Council learns about ParksLove project, request for deputy city clerk

Parks Deputy Director Sarah Olson spoke about the research phase of the project.

At its work session June 20, the Lynnwood City Council received several briefings about city programs, including the city’s ParksLove Project.

After a late start due to technical difficulties, the meeting was moved to a conference room in Lynnwood City Hall and was initially hosted to viewers over Zoom, rather than its normal livestream on the city website. Councilmember Josh Binda was at an event and did not attend. 

The council learned about the ongoing effort of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts department to make parks more equitable and accessible through the ParksLove Project. In 2021, Lynnwood was awarded a $300,000 grant from the National Recreation & Park Association’s resilient park access program. Parks Deputy Director Sarah Olson explained she would be dividing the presentation into three briefings, with the first of these presented during the June 20 work session.

Olson began with an overview of the benefits associated with local access to parks, such as improving one’s health through lower stress and access to an active environment and community connections forged through public shared spaces. Further, the environmental perks of having green space in an urban environment include lower temperatures and reduced flooding. Finally, the parks generate millions of dollars for Lynnwood and its businesses each year. 

Through a study of park use from April-December 2022, it was determined that 80% of Lynnwood residents live within a 10-minute walk of a green space. Olson elaborated on the figure by pointing out that most of this access was provided by the Interurban Trail, which she described as “an asset, but not the same as a park”. She also pointed out that Lynnwood’s City Center has a coverage gap when it comes to parks. While the city has plans to create a park in this area, construction is likely years away.

Further studies on the demographics of park use in Lynnwood indicated an overrepresentation of white/caucasian users and an underrepresentation of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) users. In response, the city consulted BIPOC community members to determine what type of amenities they would like to see in parks, and there were many similar responses. 

Councilmember Patrick Decker mentioned that walkways and light exercise equipment were common park utilities in many Asian countries, adding that Lynnwood’s Asian population would likely appreciate such items. He also asked if Asian residents were included in the focus groups, as he hadn’t seen them in the images. Olson replied that they were indeed polled and that there were just no pictures of them on that particular slide. 

City Clerk Luke Lonie speaks about the process of procuring public records.

In other business, City Clerk Luke Lonie briefed the council on his office’s request for a deputy clerk position due to the increasing number of public records requests. Lonie stated that record requests, which had declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, had reached new highs and were now likely to exceed pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023. 

Also related to public records, requests for city employee and councilmember communication records prompted a discussion about procuring cell phones for councilmembers. This would allow the city clerk’s office to more easily access councilmember communications. Each councilmembers has a city email address managed by Lynnwood, so email communication records are easy to procure. However, city councilmembers do not possess city-issued phones for business, so call records and text messages are retrieved from personal cell phones. The issue will be considered in future city council meetings. 

Later, Development and Business Services Department Director David Kleitsch and Economic Development Manager Ben Wolters spoke to the council about a multi-jurisdictional partnering agreement designed to improve communication and cooperation among Lynnwood and other agencies — including Sound Transit, the City of Everett, Community Transit and Snohomish County — during Sound Transit’s Everett Link Extension Project. The Everett City Council approved the agreement on May 10th.

Councilmembers were careful to clarify that the agreement did not bind the city to any action, merely that it was designed to improve collaboration and allow cities and the county to have input on the project’s direction and siting choices. 

Robert Leutwyler talks about Lynnwood’s potential.

Finally, Robert Leutwyler was interviewed by the council for a Planning Commission position. Leutwyler, who is also running for Lynnwood City Council Position 7, focused on equity and accessible public transport in his answers to the council, who remarked that Leutwyler could bring much to the position. 

— By Jasmine Contreras-Lewis

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