News

Sequim Speaks disbands

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

Outreach group stops

The citizens advisory group Sequim Speaks, established by Sequim City Council, has decided to disband after more than two years.

 

Members represented four quadrants of the community to facilitate two-way communication between citizens and the city council on issues.

 

Chairman Mike Mc-Aleer said there’s been a lack of community interest in volunteering for the panel.

“We were about half strength most of the time,” he said.

 

John D’Urso, former chairman for Sequim Speaks, said the group chose to disband because the city is finding new ways to get its messages out, particularly through public relations.

 

City councilors decided at their annual retreat on March 9 to allow Sequim Speaks to go on its own if members chose to continue the program. Sequim Speaks held its last meeting March 27.

 

D’Urso and McAleer said members gained a better understanding of city projects through the group.

 

“The City of Sequim and city management have matured,” D’Urso said. “When this was put together, it was kind of iffy out there. The city council has coalesced behind the city, making us almost obsolete.”

 

McAleer said most members of Sequim Speaks were active in city government in some form prior to joining and likely will continue in some capacity.

Tribe and city partner on bridge

The city and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe will share future maintenance costs of a 600-foot bridge to be built near the city’s Water Reclamation Facility.

 

The bridge replaces a 50-year-old levee and two culverts in Washington Harbor at an estimated cost of $1,750,000, which the tribe received in grants.

 

Councilors voted 6-1 in late February on splitting maintenance costs. The city water plant’s outfall line, or treated water excess, goes through the levee from the plant and under Schmuck Road into Sequim Bay.

Councilor Erik Erichsen voted against the partnership: He said maintenance costs could later affect city residents although the bridge is out of the city limits.

 

“We suspect for many, many years there will be no maintenance,” City Manager Steve Burkett said.

The bridge’s site is owned by a trust administered by Mark Burrowes. As part of the agreement, the city holds an easement to operate and maintain the outfall line.

 

Hansi Hals, the tribe’s environmental planning manager, said the tribe became involved to improve Washington Harbor’s habitat, which holds a primary pocket estuary for salmonid and for summer chums, a threatened species.

Councilors review city manager

Burkett received high marks from city councilors for his annual review, which was done in executive session on March 26. On a scale of one to 10 with 10 being best, councilors gave him an 8.58, based on managerial performance (8.54), councilor/manager relationship (8.6) and employee and public relations (8.6).

 

Councilors listed his major 2011 accomplishments as acquiring a site for the new police station/city hall and completion of employee and citizen satisfaction surveys.

 

Some of Burkett’s accomplished goals were to maintain and update a long-range financial plan that maintains a balanced budget, develop and recommend a capital improvement program and begin updating the comprehensive plan.

 

Councilors suggested Burkett improve his quarterly reporting, continue developing positive relations with regional leaders and improve the budget as a policy document. Burkett does not receive a salary increase in 2012.

Biomass meeting postponed
A Sequim town hall meeting, announced in the city’s utility billing newsletter, on the Nippon Paper Industries’ biomass incinerator project has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, May 14, at the Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St.
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