‘Do not pass’ sign to be added to Newcastle Way bus stop

September 15, 2011

NEW — 3:20 p.m., Sept. 15, 2011

New “do not pass” street signage will be added within the next two weeks near the bus stop on Newcastle Way near the Coal Creek Parkway intersection in an effort to warn drivers not to pass buses loading and unloading passengers there.

The Newcastle City Council voted Sept. 6 to add the sign after members of the community, the council and the city’s public works department expressed concern about drivers performing the dangerous, illegal lane changes.

The sign will be installed in the landscape strip on the north side of Newcastle Way before the bus stop.

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Bisset pulls ahead in City Council primary

August 17, 2011

NEW — 4:50 p.m., Aug. 17, 2011

Gordon A. Bisset has established a commanding lead in Newcastle’s primary race for the fourth position on the City Council.

With about 70 percent — or 938 votes — Bisset pulls ahead of candidate Frank Irigon, who has gathered 312 votes, or about 23 percent to total votes cast, according to updated information provided on the King County elections website.

Both candidates will advance to the November ballot for the general election.

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Councilman Sonny Putter to retire

April 11, 2011

UPDATED — 4:10 p.m. April 13, 2011

Councilman Sonny Putter announced April 11 that he will not seek re-election this year, ending his 17-year stay on the City Council.

Sonny Putter

Putter was elected to the council in 1994, and he was re-elected in 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007. He also served as mayor from 2000-2001. Putter sits in Position 4 on the council.

Putter said he decided not to run for re-election based on the direction the council is taking the city.

“We’ve got a less collegial, more corrosive atmosphere on the City Council,” he said. “Going forward, I didn’t think I could make a difference.”

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Council members Lisa Jensen, Steve Buri file for re-election

April 1, 2011

UPDATED — 1:45 p.m. April 4, 2011

Councilwoman Lisa Jensen and Councilman Steve Buri have announced they will seek re-election this November.

Jensen and Buri, whose terms expire at the end of the year, each announced the news in March. Jensen sits in Position 1 and Buri sits in Position 3 on the City Council.

All council positions represent the entire city.

Steve Buri

Lisa Jensen

Councilman Sonny Putter’s and Councilwoman Carol Simpson’s terms also expire at the end of the year, but they said they had not yet decided whether they wanted to run for re-election.

Jensen and Buri were both first elected to the council in 2007.

Jensen said she filed to continue making Newcastle an even better community.

“I believe Newcastle is a great community for a lot of reasons, but it’s the people that make it special,” she said. “I believe that Newcastle has a great future, and I want to do my part.”

She said she also wants to continue encouraging community involvement in events such as Newcastle Days, and maintain communication between city government and residents.

Jensen said she feels the biggest issues facing the city are budgetary. She said the city still has significant challenges ahead when it comes to living within its means.

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Newcastle city staff to see salary, benefits changes

April 1, 2011

The city’s 21 employees will soon see their salary ranges get a little larger, their merit pay changed, vacation time capped and cost-of-living raises scrapped.

Reductions in employees’ healthcare coverage, approved last fall, will also be permanent.

The Salary and Benefits Committee recommended the changes, and the City Council unanimously approved them Jan. 18.

The changes to salary ranges had been overdue, said Councilwoman Lisa Jensen, who chairs the committee. Previous policies dictated that the committee re-examine salary ranges every three years, but it had not done so for about five years.

By Dona Mokin

The committee compared Newcastle salaries to those in similar cities, averaging the high and low salaries elsewhere to make up Newcastle’s new salary ranges.

The new salary ranges — which widened on both the high and low ends — will shift to reflect trends in cost of living, and will take the place of annual cost-of-living adjustments that employees had received each year.

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Celebrities to come to Newcastle in June for golf tournament

April 1, 2011

UPDATED — 2:30 p.m. April 1, 2011

A crew of celebrities will take to The Golf Club at Newcastle June 27 for the fifth-annual Jim Mora Celebrity Golf Classic, event organizers announced in March.

The Jim Mora “Count On Me” Family Foundation is organizing the event, which raises money for Special Olympics Washington, the Boys & Girls Club of Bellevue and other local children’s charities.

The 2010 tournament raised more than $211,000, and the money benefited 17 charities.

