Letters to the Editor

'Miracle' happens in city spending

A miracle hath occurred.

Recently in the Mirror, our only relevant hometown voice, I was taken to task by a Sound Transit person, a Mr. Stipe, because I had referred to the corner of 320th and Pacific Highway South as “the infamous corner of ... ” I personally suspect he was acting at the behest of our own City Council transit person, Mary Gates. However, in pooh-poohing my conclusion, he proceeded to quote capacities, percentages, transit assessments, etc., to demonstrate how wrong I was to think a new 1,200-space car garage in the middle of our shopping center would exacerbate traffic. About which, Gates said, “Complainers reflect poorly on the city, cost the city money and won’t stop the project, anyway.” The obvious conclusion: He’s correct, since he’s the very knowledgeable expert and I’m just the ordinary citizen whose only qualification is that I’ve been driving that corner for 44 years.

Now, the miracle:

At the July 15 transit meeting in the council chambers, we found out we have a traffic crisis on –– guess where? –– the infamous 320th and Pacific Highway. A half million dollars was earmarked for a new study called the I-5 City Center Access Study. Actually, it’s really the same study the council wheeler-dealers tried to slip into the budget last fall (the 312th Exchange Study) and were caught and questioned by Councilwoman Linda Kochmar, seemingly a lone voice crying in the wilderness on behalf of we, the taxpayers. She challenged the effort, saying there had been no discussion, thereby getting it tabled.

I was at that meeting. Well, it’s baaack, and, not surprisingly, Councilman Eric Faison, with his usual surly self-importance, said just because the name changed, the scope didn’t, and now we have this funded.

Now, in the past, for the Enchanted Parkway Study, a half million dollars was allocated for a $300 million project. This council just allocated a half million dollars for a study on a $30 million project. And, on a list of all city projects –– the new municipal facility, the new community center, road projects, etc. –– this I-5 access study was suddenly moved to priority number one.

Why does that matter, you ask? Because we won’t even know if this study qualifies, regarding the required distance between freeway ramps, until after the fact (after spending the $500,000). Plus, when Kochmar –– again, apparently, the only person trying to look out for the taxpayers –– asked what the chances were for getting this project funded, the answer was slim to none.

Not only is the money earmarked for this project, an amendment was passed forbidding it’s use for anything else. Why? For fear there might be a clamor from the taxpayers to use it, in this awful economy, for more important things, like the $38,000 they couldn’t come up with for the abused women’s center, more police officers, etc.

Also, the council has the policy of not going after a project that can’t get a grant, and if I heard correctly, this one can’t. Why this desperate imperative that causes it to become priority number one? Does some entity stand to make or lose millions on the outcome of that access? Remember, for instance, the Celebration Park property was under $4 million. A year and a half later we, the taxpayers, paid almost $14 million dollars for it. Ouch!!

Taxpayers, be reminded, this is an election year. We have a chance to stop this kind of ramrodding arrogance in this, the worst economy in history. Please vote. And please consider Jim Ferrell for Position 1 on the City Council. This could be the last chance we have to break this powerful, out-of-control majority.

Clara McArthur

Federal Way

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