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Q&A with Kenmore City Council candidate Laurie Sperry | Vote 2013
The Kenmore Reporter newspaper conducted a Q&A with all the city council candidates for a story that ran in the newspaper published July 5. Here is the Q&A with Laurie Sperry in its entirety:
What do you see as the top three issues facing the city of Kenmore?
1. Economic development: Economic development that includes: increasing access to the waterfront, promoting Kenmore’s high quality of life, supporting local businesses and attracting new services, shops and restaurants to Kenmore.
2. Transportation infrastructure improvements: Kenmore inherited a rural infrastructure when we incorporated as a city in 1998 lacking sidewalks and other more urban amenities. It would cost $36 million to put sidewalks throughout the city or $2 million a year. The council just adopted a 20-year sidewalk plan to build priority sidewalk segments seeking grants to leverage city dollars.
State Route 522: SR-522 carries 50,000 cars a day through Kenmore, which has increased 9 percent with tolling on the 520 bridge.
Sammamish Bridge: The condition of the Sammamish bridge is being closely monitored and may need to be restored or replaced in the near future, which is a major financial investment.
3. Financial sustainability: As a council member, I am very concerned about the overall tax burden on citizens. Rather than immediately raising taxes to balance the local city budget, I supported cost cutting and looking at ways to do more with less before asking more from our citizens.
Keeping the city on a firm financial ground is a challenge as fixed costs continue to rise and state and federal funding continues to be reduced. Currently, the city has a balanced budget, healthy reserves and no city debt.
How do you feel the city handled the acquisition and sale of the Kenmore Village property and what more should be done moving forward?
The purchase of the Kenmore Village property was prior to my joining the council in 2006. I’ve been focused on finding the right buyers to implement the community vision of a walkable, vibrant, attractive town center.
It has been a long process to get to the place we are now with redeveloping the properties. The recent worldwide financial crisis made it impossible for the development to move forward. It is easy to criticize when one sees empty storefronts and assumes that nothing is happening and for awhile that was true.
However, the time of waiting is over. Kenmore Camera is working hard to move into their new store by Fall. On June 10 I voted to approve the purchase and sale agreement for the redevelopment of the remaining commercial property. Public amenities will include a 10,000-square-foot public town green space, new sidewalks, lighting and street-scape.
The purchase and sale agreement for the residential portion (upper lot) is tentatively scheduled for the July 8 council meeting. In total, the residential and commercial redevelopment provides an estimated 8.3 million in direct economic benefit to the city with more than 25 million in new private investment.
In your opinion, what is the best way to spur growth in the city and build a sense of community between businesses and the local government?
A local business organization is important to increase the communication between the city and businesses so that the city can be aware and responsive to providing the best regulatory environment possible to attract, retain and grow businesses in our community.
The city of Kenmore joined the Bothell Chamber of Commerce and is actively supporting the formation of a business group - Kenmore Business Alliance.
Kenmore is actively seeking businesses for the new Kenmore Business Incubator. The start-up companies that qualify receive professional mentoring, along with an affordable place to work and grow. Businesses are asked to remain in Kenmore for at least a year after graduating from the incubator.
Supportive local government: Kenmore has worked to reduce and simplify development regulations to bring clarity to the process. Permitting has been streamlined for construction. City staff works hard to find positive solutions to any conflicts or problems that arise with local businesses.
If you have an issue that is important to you please tell our readers about it and what you would like to do about it as a council member?
I am passionate about all kids having a place to play within walking distance of their home - especially kids living in downtown Kenmore. I would love to see a basketball court, an updated skate park and community gardens to start. My long-term dream is to start a Boys and Girls Club in downtown.
It takes more than the city council to make these dreams come true. As a council member, I would seek to partner with other individuals and organizations so that Kenmore kids can tell their kids all the fun they had while growing up in Kenmore.
What is your campaign website address for residents to learn more about you?