Sept. 2nd meeting
General Public Comment:
- Bev Wombacher praised the planning commission's thorough deliberations.
- I asked why Everding had resigned (Albertson said he was not happy with 3 council members who had chosen to ignore the town attorney's advice).
- Jim Wingard also applauded the planning commission.
- Mike Cohen used his 2 minutes to explain the heights on the Point Ruston development.
- John Shroder complained that the Point Ruston buildings would be too tall.
- Bill Walker said the information on Point Ruston was not understandable.
- Connie Maglione wanted to thank the fire department for quick and professional help to her neighbor, wanted to support Point Ruston and as chair of the civil service commission ask to be allowed to hold a special meeting (that she felt had been blocked by Mayor Everding).
- Edie Tallman felt it was past time to approve the Point Ruston plan and wanted the noise at the Unicorn Tavern addressed.
Mayor's Time: None
- Stebner: None
- Huson: None
- Albertson: He still felt the Point Ruston plan was being rushed, and lamented loosing Mayor Everding.
- Hunt: She also was sorry to see Everding had "resigned a week early". She noted that she knows the planning for Point Ruston better than most, but that she often asks questions even if she knows the answers as a way to get information on the record.
The meeting moved into executive session. After about 35 minutes, the meeting was reconvened and adorned at about 8:45 pm.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Based on the information packet, it appears there is something related to hiring a town engineer and most importantly a proposed ordinance adopting the planning commission's recommendation to approve the Point Ruston Master Development Plan (with some conditions). This may be the final showdown on Monday night. It should be interesting, please attend if you can.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Maglione has been trying to get by-laws adopted for well over a month now. She is concerned that the commission needs to get organized and start its work immediately, considering the many important issues they have pending. No action was taken tonight even though there was a quorum present. The commission meets again in a month (September 11th) - on the second Thursday of every month, unless a special meeting is called earlier so the commission can adopt by-laws.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
A lawsuit implies damages. This legal action by Point Ruston was a land use action that is set up under state law to correct decisions that Point Ruston feels were unfair and unreasonable. These types of actions have to be filed within 21 days of the land use decision. That deadline was yesterday (August 12th).
I think that was the jist of it. We'll watch how this one plays out and get a good legal lesson in the process. ~ Karen
The meeting tonight started on time with commissioners Dick Peterson still on vacation and Bryan Ficiala expected at any time. Commission members had reviewed the public comment letters and Ms. Judd had 6 items she wanted added as conditions to the plan:
- 1) Require that the promenade be fully constructed in 3 years. It was pointed out that it will be constructed from the Tacoma end to the proposed hotel. Tying the requirement to occupancy of the hotel would be better than a specific time. The planner suggested wording along this line that was approved.
- 2) Public parking spaces be required for future users of the promenade. There was discussion about the public parking that is already required along Ruston Way and in the parking garage on Yacht Club road that is intended for this use (all requirements in the FEIS already). It was agreed that signage be required that clarified the public parking.
- 3) Ensure that public streets be consistent with the FEIS which exceed typical City of Tacoma standards. Since everything in the FEIS is required already, this language was viewed as redundant.
- 4) Judd wanted the language from Metro Parks comment letter included as a condition of the Master Plan that "recognizes the important function that Yacht Club road makes to public access..." There was discussion about how relevant this was, but it was agreed to add that full sentence from Parks letter.
- 5) and 6) both required that Point Ruston provide Ruston's mayor with all EPA reports and air/soil monitoring data. It was agreed this information was not appropriate for a development plan, but that the town clerk would notify the public about EPA's web site that should have all this information updated in the next few weeks.
Commissioner Anderson noted that different documents list different numbers for the grade increase (2% to 2.75%). A 2% increase is the minimum needed for proper drainage. Older plans listed a range, but now that things are more defined, 2.75% is the final grade increase from the shoreline to the hillside. The old Gallagher Way concrete pavement at the entrance to the tunnel (on the Ruston side) is about where that final grade will be, with a 2.75 slope gradually out to the water from there.
Moser wanted to confirm that all buildings on the Ruston side would be lower than the lowest part of the top of the OCF (a 90 foot elevation from sea level). That requirement is already in the plan, but it was decided to add specific wording. Moser also wanted to confirm that irrigation would be provided for new trees and landscaping. The planner proposed language that was approved.
