Mayor touts ‘small-town feel’ of city

March 5, 2014

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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The Newcastle mayor made his annual visit to the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce luncheon, and for the first time, it was newly elected Mayor Steve Buri who spoke to the audience of residents and local business leaders Feb. 12.

In an approximately 20-minute address, Buri talked about his love of Newcastle’s sense of community, and he updated citizens about improvements to Lake Boren Park, development of the Mutual Materials site and a potential new project to expand the May Creek Trail.

Buri, who assumed the mayor’s role in January, introduced himself before discussing city matters. He moved to Newcastle in 1998, he said, where he and his wife quickly fell in love with the city.

“Part of what I love about the city of Newcastle, which was alluded to earlier, is the sense of community, and part of that comes from the fact that it’s really a small town,” he said. “I don’t go to the store or any of the businesses without seeing someone I know.”

Buri then delved head first into talk about plans for improvements to Lake Boren Park. The park, which he described as the “crown jewel of Newcastle,” is a priority for the city, he said.

Residents got a first look at an initial vision for the park at the town hall meeting in October. Suggested upgrades included a larger, covered stage, a kid’s spray zone, widening and improving the beach area, shoreline boardwalks and the creation of a central meadow.

During the October meeting, the city used polling devices to get feedback on the project, and 77 percent of respondents said they agreed that improvements to Lake Boren Park would benefit the community.

The City Council recently authorized city staff to explore the purchase of properties at the south end of the lake that would help alleviate flooding concerns near lakeshore properties and essentially expand Lake Boren Park.

“We’re really at the beginning stages of getting your input on what you’d like to see happen there,” Buri said. “Whatever we do will involve a lot of public input.”

Buri also talked about a potential project to expand the May Creek Trail, including the installation of a suspension bridge.

One of the most exciting aspects of the project, City Manager Rob Wyman noted, was that the extension would allow Newcastle residents to walk directly to Seahawks practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

“Really, it would be an amazing enhancement, with a pedestrian bridge over a beautiful stretch of May Creek,” Buri said.

The project would include the bridge, trail extensions and a trailhead parking lot along Southeast May Creek Park Drive.

The city has submitted a state capital budget request through the office of state Rep. Tana Senn to fund the project.

“We’re pursuing it down in Olympia, and I think the prospects are good without promising it,” Buri said of the city’s chances to receive the funding.

It could be a particularly attractive project to state leaders, Buri said, because it would serve as a key link in the Mountains to Sound Greenway connection.

The Mountains to Sound Greenway is a connected landscape of natural lands and communities along Interstate 90 between Seattle and Central Washington. It features a regional trail network used by pedestrians and bicyclists.

If the city gets the $1.4 million it’s asking for from the state, it will obviously move forward with the project, Buri said. If it doesn’t, the project is something the city would still like to pursue in the future, when funding is available.


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