June 6, 2013
Push forward to find solutions to fireworks, volunteer problems
In reading the recent article recounting the City Council meeting, which included discussion on future Fourth of July celebrations at Lake Boren, I seriously question Mayor Crispo’s ability to find creative solutions to issues facing our city.
My family attended last year’s event for the first time, and we were pleased to find it a warm and inviting atmosphere. Crispo’s perception that the event was too crowded with inadequate police presence couldn’t have been further from our experience. At no point did I feel my family’s safety was in question. I’m curious to know how many reports were received by the police department regarding concerns about safety at the event.
Addressing the concern with restroom access — there are many companies that provide portable toilets for such events, which easily mitigates that concern. Problem solved.
May 2, 2013
Save Lake Boren
Or not — it’s up to you, the Newcastle city residents.
Lake Boren is filling up and is in jeopardy of no longer being a lake. Just before the turn of the century, the depth of Lake Boren was 90 feet. In the late ‘70s, it was measured at 43 feet. A couple of years ago, it was 34 feet.
The lake bottom consists of nearly a 100 percent silt and mud. The debris enters the lake during high water runoff periods. Storm waters result in the lakes surface water level to fluctuate up to, and at times, over 4 feet. This is also very damaging to the health of the lake. It allows banks to erode, trees and other debris to fall in, and drain field affluent, fertilizers and animal feces to migrate into the lake. Read more
April 4, 2013
City councilman wants city to be left in good hands
“You got to know when to hold ‘em … know when to walk away.”
I believe that two terms is enough for any council member. Therefore, after eight years on the City Council, I will not file for re-election this spring.
February 28, 2013
Dear friends and families:
For many years, the need for preserving the history and memorabilia of Newcastle has been felt. At last, a small group is reorganizing its historical society in the hopes of restoring interest in this city’s coal mining heritage of more than 100 years. So much has already been lost with the passing of our pioneers.
In order to begin serious work on our project visions, it is necessary to have funds. We have plans for establishing a website where we can share the history of Newcastle, and a newsletter to share stories and events. We would also like to have some small exhibits within the community for each of you to enjoy. We invite your interest, your stories and ancestral ties to this important former coal mining town.
February 28, 2013
It’s never too late to follow your dreams
This month’s issue featured two people who stand as prime examples of the old adage that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.
Newcastle musician Italene Gaddis and artist Dan Meredith lived full lives before they even began pursuing their passions.
Gaddis was a homemaker and the primary breadwinner once her husband passed away, while Meredith toiled as a carpenter for several years.
December 6, 2012
Discuss annexation now
First annexation by Bellevue is a distraction and now it is “premature” to discuss annexation. And next it will be too late.
Given the previous reports about budget issues, when will it not be premature to investigate the option? At some point, it will be moot because nobody is going to absorb excessive debt.
We can only afford to have one police officer on duty at times, per previous articles, and it is not time to start looking at all options?
November 1, 2012
Joining Bellevue is a good idea
Please let it be known as a resident of Newcastle, the facts remain that this city cannot survive unless it raises taxes on the people of Newcastle. I cannot and will not support this!
The people who want to stay the city of Newcastle should give their own money to the city. I do not agree that Newcastle needs its own chief of police! We do not have a fire chief.
In these hard times, joining the city of Bellevue would be the best for all; we already have their fire department services, which have been great.
Newcastle Read more
October 4, 2012
To merge or not to merge, that is the question
Last month, the City Council discussed potential consolidation with Bellevue. Why now, after 18 years as a city? Simply put, the math has changed, threatening Newcastle’s long-term survival as a standalone city.
I’ll state my bias upfront: My city should have reasonable taxes, good services and facilities, and resources to fund future capital projects. On these criteria, Newcastle’s future compares very unfavorably with Bellevue’s.
The problem: In Washington state, cities are financed primarily with property and sales taxes. Without either a large commercial tax base generating property and retail sales taxes, or exclusively high-end housing, it is very difficult for a small city to prosper over the long term.
Newcastle’s predicament is not recently discovered. From the city’s inception, knowledgeable observers have warned that once the city exhausted its developable land base and the large city fees associated with development, infrastructure maintenance and personnel costs would rapidly outpace the revenue tax base.
With most of our land base now under development or developed, we have reached the tipping point. Beyond 2013, we face substantial deficits in our general and capital funds that will result in service reductions and eliminate any major new capital projects. Newcastle faces a real risk of becoming a high-tax, low-services city, with negative consequences for our housing prices. Alarmingly, after 2013, the city manager is already proposing that we defer $2.4 million in necessary road maintenance to cover future capital shortfalls.
Given Newcastle’s financial prospects, why would Bellevue consider a consolidation?
The answer: Economies of scale make the math work. Bellevue already provides Newcastle with fire and emergency services, and could easily consolidate the remaining governmental functions at a much lower cost. Under Bellevue’s jurisdiction, Newcastle would maintain its neighborhood character and events, much like Newport Hills does.
Because the situation doesn’t become critical until 2014, the City Council majority believes further public discussion of the issue is not now warranted. I disagree. For a city trying to plan ahead, all options should now be explored and considered. Your voices deserved to be heard and made a part of the decision process.
Let the debate begin.
Newcastle City Council
September 6, 2012
Serious traffic problem
Why was city not directing traffic?
I am writing to express my extreme anger at the way the city of Newcastle failed to handle the traffic situation Aug. 16 at the corner of Newcastle Way and Coal Creek Parkway. Traffic was backed up from Interstate 405 all the way up Coal Creek Parkway to the intersection.
A drive that usually takes me 10-12 minutes took more than an hour between 5 and 6:30 p.m. Once arriving at the intersection, I was appalled to discover that the traffic light was out and there was no police presence directing traffic. Instead, drivers were (correctly) treating the intersection like a four-way stop.
Since the huge majority of the traffic at that time of day is travelling south on Coal Creek parkway, this was inefficient and frankly dangerous. As I approached the intersection, an elderly pedestrian was trying to cross Coal Creek Parkway to little avail, until one driver got out of his car and briefly directed traffic himself to ensure the person could cross safely.
Upon my arrival home, I was further appalled to hear from other members of my household that the traffic light had been out since at least 3:30 p.m. I understand from yet another member of my household who was stuck in traffic behind me that the light was not working until after 7 p.m.
When I crossed the intersection at 6:30, there was one employee at the traffic control box on the southeast corner of the intersection working to fix the problem. I am angry that the city failed to provide traffic policing at the intersection, particularly during rush hour at a major intersection of our city, particularly when the situation was easily apparent from the late afternoon. I eagerly await an official explanation from our city officials for their lack of action.
August 2, 2012
Library’s progress is taking too long
I find it mindboggling that skyscrapers can be erected in less time than it is taking for the Newcastle Library. The contractor should have been fired long ago, and the fact that the contractor has not been replaced shows the library system’s management is at best ill-suited or at worst, incompetent.
Replace both and the library would probably be completed in a few weeks, not months.
How much tax money has been wasted on this project?