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A Note From Your Mayor


Jul 05

Mayor's Update - July 5, 2019

Posted on July 5, 2019 at 3:17 PM by Joshua Stecker

The City has recently received several inquiries about the City Administrator being placed on administrative leave. We understand our citizens would like more information regarding the circumstances, but at this time we need to make sure we are following the proper process. We are not trying to withhold information from anyone and we are willing to disclose all the information we can, but we must respect Mr. Farris’ rights in this matter. 

Jun 28

Mayor's Update - June 28, 2019

Posted on June 28, 2019 at 4:19 PM by Joshua Stecker

Welcome to Our Long Summer Days!

Summer Sounds started this week. Our first band was Mark Hurwitz and Gin Creek. It was well attended. Our citizens were very respectful and waited till 3 pm to put their chairs out allowing children and citizens use of the park up to three hours prior to the concert. We had great feedback on Facebook showing thanks and appreciation.  Please feel free to bring your items earlier than 3:00 and leave them behind the Skanise House Visitor Center if needed. The City will not be responsible for any lost or stolen items.

South Sound Magazine has named Gig Harbor the “Best City in the South Sound” for 2019! Here is what they had to say about our town: “From a historic waterfront with stunning views to its wide variety of shopping and dining experiences, Gig Harbor has been voted the Best City in the South Sound for the second year in a row.” You all play a major role in making our City the best! Great job everyone!

At our last two council meetings several items passed. We renewed several leases and have a basic Professional Service Contract to study what it would take to bring our Masonic Temple building up to compliance for future use.  We are also moving towards partnering with the Kiwanis and our Native Americans to have an Honor Symbol at Austin Estuary. Council also adopted an Ordinance on May 28th making it illegal for pet stores in the city to sell dogs, cats, or rabbits. This ordinance had a lot of support from residents and people from as far away as Puyallup and Bremerton. We hope this ordinance will help discourage puppy mills and the inhumane practices they use. We also passed phase 1 of our Public Works Operational Center contract to prepare the site for our new Public Works Building at a cost of $2,140,615. That will happen in 2020.

Though we had several good applicants for our in-house attorney we have decided to wait until January of 2020 to proceed with this. As a result, we renewed our contract with Ogden Murphy Wallace through December 2019. We did negotiate a lower hourly rate by extending the contract. We will probably start the process again to look for an in-house attorney in late September.

We are working hard to negotiate agreements with the Gig Harbor Canoe & Kayak Club and the commercial fishermen to finish the floats at Ancich Waterfront Park. This process will take time and we are working with both groups to discuss their needs and the needs of the community.  Council and I have put in a lot of time working toward getting this done with both parties wishes in mind and we want to be sure we take the time to do what is best for our community as a whole.

The City of Gig Harbor had invested a large amount ten years ago towards the building of the Boys and Girls Club. This money was for our Senior Citizen program that was at the club. The Boys and Girls Club has sold their building to the school district and just yesterday gave back $100,000 to our city. The city will donate this money towards the Senior Citizen program. Council, with input from our seniors, will later determine if the money will be used for ongoing maintenance or possibly towards a new facility or a combination of the two.

On June 26th, the City will begin accepting applications for funding from our Lodging Tax fund for 2020. This is a chance for groups that are planning events for next year to apply for funding to help with their marketing costs. The goal is to bring in more visitors to Gig Harbor from places 50 miles or 2 hours away or more. Our Lodging Tax Advisory Committee will review all the applications in October and make recommendations to Council to award funding. Look for the funding application on our website next week.

We are working to add two more volleyball courts at Crescent Creek Park. Since the Sports Recreation Center did not have a plan for them, we felt this was a great alternative for the community. They would be just north of the present two courts and would not have the trees to the north removed. The drainage should be better than the present BMX trail at the top. This would also allow us to work towards a new Pump Track as the BMX is in bad shape. The Park Commission has supported this plan and we are currently working through permitting. The volleyball group is paying for most of it and the City’s financial responsibility will be around $12,000 to $15,000.

Work will start on Stinson Avenue starting July 8th. The water main will be replaced along Grandview between Pioneer and Stinson, and on Stinson from Pioneer down to Rosedale. These streets will be intermittently closed to one lane and there could be delays through these busy intersections. We will be posting regular updates online, so please be sure to plan ahead and think about alternate routes if needed. On the night of the Beatniks concert at Skansie Park the construction will stop at 2pm to allow access to the concert from many roads.

We awarded TSI a consultant contract for a conceptual design for intersection improvements at Stinson and Harborview. The options that will be considered will be either a roundabout, a traffic light or a hybrid of what is there with improvements of some sort. All options will be considered. Council will hold study sessions on July 15th and 29th to discuss these options. There will also be an Open House on July 22nd at 4:30 to answer your questions and take your comments on these options.

Next week on Tuesday the 2nd of July is “Coffee with Kit” at 7 am at Kimball Expresso. This is for citizens to be able to ask me questions about the city.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July.

