Thursday, February 28, 2013

Corinne Johnson: 1917-2013

Longtime Ruston resident Corinne Johnson has finally relinquished her residency in town after 72 years. She raised her children here, served at the former Ruston Lutheran church, worked as town clerk, was elected to the town council and was an active member of the Ruston School PTA. Corinne was the best among us, the foundation of a community like Ruston. She gave her best to her family and to us. Her son Michael still lives in town and followed her lead, serving on the Ruston council a generation later.

Graveside services with a reception following will be held this Saturday, March 2nd. More details are available on The Tribune's obituary page here...

Soft Rain

The hint of spring in the rain today seems to have drawn even local deer closer. These four let me walk within a few feet today as they carefully cleaned each other. The soft rain held the song of birds this morning, offering a faint hint of spring. Despite the storm that began the week, it feels like we end the week on a hopeful note. Hold on, warmth and sunshine are just around the corner!                    


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ruston Chief Dunks For Special Olympics

Ruston's Police Chief Jeremy Kunkel was one of the many officers who took the Polar Bear Plunge in our back yard this weekend. The event raised funds for Special Olympics, an event near and dear to police agencies across the state. This was the first police/Special Olympics PBP in Tacoma-Pierce County. The goal was to exceed Seattle's first year total of $20,000. Thanks to the effort of many great officers, including our own, the event raised $70,000!

Chief Kunkel thanked the many generous community members who donated to his run into the very cold waters off Owens Beach on Saturday. You can watch the craziness (including some great footage of Kunkel) on this video link here... As always, good work Jeremy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Council Meeting Notes: Feb. 5, 2013

These are notes from the meeting two weeks ago - catching up!

The meeting began at 7pm with Councilmember Kristovich arriving late. The agenda was approved with no changes. There were no staff reports.

Public Comments


1. Ordinance 1382 - Zoning Code Amendment (2nd Reading): The mayor began by asking the council to disclose any appearance of fairness contacts on this ordinance. Councilmembers Hedrick, Hunt and Hardin all mentioned an email they had received from a resident. There was no public challenge. Town planner Rob White outlined the process and mentioned that no one testified for or against this change at the planning commission hearing. Hedrick felt that a holistic approach would be a good idea, to eventually bring the commercial zoning down all of 51st Street to Point Ruston. He suggested that the planning commission look at the issue. He hoped it would bring more traffic to the business district. Mayor Hopkins said the planning commission would begin updating the Comprehensive Plan at their next meeting. An updated plan should help in the search for grants. Hunt also wanted the zoning extended down 51st Street with the height limit granted at the Coles Tavern. Hardin confirmed the new height limit was 45’ and 3 stories tall. He asked if there was any concern about shadows created on the northern lot since that language was not carried forward from the first ordinance to this one. White noted that the northern lot had the same owner, but he recommended adding the shadow language to include N. 51st Street. The ordinance was amended and approved.

2. Ordinance 1392 - Nuisance Vegetation (2nd Reading): Hunt said again she wanted a warning put in the newsletter. Hardin asked why alleys were not included, wondering if they are considered part of streets. Both White and the town engineer were not sure. The issue was deferred until the attorney could comment.

3. Ordinance 1394 – Weight Limits For Streets (2nd Reading): Hardin amended the ordinance to name the two new streets that are being added in to the ‘where-as’ section and to the title. The ordinance was approved 5-0.

4. Resolution 538 - Environmental Consultant Agreement: White described the need for more expertize on Superfund land use applications. Hedrick confirmed that all the cost for this service will be passed to developer. The $100,000 listed in the agreement was a not-to-exceed amount, not expected costs. Hardin wanted to know if this expense did have to be paid by the town which fund would pay. Hopkins confirmed the general fund, which would have significant impacts. White said the consultant said that EPA pays their (the consultant) bills from an escrow account that Point Ruston sets up with EPA. Ruston would send their invoice to EPA. White needs to confirm that process with EPA. Hunt confirmed that this contractor had not worked for Point Ruston before, so there was no conflict of interest. Passed 5-0.

5. Resolution 539 – Appoint Joe Waters to Planning Commission: Passed 5-0.

6. Resolution 540 – Appoint Tony Camoroda to Planning Commission: This is for an unexpired term (June, 2013) + a new 6 year term. Passed 5-0.

