Burien Council votes to keep $200,000 grant involving greenhouse property


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By Jack Mayne

Following the repeal of the city’s controversial trespass ordinance, the Burien City Council on Monday night (Jan. 5) rejected a move to return a two year old grant of $200,000 from King County Conservation Futures that involved the potential future purchase of 10 parcels over 8 acres in northeast Burien.

The potential cost at sometime in the future of buying the property had an estimated expense of $3,160,000. Councilmember Bob Edgar wanted the money returned, but the Council voted 5 to 2 to keep the money for now.

Then Council also approved by 4 to 2 Councilmember Nancy Tosta’s move to extend the city’s interest in the project. Edgar and Krakowiak voted no, and Councilmember Pedro Olguin abstained.

Plants, seeds
Since the greenhouse grant was awarded, a long term agricultural tenant has moved onto the site and has been making investments to upgrade the agricultural features of the site. Founded by University of Washington graduates, this business tenant sells its plants and seeds throughout the state and abroad, and has been recognized as a leading innovator in reducing agricultural waste.

The city staff says the most current information suggests the tenant may be interested in pursuing purchase of the land at a future date.

Tosta said the city should keep its interest in a unique property “that many other cities would die for” but Councilmember Bob Edgar said to give the money back “so that they can be better used for a grant applicant who better meets (Conservation Futures) criteria.”

But Deputy Mayor Austin Bell said it would cost the city nothing to leave the application sitting dormant for a while and “who knows” what the potential could be in the future. “The logical thing is to ask for an extension,” Bell said, a move Tosta supported.

Human Services
City Manager Brian Wilson introduced newly hired Human Services Manager Colleen Brandt-Schluter (pictured above), who previously left a similar job with the City of SeaTac. She told the Council that she and the police pro-active team toured parts of the city and were able to “offer resources and services to folks at an active encampment as well as a number of people without stable housing here at the library which we plan to do monthly.” She said she was meeting with several community groups “looking for ways to coordinate the many good things that are happening here.”

Krause gets award again
Ade Ariwoola – past president of the Washington Finance Officers Association – presented the prestigious Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Award once again to city Finance Director Kim Krause, the 22nd year in a row that Burien and Krause has won the award. This is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a city.

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