Mayor delivers state of the city address

May 2, 2013

Newcastle Mayor Rich Crispo assured residents that the city is in relatively good shape, with people clamoring to live in the quaint community, during his 2013 State of the City address.

“We are the most popular place on the Eastside right now to live,” he said. “You look around and you find houses for sale, there aren’t many.”

The speech, given before residents and the business community at the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce’s April 10 luncheon, addressed the city’s financial health, community events and the council’s new Community Activities Commission.

The city is in good financial shape, with a balanced operating fund and a healthy reserve fund, Crispo said. Newcastle will also spend about $3 million this year on capital projects, including sidewalks and road maintenance. Read more

More than 100 attend annual town hall meeting

November 2, 2012

NEW — 10:40 a.m. Nov. 2, 2012

About 115 residents armed with electronic voting clickers responded to real-time poll questions at the annual town hall meeting held Oct. 29 at The Golf Club at Newcastle.

City Manager Rob Wyman presented information about the 2013 preliminary budget and future development in the city, while Newcastle Police Chief Melinda Irvine offered information on community safety, crime prevention and Newcastle police staffing levels.

With the electronic voting devices, residents had the opportunity to offer their feedback about the city’s performance. Read more

Redevelopment stressed in State of the City address

March 2, 2012

Newcastle Mayor Rich Crispo stressed financial responsibility and smart economic development — and redevelopment — during the city’s 2012 State of the City address.

The address, given before residents and the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce at its monthly luncheon Feb. 8 at Tapatio Mexican Grill, laid out big-picture goals for the city for the upcoming year and beyond.

The city must find a balance of opening its doors to new growth and redevelopment without losing its sense of identity, he said.

Rich Crispo

“The first thing we have to do is let people know Newcastle is open for business,” he said. “That may sound kind of trite, but when you think about the 17 years of this city and how many new buildings have been put up here in a commercial sense … you have Valley Medical Center, you have the library that is in construction right now and you have the professional building. That’s it.”

Crispo cited the City Council’s work to revamp Newcastle’s downtown business code last year as ways the city has tried to entice new developers to town.

Few major developable properties are left within city limits, he said. Instead, larger opportunities loom with a chance for redevelopment of existing properties, such as the Mutual Materials brick plant site off of Coal Creek Parkway.

Read more

Brick plant revamp is key to city’s future

March 2, 2012

Talk to anyone with a vested interest in the potential redevelopment of Newcastle’s Mutual Materials brick plant site and you’ll hear the same word time and again — opportunity.

It’s no exaggeration that as the city faces a $300,000 shortfall in 2013, and similar deficits in coming years, the redevelopment of this critical Coal Creek Parkway property may have an unprecedented impact on Newcastle for years to come.

With redevelopment comes the potential for much-needed revenue in the form of real-estate excise tax, sales tax, permitting fees, impact fees, review fees and any combination thereof.

Simply, this project matters.

It must be done efficiently, competently and in a way that benefits Newcastle. With this much at stake, it must be done right.

With a 52-acre site and a developer that has been in the community for more than 50 years and seemingly wants what’s best for the city, Newcastle arguably won’t have a chance like this again.

Read more

Mutual Materials eyes potential redevelopment

February 3, 2012

Nestled back from a short, paved driveway off of Newcastle’s Coal Creek Parkway, the now defunct Mutual Materials brick plant still looms large.

Covered awnings still protect masonry products and other materials, stacked more than 10 feet high on pallets, from the rain.

A small stream meanders by the closed chain link fence gating its entrance and a quiet has essentially blanketed the plant since it shut down its day-to-day operations last spring.

But now a different kind of work is going on here — work that might lead to redevelopment of the site that would impact the city of Newcastle for years to come, a fact not lost on Mutual Materials executives and shareholders, Mutual Materials President Joe Bowen said.

“Given the sense of pride that we’ve had about what we’ve done there, we just want to make sure whatever the result of that property is … that we’ll be able to look back at what goes in there and still have that sense of pride,” he said. “The community of Newcastle has been very, very gracious to us for years. It’s important that we give this the consideration that this community deserves.”
 

Looking back to the beginning

The day was unseasonably dry for June in Seattle.

Little rain had been recorded. Temperatures were hovering steady in the 70s.

John Back was at work heating glue over a gasoline fire at Victor Clairmont’s downtown Seattle woodworking shop the afternoon of June 6, 1889.

But as the glue boiled over and caught fire, eventually spreading and burning about 25 city blocks in the Great Seattle Fire, Back would have more of an impact on Seattle history than he could have ever known.

The next day, nearly 600 businessmen in the Seattle area came together to determine how to rebuild.

It was mandated by the mayor that the downtown business core would be rebuilt with brick.

Residents receive a grand opening tour of the Newcastle brick plant in 1959.

With only brick.

Experienced bricklayer Daniel Houlahan traveled from California to help pave the city’s roads and sidewalks — a journey that would help rebuild Seattle’s infrastructure and eventually impact the city of Newcastle for years to come.

Houlahan located a clay deposit to use for a brick plant and found an ideal site at the base of Beacon Hill and went on to found the Builders Brick Co. — Mutual Materials’ predecessor — in 1890.

After Builders Brick went on to supply much of the brick that rebuilt and continues to build Seattle, the company purchased Mutual Materials, a local distributor that opened its doors in 1959.

After expanding its operations into the marketing and distribution business, Builders Brick officially changed its name to Mutual Materials Co. in 1966.

In 2003, the plant was boasting an output of about 25 million bricks per year.

Today, Mutual Materials is the largest producer and distributor of masonry and hardscape products for household and commercial uses in the Pacific Northwest.
Read more

Diamond Awards honor community

December 1, 2011

Members of the Newcastle community who contribute time, energy and service to make the city a better place to live were recognized at the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce’s Diamond Awards on Nov. 10.

Karin Blakley, Diamond Award emcee and chamber board member, said recipients in the event’s youth, education, business, community service and mayor’s choice categories exemplify service and community pride that make Newcastle a great place to call home and do business.

Kent Coburn and Roland Deex were honored with a Diamond Award in the youth category.

Valley Medical Center representatives accept the Diamond Award for the business category. Photos by Christina Lords

Coburn has volunteered at Newcastle Days, and for Arbor Day and various Weed Warrior events since 2008. He plays in Hazen High School’s jazz band and played at Newcastle’s Earth Day event in 2011.

Deex, a Liberty High School student, is a member of the honor society and tutors students before school, and he mentors a Newcastle boy with autism each week through the Athletes for Kids buddy program. During Deex’s Eagle Scout project, he organized service projects to benefit the East May Creek Trail.

Cathy Dean, a first-grade teacher at Hazelwood Elementary School, was awarded the education award for her ability to build good relationships with students that enable them to achieve a strong educational foundation.

Valley Medical Center was honored in the business category. The medical center was recognized for stepping up during tough economic times to become the main sponsor of Newcastle Days.

Read more

Diamond Awards recognize businesses, residents who serve Newcastle community

November 10, 2011

NEW — 3:50 p.m. Nov. 10, 2011

Members of the Newcastle community who contribute time, energy and service to make the city a better place to live were recognized at the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce’s Diamond Awards on Nov. 10.

Karin Blakley, Diamond Award emcee and chamber board member, said recipients in the event’s youth, education, business, community service and the mayor’s choice categories exemplify service and community pride that make Newcastle a great place to call home and do business.

Kent Coburn and Roland Deex were honored with a Diamond Award in the youth category.

Read more