Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My experience and opinion of Redmond's "Neighborhood Budgeting Forum," By Paige Norman

Paige Norman
My experience and opinion of the City's  "Budgeting by Priorities"   Neighborhood Forum for Education Hill residents.

By Paige Norman
Education Hill Neighborhood

Irritated with the way our City government is run? Do you like the services and benefits our city has to offer? Let our City know!

On March 2, I attended one of the city’s “Budget By Priorities” neighborhood meetings held at Redmond City Hall, in the Bytes Café. Here’s how it works and what I think about it:  Read More >>

Enter City Hall and sign in with your information, including your email address, put on a name badge and let them know what neighborhood you’re representing for the break-out session later. A variety of brochures, media and information regarding city services, projects and programs are available. Feel free to take what you want. Easel boards in the Bytes Café have definitions for the City’s “priority-based budgeting process.” The major priorities, as defined by Focus Groups are: Infrastructure and Growth, Clean and Green Environment, Community Building, Safety, Business Community and Responsible Government.

Tables are staffed by City employees for 15 priority sub-headings. You have 45 minutes to sit down and tell staff what you’d like to see happen and why. Pick your favorites and get started!

I started at the “Community Events” table to listen and discuss the events our family has attended, what we liked and disliked about them. I’ve often wondered why the City doesn’t post a banner regarding Derby Days to announce the event and discovered that there is an ordinance preventing banners from being suspended in the City. We discussed the distance from the carnival area (Redmond Elementary) to the actual City Center where the booths and food are located; also more volunteer activities for scout troops for Eagle projects and other community service organizations should be made available. (Thanks to Rob Katz for his appeal for more Eagle Project ideas!)

I made it to three other tables: “Urban Centers”, “Redmond’s History” and “Safety”. Urban Centers was mostly discussing the Overlake improvements (Sears Center, Microsoft Main Campus and surrounds) and the future plans for green space and transportation/traffic in this area. Redmond’s History was interesting and I made suggestions for signage posted on historic buildings in town to create interest for the history buffs and visitors in our town. There are plans to develop an audio tour to work with the existing walking tour brochure, so that visitors can learn more about the history of our town. I also had a few moments to discuss with the Fire Department advertising their annual Fire Safety day at the local elementary schools for better coverage.

Mayor Marchione spoke for a few moments and showed a slide presentation regarding the history, present and future of Redmond which was a bit shocking to me -- 55,000 residents in Redmond now; projected at 77,000 in 2030? At 7:30 we were asked to separate into different neighborhood breakout discussions for the remaining hour of the evening.

Our Education Hill breakout had two City Council members, one police officer, one neighborhood contact (Sharon Stiteler) and five residents. We all lived within about 10 blocks of each other (Education Hill is a large area of the city). We spent some time introducing ourselves and then listed what our priorities are for the next 1 to 6 years. To a person, we agreed that:

• Police and Fire should be FULLY funded from the City’s general fund and NOT reliant on Bond or Levy funds. Our Public Safety is a huge concern and if we don’t have enough Police or Fire staff to take care of our residents in a timely fashion, patrol our streets and respond to calls, then we fail our citizenry.

• Traffic on 166th is impacted negatively by the huge numbers of drivers who use it to avoid the chaos on Redmond-Woodinville Road (Hwy 202) or Avondale Road. We also discussed the traffic on side-streets like 97th as people attempt to avoid speed bumps on 95th and how that negatively affects neighborhoods.

• Community / neighborhood involvement was important and that the city should make more effort to connect neighborhoods together through neighborhood watches, upkeep of streets, sidewalks, traffic circles and civic participation.

• More crosswalks on 104th (at the entrance to Horace Mann Elementary), on 166th (there is one at 100th but no more anywhere down the hill until 85th). The number of people who dash across these busy streets create a dangerous driving and pedestrian environment.

We also felt that Police Patrols and traffic safety are connected in a number of ways, as excessive speeds on 166th. And, that side roads impact neighborhoods by creating additional numbers of drivers and non-residents in our neighborhoods.

The negative of this evening was not having enough discussion on actual issues of our city. I also felt the meeting was more of a sleight of hand to involve the public, with little intention of really applying or attempting to use the ideas. I was a bit discouraged only 25 residents from four neighborhoods attended, counting only 5 from Education Hill.  Though, I know people are not only busy with other things in their lives, but skeptical (as I am) about the politics and usefulness of our City employees, Council and Mayor. I encourage you to make your ideas and opinions known to our City employees through survey, attending meetings and by contacting them directly.

There will be a 2nd meeting focusing on other neighborhoods on March 7th, 6:30 PM, although any city resident may attend (even if your neighborhood is not one of the breakouts). More information at: http://www.redmond.gov/Residents/Neighborhoods/ . You may also complete an online survey with your opinions on the budgeting priorities.

Opinion and Report By Paige Norman, F.C.
Education Hill Neighborhood

Edits for brevity

1 comment:

Brian Seitz said...

thanks for the great recap! I would have loved to go but had no idea this was going on. Every year we hear more about involving he community and hosting events like this certainly helps, but how about also focusing on the communication tactics? Something as old school as a postacard in the mailboxes of ed hill residents would have certainly bolstered attendance.