The Stanwood City Council met online Thursday to approve a plan for small "parklets" in parking spaces to test ways to revitalize business districts.
The council unanimously approved the parklet pilot program as a test to see if a larger vision is viable to revitalize downtown with more pedestrian activities and events.
Businesses could convert part of the street-side parking into parklets with seating for restaurants or space for retail shops to extend outside.
The parklet guide says this offers space to meet the requirements of Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee's Safe Start plan with social distancing and outdoor seating.
The pilot program starts in historical districts, on 270th Street in the west and 271st Street in the east. If the program is a success, it can be expanded to other businesses who want to participate.
City Administrator Jennifer Ferguson said a parklet would cost about $10,000-$15,000.
Participating business owners would pay for, build and maintain the parklet.
The council agreed to waive permit fees after council member Judy Williams said it would be contrary to offer the parklet program and then charge permit fees.
Ferguson said the city could offer CARES Act funds as part of the local business grant program, using grants of $2,000 to $3,500 to help kick-start the parklet program. The grants would reimburse expenses once the parklet is built.
“City has a lot of latitude in saying what is economic recovery. This meets the eligibility requirements,” she said.
“We’re testing the water,” Ferguson said. “As we work toward town concepts, creating those festival streets … this will tell us how it works — well or not.”
While this pilot program will not change traffic, expanded festival street plans consider different traffic options, including rerouting traffic for a pedestrians-only block, allowing one-way traffic or allowing traffic to flow through over a tabletop area with temporary closures for street festivals.
The City Council also approved money for a flood protection project and learned that six people have applied for a vacant council seat.
Vacant council seat
Six people have applied to for the council seat vacated July 23 when Elizabeth Callaghan became mayor.
The applicants are Angela Guadamuz, Arne Wennerberg, Cody Davis, Darren Robb, Larry Sather and Marcus Metz. Their applications can be viewed at stanwoodwa.org/487/City-Council-Vacancy.
The council discussed how to interview the applicants. The interviews and decision are scheduled for the next meeting, 7 p.m. Sept. 10, which will be conducted via Zoom.
Council members will each provide a few questions. Ferguson and Callaghan will synthesize questions, and the council will review them. Then the set of questions will be sent to applicants who will each have five minutes to answer and make a presentation during the meeting.
The council will be allowed to ask follow up questions. After a discussion in executive session, the council will vote at the end of the public meeting.
The council approved the bid of $921,000 from Interwest Construction Inc. for Phase 1 of the Irvine Slough Stormwater Separation project. The engineers estimate was $987,477.
This project will be the first phase of separating Stanwood water from Irvine Slough. Work begins Aug. 31 and should be complete in March.
“Currently, when there is a flood, Stanwood storm drain pipes get closed off at Irvine Slough and downtown Stanwood can’t drain. This could result in the entire downtown filling with water,” City Engineer Shawn Smith said.
This project will allow drainage from the Irvine Slough pump station to be pumped separately from floodwater into Irvine Slough. It includes an additional pump, controls and piping by the Cookie Mill into Irvine Slough.
Other city business
Callaghan gave her first mayor’s report. She said that city staff has been accommodating and encouraging as she learns her new position. In the Transit Board meeting, she was pleased that the board honored former Mayor Leonard Kelley for his impact on the Transit Board.
Stanwood City Planning Commission has a vacant seat. Commissioners study city issues and make recommendations to the council. The term ends December 2022. To apply, go to stanwoodwa.org/322/Planning-Commission and review rules of procedure and bylaws and then submit an application by 4:30 p.m. Aug. 31. Call 360-629-2181 with questions.
Ferguson announced that “Citizens Comments” are coming back to council meetings. Citizens can send comments in, and the city clerk will read them into the minutes. Staff is still working on ways to accommodate citizens comments themselves.
Public Works Director Kevin Hushagen reported on park progress. Play equipment is being installed at Church Creek Park on Aug. 17-18. Heritage Park ballfield renovations have gone out to bid.
Meanwhile Hamilton Park is coming along. The Department of Ecology has no further issues and there’s no hazardous cleanup required at this former wood mill site. The boat launch project awaits approval and park design is nearly complete.
“We expect to start building the park in the beginning of 2021,” Hushagen said.