Greetings fellow Gig Harbor residents! I hope you all stayed safe and warm through our record cold February and all the snow storms. I’d like to thank our Public Works staff and Police officers for all their extra hard work keeping us safe and functioning through all of the bad weather. They really went above and beyond to help us out.
The record snowfall had us close the Civic Center and for the first time we cancelled a Council Meeting due to the weather. Putting the safety of our employees and customers must always come first.
On February 25th the City Council approved the name of our newest park. We now have an official name for our newest park: Soundview Forest. They discussed all the recommendations from the Parks Commission and our citizens. The park will be a jewel for our City for many years to come as a forest sanctuary right in the heart of our downtown and our waterfront.
Our HR department has been very busy with several key positions open for hiring. We are currently advertising for a full-time in-house City Attorney, something the City has not had for some time after contracting with outside attorney firms in recent years. Having an attorney here at City Hall full time will free up a lot of staff time and give myself and Council better access to the legal advice we need to keep the City running smoothly.
Moving on to our Planning Division, Peter Katich, one of our Senior Planners, was promoted to Principal Planner overseeing the Planning Division of the Community Development Department. We are currently recruiting a Senior Planner to fill out the Planning Division staff. Although understaffed, our Planning Division has been working hard and is doing a great job.
Ancich Waterfront Park is open now. There will be a formal ribbon cutting on Saturday, March 23rd, at noon. Legislators, Representatives and grant funders RCO and Washington State Historical Society have been invited, along with the permitting, design and construction team.
On March 2nd the City Council held their annual Council retreat at the Harbor History Museum to discuss our ideas for the future. Council has a lot of goals to tackle, including finishing up the work items from our moratorium last year and revising the minimum lot size requirements as well as the rules around development agreements. We’ll also be looking at zoning issues around town, particularly around Judson Street and the Post Office and in the Millville area. You can visit our website and read the seven pages of minutes about what we discussed.
You may have read in the paper recently about the school district acquiring the Boys and Girls Club for a future school site. One of the fallouts from that will be the loss of a Senior Center. At our retreat Council agreed that we need to find a new short-term and long-term solution for the Senior Center to make sure that those citizens needs are met. We are forming a committee to look for solutions.
At the March 11th Council Meeting, Mark Hoppen will be making a presentation to Council about the potential for building a new performing arts center. He has a vision for what the City might be able to build in the coming years. I encourage citizens to come and hear his ideas for themselves at the meeting starting at 5:30.
In March the City will be making new appointments to the Arts Commission, Lodging Tax Advisory Committee and the Parks Commission. These citizen advisory boards are very helpful to us and play an important role. We appreciate the citizens that sit on these committees and we encourage people within our community to apply for future openings on our boards and commissions.
In November last year, with the departure of the Tourism & Communications Director, the City Council passed a motion to have a blue-ribbon commission help determine the best path forward for the department. Their goal was to complete this by the first quarter of 2019. Based on the Council’s decision to do this, I formed an Advisory Committee made up of stakeholders in the community. I invited representatives of organizations and businesses, whose collective expertise, involvement, and extensive knowledge of Gig Harbor, could best help guide the direction of our tourism and marketing department moving forward. We held two very productive and insightful work sessions with the Advisory Committee just this week, along with a few councilmembers who were there to observe. Out of those work sessions, Mimi Jansen, the Interim Director of Tourism & Communications, along with City Administrator Wade Farris and I, were able to take away a strategic vision and direction for the department. In the next month we will focus on their advice and work on a comprehensive plan to present to the council later in April.
Verizon Wireless has approached the City about installing a new cell tower on the Skansie water tank (near the intersection of Skansie and Rosedale). This would be a standard cell tower and not one of the new small cell (5G) installations that the City is currently working on legislation for. We’ll be working with Verizon to see if a lease agreement can be made to use the site.
The city recently completed a study of the speed limits within the city and will be presenting that information to the Public Works Committee on March 12th at 3:00 p.m. The results of this study are used to verify the speed limits the City has in place around town.
On April 8th at 4:30 we’ll have an open house in the Civic Center lobby to address improvements to Stinson Avenue. Public Works staff will be on hand to answer questions about the overlay and intersection improvement projects that the City could undertake. Council will be discussing the potential for adding roundabouts at key intersections at Stinson & Rosedale and Stinson & Harborview. You will have a chance to share your comments with Council at the Council Meeting that follows.
I am proud of our employees. I am honored to serve as Mayor of Gig Harbor. We truly live in a unique area that has such a vibrant community with great people.