Moser then moved for adoption of the findings and conditions of the staff report and approval of the Point Ruston Master Plan subject to the conditions discussed in the planning commission deliberations (or something like that). Mr. Ranes seconded it. There was no discussion on the motion, which passed 4-0. The planner will put together a final report that will be reviewed Chairman Moser, signed and forwarded to the council.
There will be a live raku pottery firing demonstration, a kid's zone and much more. There is still room for vendors (especially artists) ~ so spread the word! Sign up for booth space here... And plan on spending Saturday, September 6th at home in Ruston.
Former Mayor Transue has weighed in on the issue as well. Scott Fontaine of the News Tribune has more posted on his Word on the Street blog. Click here to read it...
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
With that background, the meeting tonight began at 7 pm. The mayor was absent and the town clerk is on vacation. Council Member Hedrick was appointed mayor pro-tem. Hedrick outlined the meeting agenda 1) Resolution 430: the inter-local agreement with Tacoma on an LID for infrastructure improvements for Point Ruston (there was some discussion on the LID at the planning commission meeting last week, read more here) and 2) a member of the prevailing side on the Stack Hill vote could move for reconsideration of the Stack Hill vote and open that issue up for a vote again.
Huson then moved for adoption of Resolution 430 (approving the LID), which was seconded by Hunt. There was no discussion. Stebner and Albertson voted against, Hunt and Huson voted in favor. Mayor pro-tem Hendrick voted in favor and the resolution passed 3-2.
The town attorney then noted his opinion of the council's action on August 4th (but he did not outline what that opinion was). Stebner wanted to go into executive session to discuss the new lawsuit filed by Point Ruston, but was told it would not effect this vote. Alberston stated that the town attorney had pointed out some procedural deficiencies in how the council acted on August 4th. Huson wanted the town attorney (emphasis on the "town" attorney, not other attorney's present) to explain why the council's action were not procedurally correct this time when they took the same type of vote earlier in the year on another minor issue (street lighting) for Stack Hill. The attorney said he was not around at the time and could not address it.
The council then recessed into executive session for 15 minutes to discuss litigation. They reconvened at 7:31 pm. Albertson again stated that he wanted a member of the prevailing side on the Stack Hill vote to reconsider so the procedural problems could be addressed. There was no reconsideration made. Hedrick noted that the Stack Hill resolution would be effective 10 days after its passage even if the mayor refused to sign it. Today was the 8th day, so it is effective on Thursday, August 14th. The meeting adorned about 7:40 pm.
The council is in executive session right now to discuss the lawsuit that was filed by Point Ruston against the town today. There are no more details available right now, other than it is related to the Stack Hill development. I'll post any additional information that might be discussed later in the meeting. ~ Karen
UPDATE: 8:05 pm
The council meeting has adjourned with no further action (full report coming up). Mr. Cohen, principal with Point Ruston spoke about the lawsuit after the meeting. He confirmed that they have sued Ruston over the taking of Lot 12 as a view corridor. They don't feel there is enough public benefit to warrant taking that building lot. Mr. Cohen noted that just because something is in an ordinance does not make it fair or reasonable. Read more of this discussion from the public hearing on the issue on June 25, 2008.
According to Mr. Cohen, the lawsuit addresses two issues. 1) That is unfair to take this property. 2) That the pressure put on Council Member Hunt after she indicated she might change her vote on the issue at the next meeting was unfair. In particular, Mr. Cohen mentioned the contrary advice given by the town attorney from one meeting to the next and the multiple calls she received from the mayor, fellow council members and residents telling her she could/should not change her vote. Read more about this July 21, 2008 meeting here...
Timing played a critical role in the filing of this lawsuit today. On land use issues, there is a 21-day window to disagree (this may be an appeal - I'll post more information as I gather it). That deadline was today. Mr. Cohen said they immediately followed up with a settlement offer. He said they don't want to have to hash this out in court, but feel they don't have any other options at this point.
And the News Tribune allowed a counter opinion to their Friday editorial on Ruston's proposal to change the form of government. You can read it by clicking here...
Building heights are measured from the final grade after the environmental work is done. The grading map here is pretty small, but a larger version is available at the Point Ruston offices. JJ McCament from Point Ruston will arrange for anyone to look it over and ask questions. Please call her at (253) 219-7962. A scaled model of the development (showing heights) is available at the sales center (floating ferry boat) on Thea Foss waterway as well.
