By Jack Mayne

Port officials are making the rounds of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport neighbor cities to tell them there is a $750,000 fund to finance ideas to better manage changes coming from an enlarging airport.

The Burien City Council was also told at its regular meeting Monday night (July 15) that city staff has so far been unable to find a spot large enough for an expanding micro-business Mercado sought by up to 200 vendors forced from its current spot.

Airport on environment
The Port of Seattle’s “environmental engagement manager” Andy Gregory (pictured, left) told Council that the South King County Fund, created in November 2018 by the Seattle Port Commission, has a first year grant of $750,000 to give airport communities resources and support problems of the growth and changes of the airport. The Port says a maximum of $10 million will be available over five years, ending in 2023 for Burien and the other cities adjacent to the airport.

Gregory’s appearance is part of a road show introduction of the limited money to assist cities dealing with problems being adjacent to Sea-Tac Airport.

The Port says the funds “will prioritize community input to inform Port decision making: Recognizes the importance of community participation and the Port governance role.”

The fund also will give “underrepresented communities access to opportunities, and use equity policies to evaluate potential initiatives and establish desired outcomes.”

Port officials reminded Burien that the Port is a “limited purpose government,” that there are legal limits to how it can spend public money and that it is “developing project selection criteria based on these limits.” In other words, it will make final decisions on what the money is used for.

Some of the money in a “second phase” of the fund will be spent to hire a “community engagement consultant” to do “equity engagement with many underrepresented communities around the airport.” Gregory said additional opportunities to provide suggestions for projects and other ideas will be available over the new few months.

No site for mercado
Perhaps some of that development potential could be to assist a large micro business market, said city Councilmember Lucy Krakowiak.

Economic Development Director Chris Craig (pictured, above) said the city is looking for a potential site for a mercado public market site, as many vendors asked the city to assist finding and developing during a recent Council session. Craig said the city has interest from vendors who used to be on a 13 acre site in Lakewood, who need a large space to keep the 200 vendors together.

The city found no suitable site, Craig said.

“Burien has very little in large, undeveloped parcels of land,” he said, adding there were several developers looking for similar parcels. He said the city looked at several options for accommodating a mercado, including in a city park where the impact on the surrounding residents would virtually exclude the area residents from the park and create parking problems.

“The city does not own a site large enough to be reliable for market of this size, currently,” Craig said. The city did check with the Port of Seattle about the Lora Lakes site but it is under environmental remediation and the Port did not recommend the site as a suitable place.

Mayor Jimmy Matta said the city should keep looking and even pressure the county government to help.

“We have enough property for other projects we have, we need to think about what we are going to do about micro enterprises,” he said, noting displacements from Seattle and other parts of the region. “I would say that we don’t give up on this and continue to figure it out.”

“The Port has quite a bit of property,” Matta said. “The Port has been displacing not only small businesses but creating quite a bit of havoc in our communities. They need to step up and be good partners. I do believe we have to stop being nice and … push our county executive and airport (to) help us find a location.”

Krakowiak said “it takes creativity to survive as a business owner,” and was pleased the mercado merchants looked to Burien for a new location. She encouraged the merchants to keep working together and with Burien until some way forward is found.

4th, fireworks, death
Burien Police Captain Jessica Sullivan (pictured, above) told Council the city had 208 calls for service over July 4th through the morning of the 5th, with 41 calls either for life safety or potentially property damaging events. She said the city received 85 fireworks calls from citizens, and issued 13 warnings. One citation was issued for a matter that took place “right in front of the officer.”

There were no reports of injury or damage — “usually we lose just a couple of mailboxes to sparkler bombs — that was not the case this year,” Sullivan said. She said the average response time was 15 minutes but was two hours after 11 p.m. Officers handled about 25 calls during the day, “extraordinarily high” and most officers were on mandatory overtime.

One person died in a house fire and Sullivan said at 11:39 p.m. officers responded to a drive-by shooting at 10th Ave South, and at 12:45 a.m. to a shooting in White Center.

The victim of Thursday night’s fatal two-house fire was Roland Kennedy, 70, whose death was attributed to “toxic asphyxia due to smoke inhalation.” As The B-Town Blog previously reported, Kennedy was killed when he was trapped in a house in the 10200 block of 10th Ave S.

Burien Fire Chief Mike Marrs (pictured, right) said there were seven fire related calls on the 4th, but only two were in the City of Burien. They also issued “between 10 and 15 warnings” along with participating in the Burien and Normandy Park parades as the department serves both cities and incorporated areas.

City Clerk changes
The Council voted to consolidate the Burien City Clerk position with the Public Records Officer into a City Clerk and Assistant City Clerk position. Longtime City Clerk Monica Lusk is on the brink of her retirement, said administrative services director Cathy Schrock, who hopes to have a new city clerk in place by September.

The updated positions “will perform a variety of professional and supervisory work developing, implementing and overseeing the services, programs and activities of the office, including serving as the statutory clerk of the City Council, the official custodian of records, and records management.”

The change from public records officer to Deputy City Clerk, provides for efficient cure for built-in redundancies, Schrock said.

Senior Reporter Jack Mayne passed away in December, 2021. In his honor we have created the Jack Mayne Journalism Scholarship.