[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The B-Town Blog, nor its staff:]
Secrecy and deception discourage budget solutions. When the city makes what seem to be arbitrary decisions and a citizen questions it, transparency is nonexistent. Here are two examples:
I sent the following email to the Public Works Director over a year ago:
From: Lee Moyer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Mon, May 20, 2019 9:41 pm
Subject: Eagle Landing Pipeline mitigation
I realize it was with good intentions that the council stipulated that the stormwater that is to be piped directly into Puget Sound thru Eagle Landing Park is to be treated. It is also good that the treatment is biofiltration. The proposed design is probably the best that can be done when ordered to treat this pipe at this location. This design calls for two underground modular wetland treatment vaults to be installed in the road right of way just above the park for $200,000.00. This is to treat the stormwater that now flows thru one 12-inch pipe. This is far from an effective expenditure of city money for stormwater treatment.
I think any rational discussion of mitigation options would show that drainage into Miller Creek should be a higher priority than Puget Sound and that by using better locations much more stormwater could be treated for the same amount of money. If given a choice, I’m sure the engineers could spend $200k at another location or locations much more effectively to mitigate the mandated pipeline.
Do you think the proposed plan is the best way to spend $200K for mitigation of the Eagle Landing pipeline?
After a long delay and intermediate emails this is the final answer:
From: Maiya Andrews <email@example.com>
To: Lee Moyer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Brian Wilson <BrianW@burienwa.gov>; Carolyn Hope <CarolynH@burienwa.gov>
Sent: Mon, Jun 29, 2020 3:48 pm
Subject: FW: CTTC – Fwd: Eagle Landing Pipeline mitigation
Hello Mr. Moyer,
Parks Director Hope recently emailed you and confirmed that we are following the direction of the Council through the City Manager. This project is moving forward as presented to Council and includes the water quality improvements as described.
Maiya I. Andrews
Director of Public Works
City of Burien
(206) 248-5521 office
(206) 641-5118 cell
Although there was time to do so, no one wanted to consider possibly better alternatives. It seems that political expediency is more important than fiscal responsibility. The city council seems to agree since it did not respond either. It is interesting to note that I cc’d the council with my question, but the answer from the city was not shared with the council.
Another example is the Annex issue. The City Manager seems to be in a rush to tear it down. Is that rush to stop the outcry about how the lease terminations were handled? Why not have another month or two of actual discussion? It is estimated to be about three years before the land will be used again.
Instead the Parks Board held a special meeting and discussed two simplistic options: Board it up or tear it down. They did not consider alternate usage of the Annex such as storage, a central headquarters and equipment storage area for the Parks Dept. maintenance operation, or any other use that would not involve the public.
Tear it down meant remove the building, foundation, utilities etc. and grade and restore the area with lawn. The preliminary estimate was $350K (now $400k) based on one contractor’s estimate. Board it up meant secure the building (estimated cost of $15K) with reduced utilities, maintenance, etc. and let it sit for three years. The preliminary estimate was $500K for the three years. When I asked where the estimate came from, I was told it was from an interdepartmental meeting. (O K gang, what number will make the teardown the obvious choice?)
The above costs came from the Parks Director, who also pointed out that there was no money to fix up the building since it only took in a little over $70k in rent in the last year and it cost $68k to keep the building open. Huh!
Evidently no one cares about reading the numbers. Per the Parks Director, keeping the building open for three years would cost $208K. Boarding it up and reducing the services would cost almost two and a half times as much ($500k). That is absurd. I pointed this out to the Parks Board but, without question, they did as the City Manager wanted and recommended the tear town with a rushed deadline. (I could not participate in the meeting because the City Manager’s process of removing me from the board was underway). I also told this to the City Council but received no response. The City Council also followed the City Manager’s wish for a fast teardown.
So, we the taxpayers will pay the cost of a city management that prefers political expediency over fiscal efficiency and secrecy over transparency.
– Lee Moyer
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