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A Note From Your Mayor


Mar 08

Mayor's Update - March 8, 2019

Posted on March 8, 2019 at 4:30 PM by Joshua Stecker

Greetings fellow Gig Harbor residents! I hope you all stayed safe and warm through our record cold February and all the snow storms. I’d like to thank our Public Works staff and Police officers for all their extra hard work keeping us safe and functioning through all of the bad weather. They really went above and beyond to help us out.

The record snowfall had us close the Civic Center and for the first time we cancelled a Council Meeting due to the weather. Putting the safety of our employees and customers must always come first.

On February 25th the City Council approved the name of our newest park. We now have an official name for our newest park: Soundview Forest. They discussed all the recommendations from the Parks Commission and our citizens. The park will be a jewel for our City for many years to come as a forest sanctuary right in the heart of our downtown and our waterfront.

Our HR department has been very busy with several key positions open for hiring. We are currently advertising for a full-time in-house City Attorney, something the City has not had for some time after contracting with outside attorney firms in recent years. Having an attorney here at City Hall full time will free up a lot of staff time and give myself and Council better access to the legal advice we need to keep the City running smoothly.

Moving on to our Planning Division, Peter Katich, one of our Senior Planners, was promoted to Principal Planner overseeing the Planning Division of the Community Development Department. We are currently recruiting a Senior Planner to fill out the Planning Division staff. Although understaffed, our Planning Division has been working hard and is doing a great job.

Ancich Waterfront Park is open now. There will be a formal ribbon cutting on Saturday, March 23rd, at noon. Legislators, Representatives and grant funders RCO and Washington State Historical Society have been invited, along with the permitting, design and construction team.

On March 2nd the City Council held their annual Council retreat at the Harbor History Museum to discuss our ideas for the future. Council has a lot of goals to tackle, including finishing up the work items from our moratorium last year and revising the minimum lot size requirements as well as the rules around development agreements. We’ll also be looking at zoning issues around town, particularly around Judson Street and the Post Office and in the Millville area. You can visit our website and read the seven pages of minutes about what we discussed.

You may have read in the paper recently about the school district acquiring the Boys and Girls Club for a future school site. One of the fallouts from that will be the loss of a Senior Center. At our retreat Council agreed that we need to find a new short-term and long-term solution for the Senior Center to make sure that those citizens needs are met. We are forming a committee to look for solutions.

At the March 11th Council Meeting, Mark Hoppen will be making a presentation to Council about the potential for building a new performing arts center. He has a vision for what the City might be able to build in the coming years. I encourage citizens to come and hear his ideas for themselves at the meeting starting at 5:30.

In March the City will be making new appointments to the Arts Commission, Lodging Tax Advisory Committee and the Parks Commission. These citizen advisory boards are very helpful to us and play an important role. We appreciate the citizens that sit on these committees and we encourage people within our community to apply for future openings on our boards and commissions.

In November last year, with the departure of the Tourism & Communications Director, the City Council passed a motion to have a blue-ribbon commission help determine the best path forward for the department. Their goal was to complete this by the first quarter of 2019.  Based on the Council’s decision to do this, I formed an Advisory Committee made up of stakeholders in the community. I invited representatives of organizations and businesses, whose collective expertise, involvement, and extensive knowledge of Gig Harbor, could best help guide the direction of our tourism and marketing department moving forward. We held two very productive and insightful work sessions with the Advisory Committee just this week, along with a few councilmembers who were there to observe. Out of those work sessions, Mimi Jansen, the Interim Director of Tourism & Communications, along with City Administrator Wade Farris and I, were able to take away a strategic vision and direction for the department. In the next month we will focus on their advice and work on a comprehensive plan to present to the council later in April.

Verizon Wireless has approached the City about installing a new cell tower on the Skansie water tank (near the intersection of Skansie and Rosedale). This would be a standard cell tower and not one of the new small cell (5G) installations that the City is currently working on legislation for. We’ll be working with Verizon to see if a lease agreement can be made to use the site.

The city recently completed a study of the speed limits within the city and will be presenting that information to the Public Works Committee on March 12th at 3:00 p.m. The results of this study are used to verify the speed limits the City has in place around town.

On April 8th at 5:30 we’ll have an open house in the Civic Center lobby to address improvements to Stinson Avenue. Public Works staff will be on hand to answer questions about the overlay and intersection improvement projects that the City could undertake. Council will be discussing the potential for adding roundabouts at key intersections at Stinson & Rosedale and Stinson & Harborview. You will have a chance to share your comments with Council at the Council Meeting that follows.

I am proud of our employees. I am honored to serve as Mayor of Gig Harbor. We truly live in a unique area that has such a vibrant community with great people.

Cheers,

Kit


Feb 04

Mayor's Update - February 1, 2019

Posted on February 4, 2019 at 9:42 AM by Joshua Stecker

Happy 2019 Gig Harbor! We’ve been busy, starting the year off with several recruitments and two Council meetings! Councilmember Jim Franich was appointed by Council to serve as Mayor Pro Tem. I look forward to having Jim work with me to be able to fill in when I’m not available and keep the City on course.


The City Council has awarded a contract to Gary Jackson to fabricate and install stainless steel and bronze artwork to be mounted around the new Ancich Waterfronk Park boat storage facility. Construction of the Ancich Waterfronk Park boat storage facility is nearing completion, with landscaping work underway. We amended the design to allow for grasscrete pavers on the lower section instead of solid concrete pavers. This will be much more aesthetically pleasing as well as environmentally friendly. We will also be working to ensure that the Ancich Pier is driveable for vehicles up to 10,000 lbs.


