Kenmore council discusses regional issues with King County’s Dembowski

Aquatic centers and affordable housing were among the topics of the meeting with the King County Councilmember.

Rod Dembowski

Rod Dembowski

The Kenmore City Council discussed a wide range of local and regional issues during a dinner meeting with King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski and his staff on Jan. 28.

The city first thanked Dembowski, who was recently selected to chair the county council, for his advocacy and securing funding for the development plan for a passenger ferry on Lake Washington, as well as the police department’s RADAR/navigator program.

The county’s 2019-20 biennial budget, which was adopted last November, includes a $780,000 investment in North King County’s Response, Awareness, De-escalation and Referral (RADAR) program, which helps build a bridge between law enforcement and mental health services.

Kenmore’s representatives want to work with the county on grants for future projects, including a regional aquatic center and affordable housing. The city is looking at King County’s youth recreation grant for the boathouse at Rhododendron Park.

Dembowski said he is hoping to include pools in the county’s upcoming parks levy renewal, which is set to be finalized in April and placed on the August ballot. Aquatic facilities rose to the top of issues in the county’s last planning survey, said Garrett Holbrook, Dembowski’s legislative aide. Adding a penny or two to the levy amount could generate millions for pools, which would be split up countywide.

“Ensuring an equitable distribution of the funds is kind of Rod’s biggest goal,” Holbrook said. “An implementation plan [would] identify how the region would share the money.”

Dembowski said the levy could include a capital grants fund for regional recreational facilities and a pool fund.

“The county, in the early [1990s], got out of the pool business. It was killing us from an operational perspective,” Dembowski said. “I view these as a regional athletic facility, and also through an equity lens. If you have money, you can get on the wait list and buy into the neighborhood pool…Public pools are something that I think our region needs and in the north end, we’ve got a shortage of.”

The current draft sets the levy at 17 cents per $1,000 assessed value, which would cost the average taxpayer $84 a year, or $7 a month, he said.

“People love this parks levy and I know we’re in a period of tax sensitivity…but I think people assign value to it and are willing to make that investment,” Dembowski said.

The Kenmore council also thanked Dembowski for listening to local residents during King County Metro Transit’s restructure on the north end, and keeping Route 234, which serves Inglemoor High School.

“You and your office staff really listen to the communities. When we talk to you, you guys take it to heart,” said Kenmore Mayor David Baker.

Also on the transportation side, the city noted that the current park and ride in Kenmore is likely the best location for the city’s new parking garage. The council urged the possibility of transit-oriented development, affordable housing and a quality design opportunity with the garage.

City manager Rob Karlinsey said the city is working closely with Sound Transit, “making sure it’s designed well.”

“It needs to fit the quality and character of our community,” Karlinsey said.

Holbrook said that Metro is “aware of the project itself and the opportunities that exist at the site to do more than just a parking garage.”

Karlinsey said Kenmore wants to do a joint proposal with the city, property owner and A Regional Coalition for Affordable Housing (ARCH) for “a real, meaningful affordable housing project” and “make a go” at the $8 million the county made available for affordable and workforce housing in the north end.

Dembowski said that he is also working with the North Urban Human Services Alliance (NUHSA) on a north end regional collaboration initiative for housing.

See www.kingcounty.gov/council/dembowski for more.

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