City honors volunteers

January 8, 2013

NEW — 5:05 p.m. Jan. 8, 2013

After a year packed full with successful community events and valuable projects enhancing the neighborhood, the city is honoring all the volunteers who made them happen with a Jan. 30 celebration.

Whether you worked on several events throughout the year, or donated just a few hours, the city wants its volunteers to know that the community wouldn’t be the same without them.

The appreciation event, at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, is expected to be filled with treats, fun and a special gift.

In particular, the city thanks the Newcastle Weed Warriors, Newcastle Trails, the  Greater Newcastle Chamber of Commerce and the Public Works Department for their work throughout the year.

Contact Michael Holly at michaelh@ci.newcastle.wa.us or 649-4444, ext. 142, to RSVP for the event by Jan. 25.

City Council OKs traffic calming process

July 3, 2012

The Newcastle Public Works Department now has a new step-by-step process to uniformly address resident concerns when it comes to cars speeding down neighborhood streets or blowing past stop signs.

The Newcastle City Council adopted a “traffic-calming” resolution at its June 19 meeting outlining seven steps the department can take when faced with requests for improvements like speed humps, signage, sidewalks and other options.

In the resolution, residents can begin the process by completing a request for action form, which will be reviewed by the department.

Public Works Director Mark Rigos said that while many residents request large-scale changes like speed humps, other traffic-calming options might be more appropriate and cost effective.

“It’s important to know that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all solution’ to address traffic calming,” Rigos said.

The City Council has been faced in the past few weeks with several residents asking for speed humps in Newcastle neighborhoods, and Rigos said it isn’t uncommon for residents to contact his department about perceived issues, either.

By having a resolution in place, residents have a specified place to start their inquiries and city staff has a designated approach to dealing with requests for action, Deputy Mayor Lisa Jensen said.

The resolution also offers some flexibility to handle unique situations and varying road and neighborhood conditions, Rigos said. Not all steps need to be taken if they’re not applicable to a neighborhood, street or situation.

After a site investigation takes place (if deemed necessary) by staff, the city’s public works director will implement a response based on one or more of nine possible solutions.

The solutions are taking no action, limb or tree removal, neighborhood education via a community meeting or letter, additional police presence, speed studies, street sign installation or revisions, painting street markings, hiring a traffic engineer specialist or constructing physical improvements.

Councilwoman Carol Simpson encouraged residents talking to fellow residents to curb traffic issues in neighborhoods.

“I especially like the idea of meeting with the neighbors and working together so we all slow down,” she said. “We’re all guilty of going too fast through the neighborhoods.”

Physical improvements could mean sidewalks, speed humps, bike lanes, ADA ramps or traffic chicanes.

The resolution states large projects more than $3,000 would be considered on a project-by-project basis, depend on budgetary factors, and require approval of the city manager.

“Cost is a big factor, especially when we’re looking at putting sidewalks in neighborhoods where the topography is steep on one side and steep on the other side,” Rigos said. “It’s going to cost a lot more to do traffic calming and sidewalks in that neighborhood … so that’s something we have to consider at the Public Works Department for each potential project.”

On the Web

A request for action form is available online at the city’s website at www.ci.newcastle.wa.us/rfa_form.htm.

 

Improvements coming to to Olympus stormwater pond

June 18, 2012

NEW — 2:15 p.m. June 18, 2012

A project to update the Olympus stormwater detention pond at S.E. 84th Way will retrofit the existing facility to the 2009 King County Surface Water Design Manual standards to improve the pond’s ability in providing runoff treatment and detention prior to discharge into Boren Creek.

The project is adjacent to Lake Boren Park.

The detention pond will be excavated and divided into two cells and two catch basins. A stormwater 24- inch diameter inlet pipe will be installed.

The existing outlet pipe will be also be improved. This project was awarded funding through the Washington State Department of Ecology’s competitive grant process.

Read more

City takes on water issues with action plan

May 31, 2012

Maintenance of stormwater facilities desperately lacking, report finds

After the Newcastle City Council charged Public Works Director Mark Rigos with the task of creating a comprehensive action plan for the city’s stormwater facilities and maintenance last fall, he discovered three things to report this spring — the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

The city has fallen behind on myriad aspects of stormwater-related facilities and upkeep, and an aggressive, but adequate, action plan must be put into place to increase maintenance and coordinate inspection records, Rigos told the council at a May 1 study session.

The proposed surface water action plan was based on five studies financed by the city in 2001, 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2010.

“There’s quite a bit of information there, but not all if it is getting done in the field,” Rigos said.

Before the work, the city was unsure of who owned which facilities, including storm drainage detention ponds, and as of this year, there are now four to five times more flow control and water treatment systems to maintain than when Newcastle became incorporated in 1994.

Read more

Newcastle crews kept busy during storm

January 26, 2012

Coal Creek Utility District, Newcastle Public Works Department worked to maintain vital services despite snow, ice and power outages

NEW — 3:10 p.m., Jan. 26, 2012

While most Newcastle residents endured the brunt of January’s snow, wind, ice and consequential debris from the comfort of their own homes, five members of the Newcastle Public Works maintenance crew weren’t so lucky.

Despite 16-hour shifts, equipment malfunctions and no covered space to put chains on vehicles, Public Works Director Mark Rigos said the city staff “did an exceptional job under the circumstances.”

“We have a very small staff here,” he said. “They put in so many hours during this storm. Some had to sleep in City Hall … one of our guys didn’t go home for five or six days.”

Read more

Public works plowing priority 1, 2 streets

January 18, 2012

NEW — 9:15 a.m. Jan. 18, 2012

As state transportation officials urge residents to use caution or stay off roads entirely today as snow coated local arteries, the city of Newcastle will have limited staffing today.

The Public Works Department is working to plow priority 1 and priority 2 streets today.

To view the city’s snow and ice priority route map, go to http://www.ci.newcastle.wa.us/documents/SnowIce_8.5×112011.pdf.

Waste Management will not service any routes today in Newcastle. It will collect up to twice your regular amount of recycling, garbage and food and yard waste on your next regular service day.

Weather conditions left roads treacherous, and the state Department of Transportation reminded motorists to prepare for hazardous conditions on interstate highways and secondary roads, and possible impassible conditions on outlying roadways.

The agency also encouraged people to avoid driving if possible.

Read more

City to honor volunteers at event

January 6, 2012

The city of Newcastle will recognize people who have donated their time and service in various projects and events over the past year at a volunteer appreciation event at 6 p.m. Jan. 25 in the City Hall Council Chambers.

Those recognized will include Grace Stiller for her work to coordinate Newcastle Days; Angela Wingate for her work to garner support from local businesses for Newcastle Days; and the city’s Public Works Department for its work coordinating events and projects throughout the year.

The event is free and open to the public and includes treats and a gift for volunteers.

Call Parks Program Manager Michael Holly at 649-4444, ext. 142, or email him at michaelh@ci.newcastle.wa.us for more information.