By Sarah Brusig

The Kent City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 was called to order at approximately 7 p.m. In attendance were Kent Mayor Dana Ralph, Kent City Council President Bill Boyce and Councilmembers Brenda Fincher, Satwinder Kaur, Marli Larimer, Zandria Michaud, and Councilmember Les Thomas.

The minutes from the May 3, 2022 meeting were approved unanimously barring no changes.

Public Communications
There were three proclamations issued at the May 17 occurrence. They were, in order: Proclamation for National Police Week, Proclamation for National Public Works Week and Proclamation for Women in Aerospace Day.

After an “extensive recruitment” resulting in the non-hiring of qualified candidates, Ralph asked for reappointment of Colleen Thomas to the Civil Service Commission.

Upcoming notable community events in the Kent area are games by the Seattle Thunderbirds, the Awaken Music Festival, The X League football team will debut on June 25, 2022 with another game on Aug. 27, 2022, as well as additional offerings at the accesso Showare Center. Kent United Methodist Church will offer a mini recycling event on May 20, 2022. Textiles, documents for shredding, paint, and other household items will be accepted and diverted from the landfill. The Pride flag will also be raised on June 1, 2022 at Kent City Hall in honor of Pride Month.

In the public safety report, Police Chief Rafael Padilla offered insight to local heroic events and issued medals of honor to the responding officers. Sergeants Butenschoen and Johnson received the Chief’s Exceptional Duty Award, along with Officers Flesher and Holloman. The Chief’s Award of Citizen Recognition was awarded to Scott Kober for “going beyond what would be a normal call of duty” to help others. Kober said he was “just doing the right thing.”

Chief Padilla gave an update to Council on newly filled officer positions and recruit positions. On the flip-side, there are currently nine officers are out for injuries, some being long-term. This shortage needs to be backfilled for public safety. Coffee with the Chief will take place on Wednesday, May 18, from 8-10am at Macrina Bakery in Kent. “Come hang out with our officers – find out what’s going on,” Chief Padilla said.

Mayor Ralph’s Report
Judge Matthew York met with Mayor Ralph to discuss the implementation of community court in places like Auburn and Renton and additional district court updates. Mayor Ralph gave an update also on the Regional Transportation Plan.

Chief Administrative Officer’s Report
Chief Administrative Officer Pat Fitzpatrick offered an update on the executive session, which he expected to last 10 minutes.

Councilmembers’ Reports
Councilmember Boyce shared updates on the 2021 budget and backfilling vacant positions.

Councilmember Michaud filled in during the Kent Parks and Open Space Plan committee meeting for Councilmember Boyce and provided an update on the “priority project list,” largely dependent on the budget available. The 2023-2024 budget is facing a structural imbalance due to high inflation. The Human Services Commission grant application process just closed and is being reviewed.

Councilmember Kaur issued an update regarding heating and electric pumps from the Estate Building Code Council beginning in July 2023. On Monday, May 23, there will be a waste management tour.

Councilmember Troutner discussed grants that have been approved in an effort to “bring cultural events into the city” where the hope is for an increase in spending at restaurants and hotels.

Councilmember Larimer was under the weather and unable to attend her committees, but would offer an update at the next opportunity.

Councilmember Thomas said he’s currently reviewing goals and objectives with his committees.

Councilmember Fincher issued a reminder that the Kent Art Walk occurs the third Thursday of every month and the current theme is “Here Comes the Sun.”

Public Hearing
Public Hearing on the 2023-2028 Transportation Improvement Program was presented for consideration. The resolution was unanimously adopted without discussion.

With no public commenters present, the consent calendar was approved.

Other Business
The City currently owns real property abutting the eastern portion of Naden Street, also known as Naden Avenue and one parcel abutting the western portion of Naden Street/Avenue. Naden Street/Avenue does not connect to any other roadways and City staff recommends that a portion of Naden Street/Avenue be vacated through the street vacation process set forth in Chapter 6.09 of the Kent City Code. A public hearing date of June 21, 2022, was unanimously secured at Council to discuss vacating Naden Street/Avenue.

The second order of “other business” was regarding vacation proceedings for a portion of right-of-way consisting of an alleyway situated between properties located between Railroad Avenue S. to the west and Bridges Avenue S. to the east, and E. Russell St. to the north and E. Morton Street to the south. A public hearing date of June 21, 2022, was unanimously secured at Council to discuss the street vacation of Alleyway.

Salt Air Vista Park is a small neighborhood park on Kent’s West Hill that is being renovated. Built just two blocks off Pacific Highway South in the late 90’s, it is showing its age.

The Salt Air Vista Park Renovation Project Bid was presented and awarded. The project consists of installation of a new playground and swing set, new site fixtures, nature play area new plantings and irrigation, as well as construction of new stormwater improvements within the park. Stormwater work will include construction of a new rock-lined swale, culvert, and paved concrete flume. A public bidding process yielded a total of two bids, with the lowest responsible bidder being L.W. Sundstrom, Inc. The Engineer’s estimate for this project is $375,000 – $425,000. Council approved the bid unanimously.

Council went into executive session to discuss potential litigation next.

The recorded broadcast is available on Kent TV21, and, or you can watch it below:

Sarah Brusig has been in media and publishing for over 15 years and previously served as the president of the Society of Professional Journalists – Western Washington chapter. Sarah is the recipient of the McCormick Foundation New Media Women grant and was presented with the Community Builder Award by Rep. Pramila Jayapal. She resides in South King County where she regularly advocates for human rights, animal rights and education. Keep up with Sarah on Twitter and Facebook or to reach out with story ideas/suggestions.

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