7. Resolution 542 –Adoption of a Police Salary Scale: Hedrick confirmed these were the same figures that were approved in the 2013 budget. Passed 5-0.

8. Resolution 543 – Fire Communications Services with Tacoma: Hunt asked if the new system would save money. Assistant Fire Chief Bruce Allen said it was the same budget amount but a better communication system that would avoid mix ups where Tacoma Fire has been mistakenly dispatched to Ruston. Hardin noted that the agreement included 3.5% increase each year. He thanked Chief Torbet and commended the department for pursuing a safer system for the city. Passed 5-0.

Claims & Payroll 
Passed 5-0 with no discussion.

Mayor’s Time
Hopkins thanked Kevin Moser for volunteering on the electrical undergrounding project. He noted the water line project should start soon and Baltimore Street could then open.

Council Time
Hedrick confirmed the new garbage system was up and running. Hopkins has the staff researching adaptation of old truck to use if new truck goes down. Hedrick also noted the death of his neighbor Manuel Ruiz, probably the longest living Rustonian on Commercial Street. Ruiz was a fine man and a Vietnam vet who raised 3 boys in town.

Hunt also thanked Moser and noted that it was going to be very nice along Commercial Street. She wanted to be sure more electrical line undergrounding is carried forward in the budget. The mayor said that Moser and the town electrician were working on a plan to do just that.

Hardin offered congratulations to the new plan commissioners.

Kristovich had no comment.

Judd had no comment.

The meeting adjourned at 7:39pm.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Council Meeting Tonight

If you love politics is a small town, especially when things are quiet and chugging along, then you'll love tonight's council meeting. The council will declare the sewer replacement project substantially complete, add regulations about how to enforce subdivision requirements (after issues came up on the Stack Hill development) and finalize new rules for nuisance vegetation. The meeting starts at 7pm at the Joyce Community Center if you want to get your dose of small town politics!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

We Have Lights!

The new street lights, minus the above ground wires, are now functioning beautifully along the east end of Commercial Street. The lights are back on the Winnifred Street Bridge too. Take an evening stroll in the area soon and enjoy!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Races Galore

Are you ready to race? Or at least watch someone else race? If so, then Ruston is the place to be this spring. Even if you're not excited to watch the action, be prepared for road closures on these dates:
  • March 16th - St. Paddy's Day Run (map) will loop up Ruston Way, down Bennett, across the Winnifred Street Bridge, down 49th to Baltimore to Commercial, back over the bridge and exit back out Ruston Way.
  • April 20th - Ruston Way 5-K (map) is scheduled to start at the south end of Point Ruston, loop back the site and then down Ruston Way.
  • May 5th - Tacoma City Marathon (map) brings runners up Ruston Way, down Bennett and 54th to Point Defiance Park.
Dust off your running shoes and start training now. It's gonna be another fun season!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lights Out In Ruston

The central part of Ruston has gone dark, for the time being at least. The lights on the Winnifred Street bridge are not working, most likely related to the under-grounding of the electrical lines in the area. No word on when the lights will be back on.

But new lights are shining along the as-yet-unopened Waterwalk thru Point Ruston. Small halos of light line the water's edge out there, a beacon of good things to come!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Weekend Fun Next Door

If you are looking for something fun to do after the hype and sugar-high of Valentines Day, consider taking the kids to watch the sharks eat their version of a treat this weekend. It's a nice stroll to the zoo from any house in Ruston...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Council Meeting Tomorrow

There are plenty of items on the agenda for tomorrow night. Come join the fun at 7pm at the community center if you dare!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Baltimore Street To Open By June

The Ruston council approved a specific schedule requiring Point Ruston to complete improvements of Baltimore Street at their special council meeting on January 29, 2013. The construction will be coordinated with a Tacoma Water project on the same road and opened by June. Notes from the meeting are below:
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Bruce Hopkins at 7pm. All elected officials were present. The agenda was approved with no changes. There were no public comments.