The last 3 slides here show the detail of what the views will be from most of our homes in "Upper Ruston" once Point Ruston has been built out. Please check in with JJ and the team at Point Ruston if you have any questions. Remember that planning commission members are currently deliberating this issue and cannot talk to anyone about any aspect this project. ~ Karen
This is a regular council meeting tonight, where the council can take any action they choose. Here is the information provided for the meeting. Please attend at 7 pm.
Monday, August 11, 2008
The meeting began with Chairperson Kevin Moser reading a statement. Bryan Ficiala asked the first question, wanting to know why the town planner had recommended a 10 year window as the requirement of a building permit application. He wanted an 18 month requirement (as suggested by Jobs For Justice at the hearing). The planner noted there are many unknowns on this project and 18 months was not realistic, especially since a Shoreline Permit is needed before a permit can be submitted to Ruston. After some discussion, it was agreed that a 3 year limit for the first building permit would be required.
Cherrie Anderson wanted to know that the environmental remediation would be phased in ways that would be protective. She was assured that EPA and other agencies were watching the work closely (with people on site regularly) and that EPA had very strict rules about when and how they would allow development.
The commission then decided to use the staff recommendations as a framework for their comments and questions. Click here to get a copy.
- Recommendation A) Agreed
- Recommendation B) Agreed
- Recommendation C) There was some discussion on the size of parking stalls. Colett Judd had measured parking slots at several local lots and was concerned the regulations in the master plan were smaller. The town planner noted that smaller stalls meant less asphalt and that the sizes in the plan were normal for this area. The commission could require a mix of sizes. The plan calls for 3370 off-street stalls with more on-street parking. In the end the sizes in the plan were agreed to.
- Recommendation D) Agreed
- Recommendation E) Agreed
- Recommendation F) Agreed
- Recommendation G) Agreed. Point Ruston has already planned on this concept of using different types of material for sidewalks. They are also planning on raising the sidewalks slightly.
- Recommendation H) Agreed after a notation this requirement is referring to lineal feet.
- Recommendation I) Agreed
- Recommendation J) Agreed
- Recommendation K) Agreed with the change to 3 years rather than 10 (as previously discussed).
After all the recommendations had been approved, Mr. Ficila wanted to know when the Baltimore Street connection would be complete if the LID was not approved. An LID is a Local Improvement District, in simplistic terms, Ruston would sell bonds to finance public improvements and the project/developer is obligated to repay the costs. It was noted the LID is a financing mechanism only and does not change the traffic requirements. The LID would mean the infrastructure would be build all at once towards the beginning of the project. If it is not approved, the road improvements would be done in pieces as the development is built out and brings more traffic to the roads. It was pointed out that the public improvements are a $16 million cost with no return on those dollars. Without the LID, those improvements would be made as the development progressed and allowed income to cover the costs. It was estimated without the LID, the Baltimore Street connection would not be done for about 3 or 4 years.
There was some discussion on the round-a-bouts in the development. They are designed like the ones in Lacey and include a slip lane for traffic to move into the circle easier.
Kevin Moser asked if Ruston would be required to build a pump station for sanitary sewer. It was explained that sewer would continue to flow to the Tacoma station as it does now, but the physical system would be Ruston’s and billed by the town. The same is true of the electrical system. Water would provided by Tacoma as it is now. Storm water on the interior roads (which are private) would have their own system.
Charles Ranes asked for more details on the storm water. Tacoma will have experimental swales along Ruston Way to retain and filter water before it enters the bay. A similar system could be applied to Ruston. The roads on the former smelter site will require filters as part of the remediation. The maintenance on all these systems will belong to Ruston. There is generally about a 5 year bond required as a warrantee.
Mr. Moser wanted to know what art work would be on the Ruston side. There is generally one art piece planned for inside each large residential building and one outside. A large fountain with art is planned for the grand plaza (half of which is in Ruston).
Mr. Ficila asked about the roofline elevations of the hotel. He wanted a guarantee that the seawall would not be raised as that might allow the hotel to be build higher. It was explained the seawall elevation is determined the environmental work, but it would not be significantly higher than it is now. Mr. Ficila also asked if the buildings were LEED, would that give some energy credits to Ruston.
