The Lynnwood City Council began its June 13 business meeting proclamation recognizing Sunday, June 19, as Juneteenth in the City of Lynnwood. Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S., first celebrated in 1865 and officially recognized as a federal and state holiday in 2022.
“[The holiday] is a time to reflect on the injustice endured by the men, women, and children of African descent brought to this nation against their will, but whose legacy of determination to live free paved the way for our continued fight for justice,” said Councilmember Shirley Sutton in reading the proclamation. “On June 19, the City of Lynnwood will honor the legacy of Black and African American ancestors by continuing our commitment to cultivate a community where all have a sense of belonging and feel included, valued and welcome.”
In addition, two members of the community during public comments asked the council to formally address the recent vandalism at Lynnwood’s Next Step Pregnancy Center. The center’s Executive Director Heather Vasquez told the council she doesn’t know why anyone would target a community service that has nothing to do with the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on abortion laws.
“Why would you destroy a place that helps women and families?” Vasquez asked. “We offer exhaustive services, supplies and compassion to anyone who comes through our doors. We have no restrictions.”
Another commenter, Rebecca Anderson, urged the council to publicly condemn the destruction of the property. According to Anderson, over 30 centers that offer similar services have been vandalized across the U.S. since the draft Supreme Court decision regarding Roe vs. Wade was leaked, and she asked the council to make it known that the City of Lynnwood does not tolerate this behavior.
“This is a destructive, targeted act of violence that’s meant to intimidate and harass local charities and the women they serve, like Next Step [Pregnancy Center],” Anderson said. “You can call this what it is: A violent attack on women seeking life-affirming help. Not every woman wants to abort her child. Sometimes all she needs to know is someone cares and can help her and her baby get through a difficult time in their lives. Next Step provides that kind of support in Lynnwood. Please do the right thing and publicly condemn this act of violence.”
Council President George Hurst agreed with the women, saying vandalism of any sort should not be tolerated in Lynnwood.
“The vandalism at Next Step is really unacceptable,” Hurst said. “Our city says, ‘All are Welcome,’ and that means there is no room for [any kind of] hate in our city.”
Also during public comments, community member Pam Hurst spoke regarding the Volunteers of America Western Washington’s (VOAWW) rapid rehousing funding request that would come from the city’s $10.9 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money.
“I heard a lot of comments about how this rapid rehousing program had to serve specifically Lynnwood residents and the program had to be modified because somehow not everyone deserves to be helped,” Pam said. “You must have a job and for sure, you better be clean and sober. People who are homeless are not all drug addicts. But all homeless people are poor. And I believe all people, even homeless people, deserve a roof over their heads.”
Pam Hurst said that most programs like this are lucky to have a 30% success rate. However, the VOAWW’s program boasts a 70-80% success rate. This information, she said, is something the council can’t afford to ignore, especially if it truly aims to help all Lynnwood residents.
In other business, the council discussed the possibility of creating a temporary position for an ARPA funds accountant. Lynnwood Finance Director Michelle Meyer said the city is proposing to create a two-and-a-half-year position to handle and track the allocation of ARPA funds.
“As we get going and really start pushing some of this funding out the door, the tracking [of the funds] becomes incredibly important, and we have to make sure that we have all of those pieces in place,” Meyer said.
The accountant’s salary would come out of the city’s ARPA funds, according to Meyer. A full-time position would cost approximately $250,000, while a part-time position would cost half that.
“It doesn’t seem like we need a full-time person to dole out $11 million to places we’ve already decided,” Councilmember Shannon Sessions said.
The rest of the council voiced their agreement with Sessions, and Councilmember Jim Smith moved to allot up to $125,000 in ARPA funds for a temporary, part-time accountant position that would not exceed two and a half years.
The motion passed unanimously.
The council also heard from Lynnwood Deputy Parks Director Sarah Olson regarding the Town Square Park acquisition. According to Olson, city staff have found a 1.65-acre parcel of land on 198th Street Southwest with an owner willing to sell to the city.
The purchase price for the property is $8 million.
Olson offered councilmembers an overview of some possibilities for financing the purchase of the property, but inquired as to which the council would be most interested in.
The city has until July 13 to give an approval notice to the property owner, according to Olson.
To fund the purchase, councilmembers asked for further information about debt financing along with several options that combine debt financing with partial cash payment that would come from the city’s park impact fees. More information on these financing options will be brought before the council at its June 20 meeting.
Also on Tuesday night’s agenda was a recognition of the city’s Public Works Department employees. The department’s Administration Division Manager Marcie MacQuarrie was recognized both for her 15 years of service in Lynnwood and for recently receiving her master’s degree.
“Going through [your master’s degree] is hard,” MacQuarrie said. “Going through it while you’re working a full-time job and raising children and doing all of those things that you do to keep your life going is even harder. Thank you for the recognition.”
In addition, pump station operator Bob Williams was recognized for his work. Williams manages the city’s seven sanitary sewer lift stations and has over 20 years’ experience in the field.
Williams also thanked the council for the recognition.
In other business, the council held a public hearing for the city’s six-year capital facilities plan and transportation improvement program. The update is meant to provide a preview as to what projects are on the city’s agenda and to summarize the general expected costs associated with these projects.
No public or council comments were made during the public hearing.
The meeting ended with an executive session that was closed to the public.
–By Lauren Reichenbach