Kenmore Action Network aims to help communication between residents, city
By MATT PHELPS
Bothell Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
November 1, 2012 · 1:56 PM
Kenmore is one of the youngest cities in the state. Incorporated in 1998, the municipality has had many issues to work through, such as building a city hall, defining the direction of the city and dealing with the normal taxes, economy and maintenance issues of the last decade.
But two of the biggest issues for the city as of late are creating a downtown core and the alleged contamination in the north end of Lake Washington.
“We are at a big turning point for this city,” said Kenmore resident Jirius Isaacs.
Isaacs did not like what he was seeing earlier this year, not only from the council but from the lack of communication from residents, so he decided to do something. Isaacs started an organization aimed at perpetuating communication between the city and Kenmore residents - the Kenmore Action Network (KAN).
“There has been anger from the community that (the council) discuss(es) everything in executive session,” said Isaacs. “It’s like having a KAN meeting and not letting people show up.”
“I was hearing a lot of people complaining saying they were going to leave town because they were frustrated with the council. I formed KAN so they would have a voice.”
Isaacs designed KAN to be a public forum with meetings once a month at the Kenmore Library. And while KAN is open to any ideas and issues within the city, the main topics thus far have been the contamination and the downtown core at Kenmore Village.
“We have made inroads and had input on the downtown core and the lake issues,” said Isaacs.
The contamination of Kenmore waters in Lake Washington is allegedly caused by barges transporting concrete anchors for the new 520 bridge from the Kenmore Industrial Park, which was formerly a landfill. Many in Kenmore and surrounding communities, such as People for an Environmentally Responsible Kenmore or PERK, have alleged that the barges stir up the sediment at the bottom of the lake causing dioxin contamination.
KAN seeks to be a place for organizations such as PERK and residents to come together and have dialogue with the city and other public entities to discuss the issues. KAN even raised enough money to hire its own scientist, Greg Wingard, to study the contamination.
The downtown core has caught the attention of many residents and will be the main focus of a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1 at the Kenmore library.
The city purchased the land that is just to the west of City Hall, known as Kenmore Village, a few years ago and is attempting to sell and redevelop it as a downtown core. Kenmore Camera is slated to take over what would be the anchor position in the development, but many residents are unhappy with the process.
“They talked to Kenmore Camera behind closed doors and wouldn’t tell us what was going on,” said Isaacs, who is a real estate agent. “No one in town thinks it is a bad idea, it is just how they do it.”
“They want it done as quick as possible and get it off their books. We need a place to hang out and meet other people from Kenmore but we need to do it right.”
KAN currently has 60 unofficial members from the community. The organization has been effective in its goal to spur communication as Mayor David Baker and Kenmore City Manager Rob Karlinsey attend the meetings. They are not KAN members, but they go to the meetings to listen to what residents have to say.
“We want you to come into our meetings and we will hold you accountable,” said Isaacs.
Karlinsey said that the group has a good following and that city officials have an opportunity to use the organization as another communication conduit to residents.
“They are a good group of good people,” said Karlinsey. “I don’t know that they are purely representative of Kenmore but they have been very helpful to me.”
KAN has a Facebook page and a yahoo group with tons of information as well.
One issue that Isaacs tries to stay away from in KAN meetings is the past.
“Everyone wants to complain about the past but we have to move forward,” said Isaacs. “People don’t get it. We have to work on the future.”
“I want people in the city to give us feedback about what they want in the downtown core,” said Isaacs. “People can email us or even send letters to the editor to the Kenmore Reporter.” That email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
KAN’s email account, at KenmoreFeedback@gmail.com, is set up so that residents can express their ideas on city issues to the organization, which will then bring those ideas to city officials during the monthly meeting. Isaacs said that he would like to put together a survey on city issues for residents in the near future.
The next KAN meeting will take place in early December.
The Kenmore Action Network meets at the begining of each month at the Kenmore library. It is designed to be a forum for residents to discuss issues and ideas with city leaders. Ideas and concerns can be sent to KenmoreFeedback@gmail.com
Contact Bothell Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at email@example.com or 1-425-483-3732 (ext 5050).