State of the City of Issaquah
Let me begin this year’s State of the City address with a welcome to our residents, businesses, and all our friends. The Year 2004 marks a new beginning, and a year in which we build on our prior accomplishments and rich history.
Issaquah is a City known for its Guiding Principles:
1. Environmental excellence;
2. Innovative and Integrated Planning
3. Community Involvement
4. A People Place
5. A Balanced Community
6. Excellence in Governmental Services
Each of these Principles has a history, a meaning, and a solid foundation in our community.
In addition to these Principles, Issaquah always has been a leader on the issues and projects that make a difference to our community now and in the future. Over the years, we have made a lasting commitment to the environment, to tackling our top priorities and to delivering high quality services. We have aimed high and we have met the mark.
To date, these achievements have included key community issues: traffic, water quality and flooding issues. Each of us knows that flooding has been a serious issue here (Flood of 1991 and 1996). We developed solutions to the problem and with strong leadership have maintained focus on flood reduction, water quality, and habitat improvement.
Equally important and valuable has been this administration’s steady focus on the environment, including the Tibbetts Greenway, Pickering Reach on Issaquah Creek, sustainability beginning with partnerships with King County for neighborhood sustainable life styles, the recycling program, Stream Stewardship, and with more projects ahead.
The third area in which we have had success is our traffic issues, both large and small. As with all issues we have listed, there is more to be done, but we are on the right course. One of these achievements we accomplished this past Fall was the opening of the Sunset Interchange and the Sammamish Plateau Access Road (SPAR), which resulted in noticeable traffic improvements. This very significant project was the result of regional agreements reached over 8 years ago. The City of Issaquah was a partner and we played a central role in this achievement.
In 2004 we are going to be making further progress in these critical, and other important, areas:
We will be working on: the I-90 Undercrossing; the East Lake Sammamish/SE 56th Street intersection; for the environment, the Squak Valley Park/Issaquah Creek restoration (a joint City and Army Corps of Engineers project); more park facilities (Central Park, among others); and a greater effort on communications with our residents and businesses.
The central question to us (this Council) and to Issaquah as a whole, is: As we move forward, are our City’s Guiding Principles and Vision reflective of what we are doing today (who we are) and are they relevant for the future?
Before I close, I want to speak to a few areas that rarely get headlines and to acknowledge the many people who work for the people of Issaquah.
First, our City Services that day-in, day-out, are performed by the best employees around! We often receive compliments on a job well done…..whether it’s in public safety, park programs, stream restoration, our planning and building services, in recreation, our children’s and special populations programs; in Concerts on the Green; engineering and transportation planning; flood reduction projects; maintenance of our streets and utilities; and of course, our renowned landscaping and its maintenance, among many other important services. Our ratings are high due to a dedicated staff that makes a difference, often receiving awards and recognition from peers and professional associations.
Second, we deliver these services, all within a balanced budget. This Administration balanced the budget in 2002 and 2003, both tough years (and will likewise do so in 2004). Our Fiscal house is in good order and we maintain our high credit rating. Our fund balance (bank account) is better than ever. All of this thanks to our dedicated staff, skilled managers and this Administration’s clear focus on fiscal management.
The City of Issaquah is thoroughly committed to preservation and enhancement of our human and natural resources. We can look at all the issues we face and understand them as challenges, setting a firm, and positive direction, addressing them over time, or we can see them as insurmountable problems or perceived failures and get bogged down in “the glass is half empty” syndrome. Leadership demands more of us all.
Earlier I raised the question of whether our Guiding Principles are still relevant. I believe these principles, which have given us purpose and direction in the past, are central to our future. This is where and how our principles shape us: to guide the community, the Administration and the Council in dealing with current issues and the challenges we have yet to face.
Issaquah is at a juncture in its history: How do we move forward; what do we want to look like and be 10 years from now? These principles represent a balanced approach, responsive to all our citizens, reflective of our values. They indeed represent what has made Issaquah a special place in the past, a special place today, and will continue to keep it so in the future.
Our community has a solid foundation and a vital future that is unfolding. Our Vision is alive and well! And I look forward to working with the Council and the community in making 2004 a great year…..a year in which we look ahead to continued improvements.