Council considers more ARPA spending, street intersection inspection

Public Works Director David Mach discusses the city street intersection inspection.

The Lynnwood City Council dove right into its Tuesday, Sept. 6 work session following a three-week summer break. After another lengthy discussion of how to spend the city’s remaining  $10.9 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, the council has yet to reach any new agreements on how it will allocate the remaining dollars.

Lynnwood Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Linda Jones came before the council with more information on a “Shop Local” business idea – an ARPA fund request that had been made in July but was tabled until after the council came back from its summer break.

“A Shop Local campaign means we are encouraging people in and outside of Lynnwood to come into Lynnwood and do their shopping, dining, entertainment and services here,” Jones said. “Basically spending their money in Lynnwood, which is going to add to the economic cycle, create jobs [and] contribute to the sales tax revenue.”

Jones said the campaign would help Lynnwood businesses create a unique brand for themselves that tied into one main theme. Perhaps each business could incorporate the shade of blue that Lynnwood’s logo is known for, Jones said. This would help shoppers, as well as other business owners, identify which companies were participating in the campaign.

Jones also suggested a sort of BINGO game or passport stamp system so the city could keep track of how well the campaign is doing. When a shopper purchased an item from participating stores, they would receive a BINGO or passport stamp. Once they got a BINGO or filled their passport, they could claim a prize at the chamber office, Jones said.

“That helps us because we know where they’re spending money, and beyond sales tax revenue, we know what things they’re looking for and we also get to meet the people that are shopping in Lynnwood face to face,” she said.

When asked how the chamber plans to market the campaign, Jones said her main focus would be to spread the word on Facebook. According to her, the chamber seems to get the most interaction on Facebook and hopes the trend will continue with the new campaign.

Councilmember Shannon Sessions suggested creating a website for the campaign, as she said not all Lynnwood residents use or have access to Facebook. Jones said she had considered this, but wanted to keep costs as low as possible, and hence did not originally suggest the idea to the council. However, she said the chamber would be very open to the idea of creating a website, should the council be willing to allocate more money for the campaign.

A decision on the Shop Local campaign is set to be made once more planning has been done and more specifics are brought back to the council.

The council also briefly revisited a few other ideas that were tabled in July, such as standardized tutoring at the Lynnwood Library and adding emergency phones and cameras in the city’s parks. However, the councilmembers who had introduced the ideas have not yet had time to gather sufficient information, so discussions on those topics will occur at a later meeting.

Councilmember Jim Smith reminded his colleagues that the council does not need to allocate all the ARPA funds at once. He encouraged them to consider holding onto the remaining money should something more pressing arise before Dec. 31, 2024 – the funding allocation deadline.

In other business, Lynnwood’s Public Works Director David Mach shared his findings from a transportation funding and intersection inspection. The city recently hired a traffic consultant to evaluate 10 high-interest intersections within the city that staff identified as presenting safety and operational concerns.

“We looked at traffic volumes for each of these intersections,” Mach said, “and reviewed four-year history collision data as well, which is how we came up with this list.”

Mach then discussed each intersection that was studied, which include:

– the northbound lanes of 50th Avenue West and 52nd Avenue West,

– the intersections of 48th Avenue West and Veterans Way – also known as 194th Street Southwest,

– 212th Street Southwest and 66th Avenue West,

– 188th Street Southwest and 48th Avenue West,

– 198th Street Southwest and 40th Avenue West,

– 204th Street Southwest and 52nd Avenue West,

– 208th Street Southwest and 52nd Avenue West and

– Alderwood Mall Boulevard and 28th Avenue West.

The last four intersections were found to not pose any hazards to drivers, and no changes are being proposed.

According to Mach, the city will try its best to eliminate the hazards without going on a spending spree, but the department wanted the council’s opinions before they move forward.

While Mach said adding stop lights at each of these hazardous intersections might seem like the simplest solution in most cases, each stop light costs around $700,000 and the department is trying to find other ways to mitigate incidents.

Aside from adding stop lights, a few suggestions the department proposed are eliminating left-hand turns at some of the problematic intersections, or installing bigger stop signs, flashing beacons or “Stop Sign Ahead” signs to alert drivers of an upcoming intersection.

While the council agreed that stop lights might be the best route regardless of the cost, a few wanted more information before deciding how to move forward. Councilmember Julieta Altamirano-Crosby requested an in-person tour of the intersections so she could get a better understanding of the hazards. Mach agreed that a tour would be a great idea and will work on showing interested councilmembers the intersections in person before a decision is made.

In addition, the council revisited its discussion of its Lynnwood Convention Center (LCC) day-use applications. Each year, the council receives four free-use days at the LCC and this year, requested applications from local businesses who would like to use the LCC on one of those days.

While the council initially received eight applications, some were rejected due to dates not being available or organizations wanting to host an event elsewhere. The council at its Aug. 8 meeting approved free-use days for the following organizations: the Day of the Dead, Verdant Health Commission and the Pacific Chamber Orchestra.

However, the council requested more information on a fourth application – for the International Women’s Day: Break the Bias event – as not much information was given for how long the event would last or what the purpose of it was.

Lynnwood’s Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department Deputy Director Sarah Olson discussed with the council what the event would entail. Although only four hours long, the event would require a full day of use at the LCC due to the amount of time it will take to set up and tear down the event. 

Most councilmembers seemed to like the idea of the event, but Smith said he was skeptical. He told Olson he hopes the LCC will figure out a way to determine how Lynnwood-centric all the events are. He said he doesn’t want companies to simply take advantage of the LCC and council’s free-use days to host events that will not be beneficial mostly to Lynnwood residents.

The council is set to vote on the International Women’s Day: Break the Bias event at its Sept. 12 meeting.

–By Lauren Reichenbach

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