Recreation, the Lakepointe development, the St. Edward Seminary and waterfront accessibility were just a few of the topics touched upon at the Kenmore City Council candidates forum on Sept. 21.
The event was put on by the Greater Bothell Chamber of Commerce and held in the auditorium at Bastyr University in Kenmore.
All six candidates running were present: Suzanne Greathouse and Joe Marshall for Position 2, Nigel Herbig and Patrick O’Brien for Position 4 and Carol Baker and Debra Srebnik for Position 6.
After providing a short introductory statement, the candidates answered questions submitted by the community ahead of time. Audience members also had the opportunity to submit questions during the forum.
BRINGING PEOPLE TO KENMORE
One of the first questions they were asked was what could be done to encourage visitors to come to Kenmore.
Herbig, the only incumbent among the group, acknowledged that creating a sense of place has been a struggle for the city since its incorporation but they are working on it with the Town Square in downtown Kenmore. He also said the city needs to capitalize on what they already have such as St. Edward State Park.
“We need to protect that,” Herbig said.
In response to this question, O’Brien, his opponent, stressed the need for parking in town.
“To get more people, we have to have more parking,” he said.
O’Brien also said the city needs more lodging options for visitors.
“We need some hotels in Kenmore,” he said.
Both Herbig and O’Brien also brought up the Lakepointe development — a proposal for a mixed-use development, which will be built in phases on about 45 acres on Lake Washington where the Sammamish River enters the lake — as key to bringing more people to Kenmore.
Baker also mentioned the development in her answer, noting that the vision for Lakepointe is to become a jewel for residents as well as the surrounding community, with residences as well as buildings for commercial and recreational use.
Srebnik agreed that Lakepointe would play a big role in bringing more people to Kenmore. She also noted the difficulty council faces to develop the site as there are a lot of competing interests that must be balanced.
Greathouse discussed the importance of keeping green space in Kenmore and protecting the city’s historical buildings. She also acknowledged the challenges the city faces in the way it builds out its neighborhoods and said the city needs to be creative in how it deals with traffic.
Marshall’s response to the question was to restore historical buildings such as the St. Edward Seminary. He also said it is important to offer recreational opportunities for people.
THE SEMINARY ISSUE
The candidates were also asked if they supported the renovation of the St. Edward Seminary.
Greathouse said she supports the renovation, saying it is a great opportunity to bring in revenue.
Marshall opposed the renovation as he thinks public land should stay public. However, he supported the fact that there will be space in the building available for nonprofit use.
Herbig also supported the renovation as it keeps the building standing.
O’Brien was against the renovation, saying the proposed use will be geared toward the rich and it will just create parking problems and that St. Edward State Park will no longer be a passive park.
Baker was in favor of the renovation, saying the public-private partnership on the project is innovative.
“I am totally in favor of this project,” she said, noting that the state was honest in sharing its inability to bring the gem to fruition.
Srebnik was also in favor of the project to bring a small, modest hotel to the site.
The candidates were also asked what they thought were the three most important issues that need to be addressed in Kenmore.
O’Brien said infrastructure and the demand for parking and services, reasonable development and testing the waterfront and coming up with viable ways to use the waterfront.
For Herbig, it was the continuation of building sidewalks around town for safer walkways for residents, delivering on the Walkways and Waterways bond, which focuses on improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety and public access to the city’s waterfront, and making sure that when Sound Transit comes through, it works for the community and makes sense.
Marshall said it is important for the city to grow smart, with economic development that improves things for everyone. His other two issues were traffic in Kenmore and the need to grow with heart and provide services for all such as the shelter at Mary’s Place and a potential public pool for all.
Greathouse said her biggest concern was safety when it comes to traffic as well as the opioid epidemic in schools and the community. Her other two issues were economic development and infrastructure.
Srebnik noted that safe streets and neighborhoods, following through with the Walkways and Waterways bond on budget and on time and park improvements and development that benefits all residents were her priorities.
Baker’s three issues were safety, partnering with private services to bring economic development people want and promoting the city as a place businesses want to participate in as well.
The video of the entire forum will be made available online at the Greater Bothell Chamber of Commerce’s website at bothellchamber.com.