Tuesday night (Jan. 6th), the City of Burien held their third public “Open House” meeting to discuss the progress of the Projected Annexation Project at Shorewood Elementary School.
Residents of the affected neighborhoods turned out to express their concerns about various issues, including the potential change in coverage of fire and police services, surface maintenance and budget for the entire project.
“The most important thing is continuous and consistent safety services.” said Burien Councilmember Rose Clark.
King County Fire District 2 serves the Burien/Normandy Park areas, and the North Highline Fire Department covers the White Center and Burien neighborhoods. Burien City Manager Mike Martin and Fire Chief Mike Marrs assured the residents of a “seamless transition” in regard to fire services. Should Seattle annex the North Highline Station, Burien would continue to be covered until 2012 when a new station would be built and available. The details and location are still being addressed for a potential new fire station; residents were assured that public safety is at the forefront of every decision.
North Highline currently contracts police services through the King County Sheriff’s Office. The only change community members can look for will be the same familiar faces of officers in new Burien uniforms and police vehicles.
Response times for both fire and police will be equal to the current service levels, if not better, according to Mike Martin.
The roads and maintenance departments may very well see a facelift in the annexed area of Burien as smaller cities have a faster turnaround time and “Ã¢â‚¬Â¦higher standardsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦” said Martin. When accessing the neighborhood’s current budget need for improvement the City of Seattle assessed the area as a $13 million dollar project where as the City of Burien assessed the same area as a $59 million dollar project.
Shorewood resident Cindy Traynor said “I am glad they are finally doing something. We moved to the area so that we would not be a part of Seattle, the taxes are much higher there.”
“We want to be a part of Burien.” said resident Shirley Leonard.
The worries about budget strains on the City of Burien for taking on an additional 14,350 new community members were put to rest by an independent review firm out of Portland. They found that the projected revenue from the annexed area would offset the cost of the City for the project.
Residents can expect to see two historically-linked communities reunited should the annexation pass. They will have direct access to their local government and officials by being part of a “smaller city.”
“Becoming part of Burien, your voice will be heard and have more power.” Said City official Karen Keane.
The final decision on the proposed annexation areas will be brought to the voters to residents to decide in a vote in the Summer/Fall of 2009.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: We’d like to welcome aboard Gina Bourdage, our newest Writer, who makes her B-Town Blog debut with this article. Gina is a Communications graduate from WSU, and is a longtime area resident who lives right on the cusp of the proposed annexation area. Look for more of her work here soon…and welcome Gina!]