Cheers,

Kit


May 20

Mayor's Update - May 17, 2019

Posted on May 20, 2019 at 11:41 AM by Joshua Stecker

Hello Everyone,

The Maritime Gig Festival, the City’s biggest event of the year, is almost here! Our Parks and Public Works staff are busy all over town getting everything ready and cleaning up the last of the winter debris. The festival kicks off with a fun run and the Yo Ho Harbor Grande Parade on June 1st. City staff, councilmembers and myself will be walking right up front in the parade, so be sure to come out and say “hi!”

Speaking of cleaning up, I want to thank all of the citizen volunteers who turned out on Parks Appreciation Day last month to help us clean up our parks all over the City. Working alongside our Parks Division staff, you really accomplished a lot. I’m particularly proud of how nice our new trails at Soundview Forest Park are looking.

I am also happy to announce our newest city employee, Nicole Jones-Vogel. She is our new Park Manager. She comes to us after working in Anchorage as their Lands Manager. She is educated as a planner with parks experience. Welcome Nicole!

To bring our citizens up to date, at the last council meeting many issues were discussed and/or passed. The City Council adopted a formal policy for the annual holiday display at Skansie Park. The policy provides for a holiday tree and up to six other display items (up to 4 feet in size) to be chosen annually by the Mayor with respect given to the City’s holiday tradition. Presently there are five city owned display items which include the traditional Nativity scene, a candy cane, a snowman, a reindeer and sled, and a holiday present. The council also adopted an Ordinance that allows the Mayor to accept donated items from citizens for the holiday display or other uses by the City, provided the items don’t violate any other City policies.

The pet store ordinance had its first reading with a lot of discussion about puppy mills and what is humane. The ordinance is to make sure dogs, cats and bunnies are bred in a humane way. There was enough discussion and needed answers to council questions that we will allow public comment at the second reading on May 28th. This also reminds me to let you know because of the holiday on the 27th the next council meeting will be Tuesday the 28th of May.

Several other items passed. You can listen to the recording or view our minutes of the meeting at the city’s website. One of those topics which I spoke of under mayors’ comments was the need to fund the Ancich float which would be to provide a dock for the human powered boat park. The park is now finished yet there is no access to the water by the public or the kayak team. There is a lease in place to partner with the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak team to build the dock. Because of the fish window by the state we can only build it at certain times of the year. If we partner now with the kayak team and the city, both committing to put funds forward than we could get this built by July 2020. My goal of supporting this solution was to show council where we have $400,000. - to put forward and to have council sit down in a work session, or council meeting and begin the process. I hope this can happen. It is in the council and kayak teams’ hands now to work toward s a solution.

The warmer weather means more people out on the water and our little harbor can get pretty crowded at times. Our Police Department has partnered with the Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard to create a short video called “Go With The Flow” to help educate kayakers and paddleboarders on how to stay safe in the harbor. You can watch the video here: https://bit.ly/2W5PcCd

In March, the federal government established the whole Puget Sound as a National Maritime Heritage Area. This could open up a lot of grant opportunities for the City to work on preservation projects around the harbor. City staff will be exploring these opportunities to see if there are grants we can get to help us out with our parks.

Stinson Avenue is going to be getting a lot of attention this summer. In July work will begin on replacing the watermain along the length of the road, starting at the intersection of Stinson and Grandview. Traffic will be reduced to using one lane at times, so be sure to keep up with project activities on the city’s website. The City Council will also be reviewing options for the intersections at Rosedale and Harborview to increase safety and traffic flow.

Last November the City’s Transportation Benefit District (TBD) put an initiative on the ballot to raise the City’s sales tax two-tenths of a percent (from 8.5 cents to 8.7 cents) in order to fund needed transportation repairs. Still one of the lowest in the Puget Sound area. That ballot measure failed by 41 votes, but the TBD Board voted to try again this year. The City will be making a strong effort over the summer and fall to get the facts out about this proposed tax increase. The sales tax increase would amount to 20 cents per hundred dollars but be paid by everyone that buys anything in the city. This method would mean that the citizens benefit but would be paying only a small portion of the tax but everyone that enters the city will have better roads built to accommodate the growth.

I’m happy to report that the Senior Center has found a new temporary home at Harbor Covenant Church after they lost their space at the Boys and Girls Club (which is being converted to a new grade school). And in other good news, the Boys and Girls Club has agreed to refund the City a certain amount of the City’s contribution to build the building that was supposed to house the Senior Center. Once complete this amount will be disclosed. That money will be set aside to help the Senior Center find a new permanent home. The City is working with PenMet Parks and the county “where most of these seniors are coming from” to find a long-term solution.

The Gig Harbor Arts Commission was given a budget of $20,000 this year to award grants to local artists. The application for people looking to receive grants is now live and can be found here: The Arts Commission will review all the applications and try to get funding to as many artists as possible. You can read more about the process on the Arts Commission's webpage here: http://www.cityofgigharbor.net/361/Arts-Commission

I look forward to seeing you at the parade on June 1st and the Blessing of the Fleet the following day. Please look at our new Visitors Guide that has just come out. It has our summer calendar in it and list the summer free concerts, movies and so much more.

Until next time. Cheers,

Kit