1. Resolution 541Update of Stack Hill Plat Conditions: Ruston planner Rob White outlined the proposed action, which is being done at the request of the developer. The required improvements to Baltimore Street under the Stack Hill plat had not been completed on time. Point Ruston proposed to coordinate the road construction with a Tacoma water line project on the same street. The proposal creates phases; 1) street, curb and gutter on the east side of the centerline would be completed with the water project by June, 2) by end of year Point Ruston would complete the remainder of the project (lighting, landscaping). Councilmember Hedrick asked if developer had agreed to this schedule. He had discussed the same issue with them two weeks ago and it sounded like the same schedule he heard from them. He confirmed that the premium had been paid on the bond and that the bond would remain in place through whole project. Town engineer Jerry Morrissette confirmed that the bond amount was sufficient to cover construction costs if the developer went into default.  Councilmember Judd had Councilmember Kristovich confirm what improvements would be done when. Councilmember Hardin confirmed where those details are outlined and enforceable.

Hardin was concerned what would happen if the Tacoma water project was delayed. The attorney said the schedule for Point Ruston does not rely on the water project; if this schedule is not met, Ruston will go after bond to complete the work.  Councilmember Hunt wanted all the construction items listed out in the resolution. White noted the details are laid out in the plans attached to the plat approval. The attorney outlined changes since the draft was published; mostly corrections to the agenda bill (49th Street for 29th, 15% should be 150% mark up, some changes to the wording on page 4, completion by 12/31/13). Hopkins asked Morrissette what the road would look like if Tacoma was delayed on their work on the western side of the street - the Tacoma method was to grind out the top 2” and then overlay with new asphalt. Hopkins confirmed the structural integrity of both sides would be ok. White noted that Ruston could require a temporary patch if needed. Hunt confirmed that Baltimore Street should be open by June.

Hedrick announced he would vote in favor of the resolution. The schedule was consistent with what he was told by the developer in his two meetings with Point Ruston. Hardin asked if there were any reasons why Ruston would not be allowing building permits on Stack Hill (was anything dependent on this road work). The two issues were not related. He also announced he would vote in favor of the resolution. He didn’t care what the News Tribune thought; the important thing was that Ruston had a good relationship with the developer. The town had not pressured the developer or taken the bond when they missed their deadline for the Baltimore Street work. He hoped the council would not be vilified in future for that. The resolution was approved 5-0.

Mayor’s Time

Council Time
Nothing from anyone.

The meeting adjourned at 7:36pm.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

More Underground Utilities

Mayor Bruce Hopkins has been very vocal about his goal to underground utilities in Ruston. It's a costly proposition, but the council has expressed agreement. With the current budget running at a deficit, everyone agrees the full project will have to wait.

In the meantime, Hopkins has his staff working on plans to accomplish the task (priority areas, preliminary engineering, etc.) - which may lay the ground work for grant applications. And smaller sections of line are going underground whenever finances or other work create an opportunity. One such small section at Commercial and Winnifred is just about complete. Baltimore Street from Commercial to N. 49th was completed late last year. Folks in the area get a preview of the enhanced views that will eventually be seen all over town.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ruston To Hire Environmental Consultant

There are several items on the agenda for the council to address at their meeting tomorrow night. Among other things, they are poised to appoint new planning commissioners and approve a change in the zoning code for the lots behind the former Coles Tavern. They also plan to hire Richard Brady & Associates to assist with plan reviews that need some environmental expertise. Brady & Associates is familiar with Superfund issues. The contract is for a not-to-exceed cost of $100,000 over 2 years, with the costs passed on the developer.

The meeting starts at 7pm at the Joyce Community Center (5219 N. Shirley) tomorrow night (February 5th).

Friday, February 1, 2013

New Garbage Rules

Today is garbage day in Ruston. With the new-to-us garbage collection system, our trusty maintenance guys are again reminding us the new system does more than save wear and tear on their backs, it requires some changes for residents as well:
  • Carts (a fancy name for the new cans with wheels) need to be set on the edge of the alley/street on collection day with the lid opening facing the road (handle towards the property).
  • Carts must be at least 4 feet from other objects on either side or behind.
  • Lids must be closed or the contents spill before they reach the truck.
  • Please make sure the carts have enough clearance from overhanging eaves or gutters so they won't hit anything as they are picked up.
The crew reports that the new system is working well and everyone seems pleased. If you want advice on where to place your carts, one of the guys can stop by and show you. Just call Town Hall at (253) 759-3544 to arrange a visit.