Council has approved two ordinances that will restrict that use of disposable plastics by businesses in the City. Beginning in June of this year, businesses will no longer be able to provide single-use plastic carryout bags to customers. Businesses can provide re-usable plastic bags or 40% post-consumer recycled paper bags. In November of this year, restrictions will go into effect on businesses for providing plastic straws, cutlery, and other disposable plastic items.


The City passed legislation last month that provides for the design and location of small cell wireless facilities. This is the new 5G small cell that’s being mandated by the federal government. Council was not pleased that the federal government is forcing this issue on us. This is to help with low-lying areas that have poor reception. These units would be mounted on street lights and water towers. The new rules have been passed on an interim basis and Council will be discussing their options for permanent rules in the weeks to come. Without passing this legislation, the carriers would have the ability to put small wireless cells wherever they wanted.


Council unanimously approved a Resolution supporting the School District Bond that will be on the February 12th ballot. This bond would raise $198,550,000 to build two new schools and rebuild two existing schools that are badly needed.


At our January 28th Council Meeting, we congratulated the Gig Harbor High School Women’s Soccer team for their accomplishment of winning the State Championship!


The City will soon begin work on planning Phase 5 of the Cushman Trail which will extend the northward from Borgen Blvd. to the Purdy urban growth area. PND Engineers will conduct the study for the City on a professional services agreement. The City received a $200,000 federal grant for this study.


On February 6th, there is a Parks Commission meeting where they will be looking at the names that have been suggested for our new park at Soundview and Harborview. We will also be working on a site plan, deciding where to put a donated park bench and a potential gazebo. As time permits, the gazebo will be purchased with pledges from the community. The park is dog-friendly, with many walking trails and a picnic bench.


Angela Summerfield, our designated City Attorney from the firm Ogden Murphy Wallace, joined us for her last City Council meeting on January 28th. Angela has been a great help and a reliable advisor for the City for over 10 years. Ogden Murphy Wallace has several other good attorneys that will be working with us, but Angela will be greatly missed.


Please help us congratulate some promotions and new members to our City! Police Sergeant, Michael Cabacungan was promoted after serving as an officer with the Police Department for 14 years. Ryan Erwin was also sworn in as the newest officer on the police force. Trent Ward who has been promoted to fill the position of City Engineer and brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the job and his familiarity with the City will be a great benefit to us. We are happy to have Melissa Hartwig join our HR Department as an HR Assistant, after formerly working in our Community Development Department as a Planning and Building Clerk. A huge welcome to Madeline Kinney, laborer to our Public Works Operations team!


We have several positions that will be getting posted soon. If you know of anyone who may be interested, please have them visit our HR page or go directly to www.govjobstoday.com to see what is available. We are currently looking for a Parks Manager, GIS Coordinator, Part-time Court Clerk, Senior Planner, among other positions that will soon be posted. We are also awaiting council approval to post an in-house attorney.


Our Human Resources team is working on evaluating all of the city’s personnel policies to make our staff more efficient and empowered to do their jobs well. Council has adopted new policies related to personnel overnight travel, social media posts, and employee conduct.


Our final 2019 Budget will be online and available on Wednesday, February 6th. Council will hold a retreat on March 2nd to work on upcoming goals and tasks to move our City forward in 2019.


Staff and I look forward to continuing to serve our great community in positive ways in 2019!


Cheers, Kit


Dec 20

Mayor's Update - December 20, 2018

Posted on December 20, 2018 at 3:46 PM by Joshua Stecker

Holiday Greetings friends and citizens of Gig Harbor!

Much is happening around the City:

  • On December 10th, Building Official Paul Rice officially awarded the City a Certificate of Occupancy for the Civic Center building. City staff have been diligently working toward completing every item and task up to the highest standard. With the planting of a the last few trees, the Civic Center is now officially complete.

  • In my last blog post, I wrote about my decision to veto Council’s initial adoption of Ordinance 1401 raising the transportation impact fees. Council discussed the fees and projects further at their December 10th meeting and adopted my recommended removal of two projects (#10 the Hunt Street Crossing project and #12 the roundabout that might be considered associated with #10). The new TIF rate of $5,071.44 is much more equitable and allows the City to move forward with the planning for many needed transportation projects.

  • We have received many great name suggestions for the new forest park on Soundview and Harborview. The Parks Commission will be reviewing the suggestions and making recommendation to Council in the near future. We’re also looking at adding exciting new features to the park like benches and even a gazebo.

  • We are excited to announce that Katrina Knutson has been hired to fill the Community Development Director position. Katrina has spent the past three years as the City’s Parks Manager and has recently been serving as the interim Planning Director since Jennifer Kester left the City. It has been my vision even before I was elected to combine the building and planning departments under one director. I have studied cities that have Community Development Directors and our city also had done this for over six years at one time. After I took office I spent time observing and studying the departments. That convinced me it was the best decision to go this direction and that I should move forward with my plan. One of the most important aspects of my vision was to find the right person. After a thorough search and extensive studying of the candidates there was a clear choice that Katrina Knutson is that person.

  • The City is also working through the process of filling the City Engineer and Human Resource Assistant positions.

  • I am happy to say that the City Council and myself supported having the Nativity scene back at Skansie Park under the tree. It had been a part of our traditional holiday display with other secular items for over 12 years.

  • At our last Council meeting we did pass a motion to deed land to our local food bank FISH. This had taken several years of work. I wish to thank Pierce Transit, Derek Kilmer, Council, our Public Works Staff and FISH for helping to make this possible. There were many challenges that had to be overcome for this to be a reality for FISH to build a new food bank building to serve our community.

  • The monthly Coffee with Kit meetup has been cancelled for January. The next session will be on Tuesday, February 5th, at 7:00 a.m. at the Kimball Coffeehouse.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday season.