Help clean the historical cemetery

May 7, 2010

NEW — 3:17 p.m. May 7, 2010

From 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. tomorrow, Newcastle Weed Warriors, Scout Troop 499, Hazelwood Cub Pack and volunteers will clean the Historic Coal Miner’s Cemetery, 7810 129th Ave. S.E., in preparation for its Memorial Day opening.

The cemetery is only opened on major holidays and by appointment. Volunteers and members from The Newcastle Historical Society maintain the cemetery.

As part of the cleaning, volunteers will remove downed branches and groom the loop trail inside the cemetery.

All are welcome to join in the effort. Volunteers should park at Lake Boren Park and walk north to the cemetery using the gravel path west of the park. The cemetery is located about 500 yards up the path.

Call Weed Warriors founder Grace Stiller at 228-7927 for more information or learn more here.

Library project moves forward without Lorig

May 7, 2010

Plan has standalone building without adjacent housing

The latest rendering of the Newcastle Library was shown at the Earth Day celebration April 24 in Lake Boren Park. Contributed

The King County Library System has decided not to extend its contract with the developer Lorig Associates in the Newcastle library project, KCLS officials said.

Read more

Newcastle Days team chosen

May 7, 2010

The 2010 Newcastle Days festival has the green light this year, as Mayor John Dulcich has appointed a team to organize the festival.

Parks Commission Vice Chair Koleen Morris will lead the effort, and she will work with two of her fellow parks commissioners, one member of the Newcastle Historical Society and three members of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce.

“Newcastle Days is a very important event for the city. Citizens enjoy the day immensely,” Morris said. “I wanted to ensure that the tradition continues. This year, we are going to try to get broader community support and more local volunteers.”

From the Parks Commission, Morris will work with Suzi O’Byrne and Diane Lewis, and she will work with Pam Lee from the Newcastle Historical Society.

“I’m confident we’re not going to miss a beat,” Lewis said.

From the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce, Morris will work with Puget Sound Energy Municipal Liaison Manager Angela Wingate, Coal Creek Utility District Commissioner Doug Kunkel and Sweet Decadence owner Sandra Wixon.

Read more

Council votes chartreuse signs out

May 7, 2010

City to revert to old designs, colors, logo

Through five separate motions made by Councilman Bill Erxleben at the April 6 City Council meeting, the council voted to put an end to the city’s branding campaign that began almost three years ago and cost more than $191,000.

At the April 20 regular meeting, the council also voted to return to the city’s original logo, designed by resident Jane Kozlovsky in 1994. The vote also involved reverting to old business card, stationery and letterhead designs.

As a policy, all new street and park signs installed will now be in accordance with old signage standards, making new street signs dark green and new park signs maroon.

The new way-finding signs for the transit center that were stored in City Hall were put to surplus. Also, signs in phases two and three of the transit center project were replaced with signs of the same design as those in the first phase in the project. Through this, all signs that were not dark green or did not have borders were replaced.

Furthermore, the council directed city staff members to remove the entrance sign on Coal Creek Parkway at the south entrance to the city. The sign was then removed within two days of the April 6 meeting.

Read more

Recruiter helps search for new city manager

May 7, 2010

The City Council directed Mayor John Dulcich in March to contact three recruiters — Prothman and Associates, Waldron & Co. and the Populus Group — to search for a new city manager.

Dulcich said he chose the three organizations because they offered a variety of specialties. The council discussed the recruiters at its April 20 meeting and decided to meet again with Greg Prothman, president of the recruiting company, at its May 4 meeting, after Newcastle News’ deadline.

At the April 20 meeting, the council spoke favorably to various options Prothman presented for the recruitment process.

Prothman offered three recruitment levels. In the most basic level, the recruiter would identify the ideal candidate and perform initial reviews. In the second level, the recruiter would additionally perform further screening through candidate workshops.

In the final level, the recruiter offered a full package that would also help through final interviews by assisting with formulating questions, conducting background checks and coordinating candidates’ travel plans.

State budget has money for new Lake Boren playground

May 7, 2010

The state capital budget, approved last month, includes $325,000 for the replacement of the Lake Boren Park playground.

City officials have not yet developed a detailed timeline for when the new playground equipment will be installed, but city officials said they hope to have it on the ground this year.

State Sen. Randy Gordon, who represents Newcastle, brought the item forward in Olympia after receiving a wish list of capital projects from the city earlier this year.

“Of course, it’s always one of the greatest pleasures for any public servant to try to meet the needs of the local community,” Gordon said.

