Happy holidays to all! Gig Harbor is a special place to spend the holiday season and I hope that all of our citizens are enjoying all that our City has to offer.
On Saturday, December 7th, we held the City’s annual tree lighting ceremony. Santa arrived by fire truck and greeted all the kids while the Skansie Netshed provided hot chocolate for everyone.
Its also a season of change for the City. Councilmembers Ken Malich, Michael Perrow and Spencer Hutchins are wrapping up their terms. A reception was held honoring these councilmembers for their service before the December 19th Council Meeting. Their contributions to the City will be felt for years to come and I thank them for their dedication.
We will be welcoming new Councilmembers Tracie Markley, Robyn Denson and Le Rodenberg at a special reception at 4:45 on January 13th, right before the Council Meeting. This is a great chance to come and meet your newest representatives. It will also be an opportunity to meet our new City Administrator, Bob Larson. Bob officially starts on January 6th and I am looking forward to the experience he can bring to us.
Once we have our new City Administrator on board, we will begin filling some key positions. We are already collecting applications for a new Tourism & Communication Director and IT Manager and we plan to start recruiting for an in-house City Attorney in March. I’d like to thank our HR staff for all their hard work in helping keep us at full staff.
A couple weeks ago I gave Chief Busey permission to start the process to add two more police officers to our Police force. This will bring our Police back up to full strength so they can do their vitally important job of keeping our City safe.
The City Council adopted the 2020 Budget on November 25th. The new budget is a good balance of providing for the City’s needs while also saving enough to make sure we are in a good place in the future. In past years the city managed to save about $80,000 and $50,000 annually in the Strategic Reserve and Equipment Reserve funds respectively. The 2020 budget not only carried these contributions forward, but also contributes another $1,000,000 which was achieved through disciplined budgeting.
One of the key discussions in the budget was how to proceed with the floats at Ancich Waterfront Park. Council decided to move forward with the plan to construct a float for human powered watercraft off of Ancich Pier but agreed that a feasibility study needs to be completed first on the eventual construction of a Fisherman’s Home Port. Staff has already kicked off the process of conducting the feasibility study and we hope to get the float project underway soon.
There is a new piece of art in Grandview Forest Park thanks to a grant from the City’s Arts Commission. Local artist George Kinney has transformed one of the large tree stumps near the restrooms with his chainsaw carving. Stop by and take a look at it.
Council has been busy revising the Municipal Code on developments. Chapter 19.08 which allowed the City to consider and enter into development agreements was repealed in its entirety. Council also approved an Ordinance which set subdivision minimum lot sizes at 7,500 square feet in the R-1 zone, 5,800 square feet in the R-2 zone, and 4,400 square feet in the R-3 zone. An additional Ordinance was passed that prohibits new Planned Residential Developments after 2019. These changes were all made to help preserve the character and small town feel of Gig Harbor.
City Public Works/Engineering division staff prepared and submitted two grant applications, for two City Street improvement projects, to the Washington State Transportation Board (TIB) in August 2019, and on November 22, 2019, the TIB awarded the City both grants. TIB awarded $459,400 for the construction of the Stinson Avenue/Rosedale Street Roundabout, and $816,000 for the construction of the Stinson Ave/Harborview Dr Intersection improvements. The TIB grant application and award process is where Municipal agencies within the State submit grant requests in an effort to compete for State gas tax dollars to help fund local transportation projects based upon the needs, merit, and value of the projects to improve the mobility, safety and function of transportation and pedestrian facilities within the region. Congratulations and Thank You to the Public Works/Engineering Division staff for all their hard work in preparing these grant applications and for their success in obtaining these grants! Construction of these road improvements will start July of 2020.
Peninsula School District is placing a renewal of their Educational Programs and Operation Levy on the February 11th ballot. Dr. Art Jarvis, Superintendent of the District, came to a Council Meeting to educate citizens about the need for the levy renewal. Council unanimously voted to issue a Resolution in support. This levy doesn’t increase any property taxes. It just renews the taxes that you are already paying to fund the salaries and maintenance costs of the District.
Council has authorized an agreement with Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One (Pierce County Fire District No. 5) to have the District conduct the City’s fire inspections for local businesses. This agreement has been in negotiations for over a year and is awaiting final approval by the District Board.
Again, I am excited to have Bob Larson as our new City Administrator start on January 6th.
I hope that each of you have a wonderful holiday season surrounded by family and friends!