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,