Energize Eastside, traffic calming, dominate town hall

July 2, 2015

Speed bumps and power lines were the hot topics of conversation at the city of Newcastle’s annual town hall meeting June 16.

By Christina Corrales-Toy Deputy Mayor John Drescher (right) answers an audience question, as City Councilman Rich Crispo listens beside him.

By Christina Corrales-Toy
Deputy Mayor John Drescher (right) answers an audience question, as City Councilman Rich Crispo listens beside him.

During the meeting’s second hour, the Newcastle City Council fielded audience questions, with a sizable group of neighbors from in and around Southeast 75th Street using the time to express concerns about speeding on the street. Read more

2014 was a year of change for Newcastle

January 2, 2015

In 2014, the city of Newcastle celebrated a birthday, lost an icon and set the stage for the future. Here are some of the top stories of the year, in no particular order:

Newcastle pioneer Milt Swanson passes away

Family, neighbors and community leaders gathered Jan. 25 to honor the life of Milt Swanson, a titan of Newcastle history and a man with an unceasing, warming smile.

The Newcastle pioneer, born and raised in this community, spent all of his 95 years in the same area, 90 of which were in the same company house that still stands at the edge of town near the Cougar Mountain trailhead. Read more

CCUD building purchase questioned

January 2, 2015

A Newcastle City Council-approved agreement to purchase a building for equipment and vehicle storage is raising questions, after the city offered up more than money to acquire it.

In September, the council authorized City Manager Rob Wyman to enter into a purchase-sale agreement for the Coal Creek Utility District-owned property on 129th Avenue Southeast.

In exchange for the property appraised at $750,000, the city would agree to pay $250,000 and forfeit its legal right to assume the utility district for 10 years.

It’s the non-assumption clause, in particular, that has some current, and one former, council members questioning the logic of the agreement. Read more

City looks to add youth voice

October 3, 2014

Newcastle teen leads charge to get peers involved in city government

The Newcastle City Council explored the possibility of adding a youth voice to its government structure at its Sept. 16 regular meeting.

The discussion comes after Newcastle teen James Ricks approached Mayor Steve Buri about the feasibility of creating a youth advisory board to the council.

“I want youth to care about Newcastle,” Ricks said. “Whether that’s evident in service projects, involvement in planning activities or tutoring, I want youth to be involved because they care about the city they live in.” Read more

Council passes marijuana moratorium

July 31, 2014

Newcastle residents won’t find a marijuana retail establishment in the city anytime soon.

The Newcastle City Council approved a six-month moratorium on marijuana-related business activity within Newcastle, at its July 1 meeting.

“A moratorium is simply a procedural mechanism this council can adopt to literally hold the status quo as is, meaning, it gives you six months to review something,” city attorney Dawn Reitan told council members. “Nothing comes in while that happens.”

Councilman Gordon Bisset made the motion instituting the moratorium. It passed 4-3, with council members Lisa Jensen, Carol Simpson and Rich Crispo dissenting. Read more

Council to consider marijuana freeze

June 5, 2014

The Newcastle City Council directed city staff to prepare an ordinance placing a moratorium on marijuana-related business in the city at its May 6 meeting.

It mirrors the actions of neighboring cities Issaquah and Renton, both of which have moratoriums on marijuana business practices. Councilman Gordon Bisset made the motion, which passed 4-3.

The direction came after a failed attempt to pursue a ban on marijuana businesses in the city, but that motion, made by Deputy Mayor John Drescher, was shot down 5-2.

City staff considers the potential for any marijuana-related business activity in Newcastle very low due to state Liquor Control Board rules on where marijuana facilities can set up shop. Also, the state’s marijuana retail license lottery came and went without any impacts on Newcastle.

The City Council was set to review the ordinance May 20, but decided to table it for a to-be-determined date. The council last considered a moratorium at its Dec. 17 meeting, but that motion failed.

Newcastle City Council roundup — April 15

April 16, 2014

NEW — 2:55 p.m. April 16, 2014

The Newcastle City Council held its last meeting of the month April 15. Here is the Cliffs Notes version of what happened at City Hall. View the full meeting agenda online here.

Impact fees

Prior to the regular meeting, council members reviewed an analysis of the city’s traffic and parks impact fee rates.

Impact fees are a comprehensive grouping of charges based on new development within a local municipality. These fees are assessed to pay for capital facility improvement projects necessitated by new development. Read more

City crime was down in 2013

April 3, 2014

Newcastle crime was down in 2013, a welcome bit of news for a city that saw only increasing statistics in 2012.

In 2013, the city had 252 Part I crimes, compared to 323 in 2012. Part I crimes include criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

Other than robbery, all of the other Part I crime categories dropped in 2013, Newcastle Police Chief Melinda Irvine said in a March 4 presentation to the City Council.

Read more

City manager receives $10,000 raise

April 3, 2014

After evaluating City Manager Rob Wyman’s performance in several closed executive sessions, the Newcastle City Council approved a $10,000 raise for the position at its March 18 meeting.

The raise, retroactive to Jan. 1, increases Wyman’s annual salary from $120,000 to $130,000. The council also granted Wyman two days of merit leave, the same as last year.

Wyman was hired as interim city manager in January 2010, and the council selected him as the permanent city manager that August. This is the third consecutive year that the council awarded him a raise, and it’s his highest yet. He received a $6,000 raise in 2012 and a $4,000 raise in 2013.

Rob Wyman

Rob Wyman

Read more

City Council axes temporary commission liaison

April 3, 2014

Despite pleas from Community Activities commissioners, the advisory board no longer has a council member liaison after the Newcastle City Council decided against renewing the position at its March 18 meeting.

The council voted down a motion, 4-3, seeking to extend the liaison through the end of the year.

A council liaison was appointed last year to help the volunteer board as it transitioned from the Parks Commission to the Community Activities Commission.

Councilman Rich Crispo, who led the changes to the commission, was chosen to serve as the liaison. The council representative acted as a nonvoting member of the advisory board; the position was set to expire at the end of March.

Read more

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