He said the playground was particularly rewarding for which to obtain funds.

Read more

Council approves budget policy prohibiting budget deficits

May 7, 2010

The City Council approved a new budgeting policy at its April 20 meeting that prohibits the city manager from bringing forward annual budgets that contain deficits.

A budget with a deficit is one in which expenses exceed revenue.

The city adopted budgets with deficits in previous years, including in 2008 and 2009, and the budgets used unused funds from prior years and assumed an increase in taxes to make up for the shortfall. The new motion requires that the city manager not rely on any use of unused funds from previous years or assume any tax increases when creating an annual budget.

The motion to pass the new budgeting policies passed 6-1, with Councilman Sonny Putter dissenting.

“I think this enhances the fiscal discipline in our own budgeting process,” Mayor John Dulcich said.

Councilman Bill Erxleben also praised the new policies, saying it is an example of zero-based budgeting. In zero-based budgeting, one prioritizes expenses and funds them as one can until funds have been depleted.

Putter said he felt the new policies were too restrictive for the city manager.

“I feel we’re unduly tying the city manager’s hands,” he said, adding that the city manager should be given a degree of flexibility when preparing a budget.

The new policy was brought forward by the Finance Committee, which consists of Dulcich, Erxleben and Councilman Rich Crispo.

Branding: Smart idea or expensive blunder?

May 7, 2010

After ending the city’s branding project that lasted for almost three years, members of the City Council gave their opinions on the entirety of the project.

“The City Council owes an apology to our citizens for wasting $191,000 of their tax dollars,” Councilman Bill Erxleben said at the April 6 meeting.

He said the former city manager and former council majority made an appallingly bad decision by going forward with the branding project, adding that the decision was made worse because of financial strain the city was facing.

In an interview after the meeting, Erxleben said branding is significant in more remote cities, such as Leavenworth and Winthrop, where businesses, residents and visitors need to be attracted. However, he said branding isn’t necessary in a city located within a seamless series of suburbs, where attraction is done with other things.

“It isn’t done with signage. It isn’t done with logos,” Erxleben said about a suburban city’s draw. “It’s done with the quality of life in your city.”

Read more

Rapid Response

May 7, 2010

Thanks to State Sen. Randy Gordon, $325,000 of the state capital budget will go to buy Newcastle a new Lake Boren Park playground. What features do you think the playground should include?

Oh, the possibilities. I love the playground set up at Coulon, since there’s one for the bigger kids and one for the smaller tykes. My anxiety level goes down knowing my little ones won’t be trampled by the much bigger and older kids there.

— Trina Sooy, Newcastle

Great news! I’m hopeful there is a little something for all ages.

— Troy Anderson, Newcastle

An area with soft-rubber padding on ground, which can be used for yoga, tai chi and other like exercises, or one that features a themed landscape and kids-friendly play sculptures. We could also use a few more benches throughout the park.

— Quyen Tang, Newcastle

A climbing wall would be terrific.

— Suzi Beerman

Read more

Editorial: City never needed a brand or chartreuse signage

May 7, 2010

Thank you, City Council of 2010, for righting a wrong.

Newcastle never needed to be “branded” with new logos, and it never needed unreadable (and therefore unsafe) chartreuse signs. The branding plan might have seemed like a good idea at the height of the Eastside’s growth years and Newcastle was on the verge of developer interest in the downtown. But that was then and this is now.

The brand that was selected just didn’t work, and it spiraled out of control. Throwing out the chartreuse street signs and other design changes — and the nearly $200,000 expense — surely makes taxpayers sick to their stomachs. No one wants to witness such in-the-eye government waste, but in this case, the view is better off in the long run with a return to the time-proven, high-contrast, green-and-white signs.

We hope the only discussion we hear in the near future about “branding” Newcastle will be more in line with a vision for strengthening the community from the inside out. Outsiders will get the message.

Library plan to move forward is welcome

We have to hand it to the King County Library System for trying to do something different with the Newcastle Library. But once again, the recession has interfered with the best-laid plans.

The Newcastle Library has been planned to be a multiuse project, combining multifamily housing along with the library. The public-private partnership was innovative, and may still go forward — someday.

But Newcastle needs a library now. Actually, the library was needed a decade ago and approved by voters six years ago.

Moving forward without the housing component in a phased development is the right choice. Leaving a question mark on what phase two might be is appropriate, given the uncertainty of the market and the city’s future needs.

« Previous PageNext Page »