Mr. Moser wanted to review the comment letters before asking the rest of his questions. The meeting ended about 9 pm, with a continuance until 7 pm on Wednesday, August 13th.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
(Name, address)… I’ve a resident of Tacoma since 1979. I’ve been a former business owner in the Town of Ruston and still own commercial property here. I’ve followed this since I moved here. I’m a commercial real estate appraiser by nature. I’ve been an appraiser since 1972. I’ve been involved in the Old Town Business and Professional Association, another business district. I’m currently a member of the Ruston-Point Defiance Business District also and I’m on the state committee for Main Street. I believe in redevelopment and this is a wonderful opportunity. I think Mr. Cohen has assembled a really good staff. I’ve know JJ for many years. She’s a good quality person. I listened to David Allen last fall among these meetings. These are really good people and they’ve really done a very good job. Unfortunately I think Mr. Cohen is probably going to loose the rest of his hair before this is over. But I think he’s really taken on a challenge and I think he’s come up with a wonderful plan.
One of the highlights I thought tonight was the pedestrian friendly. If you follow the City of Tacoma lately they’ve been getting beat up regularly for lack of pedestrian friendly. The poster child for that is Tollefeson Plaza. These people have come in (pointing to Cohen’s team) and took a site that I think will accommodate that very well and have done a really, really good job. I think that’s important in our future as we’ve had gas go up, people are driving less, they’re bicycling more, they’re more walking more and this is just a wonderful plan to bring that in.
It’s a very expensive site to develop. I think they’ve done a good job to ensure that it will be developed successfully. I came into Old Town when the Silver Cloud came in. I’ve watched them for up to 8 years. People came out of the woodwork to oppose that because of the view impairment, they were worried if they didn’t make it they’d have an empty building on the water. The Silver Cloud has been very successful. They’re a wonderful neighbor, they are very generous. They’ve really been a big benefit to Old Town. I don’t think you could get a better hotel partner on a project like this.
So again, I really, really think this is a quality – a very well designed mix use development. I think the way its set up its going to be successful. We’re in challenging times today now though. While speed might not be on the essence, it’s important that you get this approved and move on. This has been a very huge problem site for many years and a large number of people I’m sure have looked at it. I think you’ve got a quality developer here that’s really done a good job. I really think it’s important that you work with him to get him off the ground and going. It will be huge for Ruston and also for Tacoma. Thank you.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
- Meeting material for last Monday's council meeting
- Stack Hill Plat Resolution and Ordinance
- Agenda and Staff Recommendations for Point Ruston Master Plan
The Stack Hill decisions were approved by a 3-2 vote on Monday, but the mayor refused to sign them until the town attorney had reviewed them early next week. These actions grant a 7.5 foot side yard set back for the homes on Stack Hill (equal to the rest of town) and allow the plat to be finalized so that lots can be sold and put on the tax rolls. These items may come up for further discussion at the continued meeting next Tuesday, August 12th at 7 pm.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Point Ruston then presented the details of their development plan for the lower site (not Stack Hill). I won’t go into the details here, but they were very through. The owner of the Silver Cloud Hotels was even on hand to express his excitement at a very well-thought out plan. At about 8:45 pm the new town planner went through his recommendations. I’ll scan them in tomorrow, but he felt the application was adequate and recommended that more language be included in the actual plan (that will become the zoning code for this site) to reflect more of what was presented in the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and other documents.
At about 9:05, the public was allowed to comment. Here’s a brief summary:
- Jim Wingard supported the plan and encouraged quick action after so many years of struggle.
- Sherri Forch also supported the plan. She liked the Baltimore Street connection, the promenade connection that linked to Ruston Way, wanted the hotel and liked the open space. She ended with: “Thank you Mike Cohen for what you’ve done.”
- Bill Walker presented some material he said was from the Consent Decree between Asarco and the EPA. He wanted clarification about what the final elevations will be at the end of the remediation.
- Connie Maglione supported the plan. She had observed a real give and take between the developer and the town, like the Baltimore Street connection and more views corridors than proposed under the old plan. She felt it was time to move forward.
- Beth Torbet supported the plan wholeheartedly. She’s been a resident for 25 years, this development has been a long time coming and asked the commission to move forward as fast as they can.
