Citizen input asked on City's Comprehensive Plan | Looking Forward

May 27, 2015

This summer you will see the usual uptick in roadway construction as well as maintenance projects timed for the drier months.  Most of these projects have been in the planning stages for more than 10 years.

In city speak, five to 10 years is a short time frame.  And it’s worth remembering that the activity we see today had its genesis in a Comprehensive Plan years, if not decades before.

In June, the Planning Board will likely wrap up its discussion on the current Comp Plan in preparation for sending it on to the City Council for recommendations.  Diverse elements like Transportation, Parks and Economics have all been discussed since the beginning of the year.

 

Here’s how the process works…

City Staff prepares a list of projects that they expect to work on in the coming years in the various categories, or Elements. The Planning Board reviews the projects, makes suggestions and affirms current directions.  Public hearings for each of the Elements provide citizens an opportunity to contribute to the discussion.  When final edits are made, the Planning Board recommends each Element to the City Council for further discussion and review.

When all of the Elements have been discussed, they are packaged into the final Comp Plan which is then reviewed in its entirety before going back to the City Council for approval.  While this may seem like an over-zealous process, it is one that provides for multiple kinds of input from citizens, boards and ultimately the City Council.

Once the plan is in place, it becomes the over-arching set of policies that provides a basis for prioritizing projects, securing funds and rolling out improvements in the coming years.

 

Here’s the kicker…

Most of those projects will not be completed during the next six-year planning cycle.  They will wait until there are funds or additional warrants that set up the timing for their completion.

One of the most important things the Planning Board will do for the planning process is to oversee what happens to the proposals during the intervening years.  One example, Yost Pool, is looking at plans to replace, remodel or even relocate the city’s swimming hole.  Regular maintenance has extended the life of the pool, but even those have limits.  At some point, the pool will have to be replaced if we are to have a pool somewhere in Edmonds.  The City Staff will be watching both the current conditions as well as citizen involvement to determine when to move that project to the top of the list.  To see the current plan for that project, you can look at the Parks Element of the Comp Plan.

It’s important to realize that if projects are not on the list, they will not be reviewed or prioritized for funding or citizen input.  City Staff continually looks for grant funding from county, state and federal sources in order to complete some of our larger projects.  A recent example of a grant-funded project was the Five Corners traffic circle.  That project was in the Transportation Element of the Comp Plan for over 10 years, a relatively short time frame until it qualified for a federal grant that paid for almost the entirety of the construction.

 

Looking Forward…

The Planning Board should wrap up its deliberation on the current Comp Plan and send it on to the City Council in June.  Look for the measurable outcome that the Planning Board is crafting for each Element.  When the process is complete, there will be one outcome for each Element that the city will measure over the next six-year planning cycle.

Before those measures are finalized, there will be at least one more public hearing and one more opportunity for the City Council to make adjustments.  Once those outcomes are determined, we, the citizens of Edmonds, will be able to watch how effectively we collectively participate in reaching those targets.

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