City Council Summary: May 16, 2022

The meeting began with a moment of silence for the victims of domestic terrorism incidents in Buffalo, New York and Laguna Woods, California. Eleven were killed in separate racially-motivated attacks.

City Council proclaimed the week of May 15, 2022 as National Public Works Week. The City’s Public Works Engineering Director Paul Bucich accepted the proclamation and reflected on the contributions of professionals in his field to the community.

“They’re the ones who show up in the wee hours to close off the roads in the event of a flood. They’re the ones that work 12 hour shifts over and over during snow and ice events. It’s not a glamorous profession, but we’re all dedicated to it.”

Lakewood’s Public Works Engineering Director Paul Bucich accepts a proclamation recognizing the week of May 15 as National Public Works week.

The Fort Steilacoom Park Cross-Country Invitational event is poised to return. The annual event has been held in Lakewood for 22 years. It attracts thousands of runners and spectators from all over the state. Canceled due to COVID and hazardous weather in recent years, the tradition is likely to resume this September.

Three contracts were authorized to begin sidewalk installation projects. Sidewalks will be installed along Steilacoom Boulevard between Fairway & Custer, Phillips Road between Agate & Onyx, and Ardmore Drive from Steilacoom & Whitman.

A conditional use permit was recently issued for an Enhanced Services Facility at 11435 Pacific Hwy SW. Enhanced Services Facilities (ESFs) are residential care facilities for individuals with complicated behavioral needs.

The state’s behavioral health strategy intends to move civilly committed patients from state hospitals into residential care facilities. Patients with more advanced needs are better cared for in more secure and better staffed Enhanced Services Facilities than Adult Family Homes. This facility would be one of only nine in the state. It is the City’s position that more cities must follow Lakewood’s lead in permitting this vital behavioral healthcare capacity.

Public comment was invited and many focused on the recent closure of the Lakewood Library by the Pierce County Library System. Both facilities are in poor physical condition. At the downtown branch, leaky roof has allowed water to infiltrate, necessitating its closure. A citizen committee is being formed to make recommendations about future library services and facilities in Lakewood.

A long process is beginning to fundraise towards the restoration of the Fort Steilacoom Park “H-barn”. Partners for Parks will lead the effort to raise public and private contributions with the goal to restore the dilapidated barn as an event venue and community asset.

City Council recently reviewed the proposed Six-Year Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP). The plan details planned road and sidewalk improvements. Significant projects include updates of South Tacoma Way, Nyanza Road, Hipkins Road, Custer Road, and others. Lakewood is making huge strides in sidewalk construction of late – pedestrian safety is a priority in current and future projects.

The City adopted a Shoreline Restoration Plan in 2019. Semantic updates were subject to a public hearing and no comments were received. The 2022 Carry-Forward Budget Adjustment was adopted.

The City is considering rule changes for the renaming of parks and facilities. Last year, a resident proposal to rename Fort Steilacoom Park drew some misinformed outrage. Any application to rename a facility must go through a process with several approval stages and opportunities for public comment. Most importantly, the application must enjoy “broad community support”.

A special tree advisory committee met several times in March and April to produce a list of recommendations to improve tree code. The committee’s report is now available. The City has conducted extensive community engagement to gather opinions about trees, and two future public hearings are scheduled. Residents may express their views about trees or property rights in writing on the city’s website in the “ISSUES” section under “TREES”.

WSCCCA Past President Joe Clark announces the return of the Fort Steilacoom Park Cross-Country Invitational this year to the Lakewood City Council.