- I spoke in favor of the plan, especially having the retail core in Ruston. I compared this plan to the 1997 plan and felt the new plan far exceeded anything we could have dreamed of back then.
- Jon Anderson encouraged the commission to take their time and not be rushed.
- John Trueman supported the plan. He is a former business owner in Ruston, still owns commercial property in Ruston and is a commercial real estate appraiser. His comments were so well spoken that I'm going to transcribe them for you tomorrow.
- Jobs For Justice had two people speak that objected to the plan because it was not protective enough of health and safety. They want an analysis of the high income people that will be moving in and the low income workers that will be employed there,
Public comment was then closed and the meeting continued until 7 pm tomorrow night when the commission will begin their deliberations. The public can observe but can no longer comment or speak privately to commission members.
Please attend tomorrow if you can. It will be interesting to hear what their concerns are and how they are leaning. The future of this project rests with these 5 people now. ~ Karen
Please attend tonight, give the planning commission your input and voice your opinion loud and clear. If we don't participate, we have no excuses to complain or shed tears later if Ruston withers on the vine.
Just my opinion. Let yours be heard tonight at 7 pm.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
My dad is Rodney J. Larson and was the Principal at Ruston School for nearly 30 years. He's now 93 years young and blind - but the stories he loves to tell the most are about all "HIS" students at Ruston School. Believe you me he remembers all of you dearly. We'll be there this Saturday, he's so excited to "see" and talk with all that show up, and those that can't - he'd still love to hear from you. Judy Larson
Then the planning commission will hold its public hearing at 7 pm. This is your chance to voice any concerns, and to give your opinion on the new plan. You can review the full plan by clicking here.
REMEMBER THIS WILL BE YOUR LAST, FINAL AND ONLY CHANCE TO COMMENT ON THIS PLAN!!! Once the hearing is closed, the planning commission will deliberate and make their recommendation to the council in a closed session. The council cannot accept any more input, either in public or private. You can submit written comments to Town Hall (5117 N. Winnifred) by close of business on Wednesday, August 6th.
Mike Cohen says there will be free hot dogs for everyone during that free hour from 6 to 7 pm on Thursday. Please, please, please attend and let your voice be heard on what many consider to be the most important issue facing Ruston right now.
Monday, August 4, 2008
- There appears to have been some action on the Stack Hill amendment request and final plat approval. I'll get more details out once I confirm exactly what happened.
- The meeting tonight was continued until next Tuesday, August 12th. At that time the interlocal agreement with Tacoma for the LID and the flood insurance will be decided.
- Council Member Hedrick has researched the engineering bids and recommended Morsett & Associates. The council will now confirm the contract rate before making a final decision.
- The vendors at the annual music fest this year will have to pay a $15 fee, along with any sales tax due from the event. Formal action will be taken at the next council meeting.
UPDATE, 8:55 pm: I just spoke to Steve Farbe, owner of Point Defiance Cafe and Casino. He confirmed that the hearing on Friday (asking for an injunction to temporaly halt the tax increase until it could be heard in court) was postponed until October. One of the casino's arguments was that the council did not follow their own rules when they waived the second reading. Their rules require that a second reading can only be overturned with agreement from 4 of the 5 council members. Council Member Stebner was absent, so the vote to skip the second reading was 3 to 1.
Ruston would not stipulate to this 3 to 1 vote at the hearing (I think that means they would not agree that it was accurate). The judge wants a transcript of the meeting rather than the audio recording that was offered.
Mr. Farbe was not sure how many employees were laid off when he closed the casino operations. Because of the uncertianty of continued operatons, several people have moved on to new jobs in the last couple of weeks. He was sure it was "at least dozens" that were laid off this weekend.
Call to Order
Minutes of Previous Meeting (to be presented later)
1. Interlocal Agreement between the Town of Ruston and the City of Tacoma on LID
2. Ordinance 1263 - Amend Ordinance 1241 (National Flood Insurance Program) First Reading
3. Engineer Selection
4. Discussion: Music Festival Permits
5. Resolution No. 429: Stack Hill Final Plat
Claims and Payroll
General Public Comment
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Jim Wingard has a first hand account of what happened at the hearing on Friday morning on this issue. Read more here...
I am waiting for more details from the casino owner... ~ Karen