Council approves funding request to combat vandalism and graffiti in Lynnwood parks

During its Feb. 27 business meeting, the Lynnwood City Council approved a funding request from the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts department to combat a recent surge in vandalism. 

The proposal, first introduced during the council’s Feb. 21 work session on Feb. 21included a request that the city use $388,432 of its ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds to hire two temporary employees and improve security measures.

Mike Davidson gestures to his neighbors and fellow volunteers as he asks the council to support their efforts in combatting graffiti.

Although most parks have security cameras, the funding will expand the security system across smaller parks and provide additional coverage in places that could use more supervision. The footage will be reviewed by the two new employees, who will then report any pertinent information. Their main job function is to cover, report and document instances of graffiti. They will also track public equipment requiring new parts and patrol for homeless encampments. Members of the public, notably those in the Meadowdale neighborhood, have spent their own money to purchase paint and supplies to cover repeated instances of graffiti, so an idea was proposed to create a volunteer resource booth where individuals can check out supplies.

Councilmember George Hurst moved to amend the motion to take funds from Lynnwood’s general fund instead of its ARPA account. He argued that over 80% of the city’s $9.7 million ARPA fund allocation  — or $8.7 million — has gone to city expenditures. Hurst also mentioned that the city generated more sales tax than expected in 2022, so the general fund could finance the proposal. 

“I really do believe these [ARPA funds] should be used for community needs and not hiring city full-time employees,” said Hurst, citing community proposals such as the Northwest Veterans Museum, a mental health education program for Lynnwood students, a funding request from senior services provider Homage and a family housing academy that educates tenants about their rights.

The amendment failed on a 1-5 vote (Councilmember Josh Binda was absent), with Hurst voting in favor. 

In the vote that followed, the council unanimously approved the request and Parks Director Lynn Sordel – celebrating his birthday that day — thanked the council for the “birthday gift.” 

Parks Director Sordel thanks the council for his “birthday gift”.

The council also unanimously approved a request from Council President Shannon Sessions on behalf of the Northwest Veterans Museum, the Lynnwood-Alderwood Manor Heritage Association and the Sno-Isle Genealogical Society to recoup lost wages during the pandemic. Each nonprofit organization will receive $2,500 to pay for rent, utilities and upkeep.

Sessions smiles after Councilmember Jim Smith cuts off her presentation by seconding the motion.

In other business, Safe Lynnwood founder Vivian Dong – who led recent protests against the siting of a Lynnwood methadone clinic — and other public commenters said they supported the motion made by Hurst at the Feb. 13 business meeting that would direct Lynnwood’s Department of Business Services to tighten zoning restrictions on essential public facilities. 

“While we’re examining the zoning requirements for the treatment centers, we can also put in low-barrier homeless motel units as well,” said Dong, adding that any changes should be made transparently.

Another public commenter named Nancy requested that the council try to speed up the ongoing construction on 196th Street Southwest, as the project began years ago and driving in the area is challenging due to congestion. 

Finally, the council approved Events Deputy Director Sarah Olson’s request to utilize the Lynnwood Event Center for Mayor Christine Frizzell’s upcoming state of the city address. Each calendar year, the city has four days where it can use the center space without charge to host public events. Frizzell’s state of the city address  – set for Friday, March 5, will use a half day. Olson stated that the pending request from the WAGRO (Washington-Guerrero) Foundation to use the event center for a Day of the Dead celebration had been withdrawn but the festival would proceed without the city use day.

–By Jasmine Contreras-Lewis

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