Celebrities who attended last year’s event included Super Bowl champion football Hall of Fame inductee Marshall Faulk; five-time NBA MVP Bill Russell; NBA Hall of Fame player and coach Lenny Wilkens; former Seattle Mariner Jay Buhner; former NBA players Detlef Schrempf and Slick Watts; and Hall of Fame NFL player, five-time Pro-Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion Michael Irvin.

The tournament is free and open for the public to attend, although those who wish to participate must pay a fee. Organizers will announce this year’s list of attendees in early May.

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City Hall to relocate by end of the year

March 4, 2011

UPDATED — 4:25 p.m. March 4, 2011

Council turns down offer to use both floors of current building

Newcastle City Hall will move to the second floor of the Newcastle Professional Center, 12835 Newcastle Way, by the end of the year. By Tim Pfarr

So long, 13020 Newcastle Way. The City Council voted to move City Hall to the 7,500-square-foot second floor of the Newcastle Professional Center, 12835 Newcastle Way, by the end of the year.

City staff recommended the move, expected to cost $250,000.

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Work plans approved for 2011 planning, parks commissions

March 4, 2011

The City Council approved the 2011 Parks Commission and Planning Commissions work plans with a 7-0 vote at its March 1 meeting.

Drafts of the work plans were first presented at the Feb. 15 joint City Council, Parks Commission and Planning Commission meeting.

This year, the Parks Commission will review the city’s comprehensive plan — which details the city’s vision — updating the parks, recreation and open space portions. The city needs to update its comprehensive plan every six years to be eligible for state grants. The plan has not been updated in eight years.

The Parks Commission will also discuss ways to increase recreational opportunities, possibly through collaboration with the Coal Creek YMCA and Regency Newcastle.

The commission will take an active role in community events once again this year, as well as in Newcastle Days. In the third and fourth quarters of the year, the Parks Commission will create a draft of trail construction standards and a public art policy.

The Planning Commission will review the city’s community business center for the first and second quarter of the year.

It will discuss issues such as the city’s restriction on drive-thrus, the city’s 75-foot building-height limit and floor-area-ratio density requirements.

The Planning Commission will work on the review through the second quarter of the year. In the second and third quarter, the Planning Commission will discuss possibly allowing greater used of impervious surfaces in the city’s mixed-use development zones north of Lake Boren and northeast of the Newcastle Golf Club Road and Newcastle Way intersection.

It will also discuss allowing more impervious surfaces in open spaces, such as in the site of the future sports park north of Southeast 95th Way. City code states that only 2 percent of open space may contain impervious surfaces, such as asphalt pathways and parking lots.

In the third quarter, the commission will also propose amendments to the city’s comprehensive plan and discuss extending the city’s developer stimulus program, which delays development fee collection.

In the fourth quarter, the commission will perform its annual code cleanup and update its code regarding communication infrastructure.

The Parks Commission is a nine-person advisory body to the City Council that works on issues regarding city-owned parks. It works on park planning, park design, park construction, park and facility development, renovation, trails and paths, recreation programs and special community events, according to the city’s website.

The Parks Commission meets at 6 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month in Council Chambers, 13020 Newcastle Way.

The Planning Commission provides advice and makes recommendations to the City Council regarding the city’s comprehensive plan and development codes. It meets at 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month in Council Chambers.

Parks and Planning Commission meetings are open to the public and have opportunities for public comment.

Parks upkeep to be funded next year

December 2, 2010

The City Council amended the 2011 preliminary budget to include $62,000 for parks maintenance, as the budget had previously called for maintenance of the city neighborhood parks to be discontinued.

The amendment was one in a string of more than a dozen approved by the council.

The council also approved a 1 percent property tax hike, although it also voted to reduce storm water fees by about $36 per household. Through the combination, those with homes worth less than about $1.5 million will see a reduction in taxes.

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City Hall closed due to snow, but special council meeting still on

November 23, 2010

NEW — 11:20 a.m. Nov. 23, 2010

City Hall is closed today due to snow, but the City Council will still hold its special meeting at 6 p.m. tonight to make amendments to the 2011 budget and possibly adjust the property tax levy rate. The meeting will be in the Council Chambers, 13020 Newcastle Way.

City Manager Rob Wyman said city maintenance workers continuously roamed Newcastle’s streets overnight, using the city’s three trucks armed with snowplows. One trucks broke down during the night, and it is now being repaired.

Roads are being cleared in accordance with the city’s priority map, which you can see here. Wyman said priority one and many two routes are in fair condition, but priority three and four routes have not have mostly not been plowed and are still very slick.

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