Lynnwood City Council receives PARC Plan update, discusses emergency proclamation

Councilmembers discuss the new emergency proclamation.

Monday night’s Lynnwood City Council meeting started off with part two of the PARC (Park, Arts, Recreation & Conservation) Plan update from city staff.

The 2016-2025 PARC Plan aims to establish strategic directions, goals, policies and action items for the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department and is due for a six-year update to maintain state grant funding eligibility.

Deputy Director Sarah Olsen began by talking about Lynnwood’s park level of service (LOS) policy. This policy examines the amount of parks and recreation facilities needed to adequately serve the community. 

Prior to 2016, the LOS standard measurement in Lynnwood was 10 acres of core parkland for every 1,000 residents. In the 2016 Plan, that number decreased to 3.5 acres for every 1,000 residents. Olsen said these numbers reflect the rising population as well as land scarcity and limited park funds.

To maintain an LOS measurement of 3.5 acres, Olsen said the city will need to acquire and develop approximately 18 more acres of land within the next four years. However, adding acreage to Lynnwood’s parks isn’t the only thing that part two of the PARC Plan update focuses on.

“We identified in the 2016 Plan that acres-per-capita approach doesn’t address all of the community’s park system priorities,” Olsen said. “The 2022 update formalizes other system priorities such as the overall condition and distribution of parks, the types of experiences they offer and the overall use and increased demands on the existing park system.”

Council Vice President Jim Smith said he doesn’t think the city should be buying more park land until the city develops the land it already has . He brought up Rowe Park as an example. The city acquired the park in the early 2000s and doesn’t have plans to develop it until 2026. 

“We have 88 (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant parks around here but this one is specifically for the disabled,” Smith said. “It’s not a park. It’s a field. Fifteen to 20 years is way too long to develop this park.”

The city council is scheduled to vote on the PARC Plan update – including possible amendments to it — at its Feb. 14 meeting.

In other business, the council began considering updates to Lynnwood’s 2024 Comprehensive Plan update. The Comprehensive Plan focuses on guiding growth, preservation and land development in Snohomish County over the next 20 years. 

State law requires the Comprehensive Plan to be updated every eight years. Lynnwood’s last plan was completed in 2015, but due to the pandemic, the city received an extra year to update it. Community Planning Manager Ashley Winchell is in the process of gathering data on the community and seeking input from residents and business owners to best answer the question: How do we plan for 2044?

Winchell said accessibility and inclusiveness will be important when drafting the official 2024 Comprehensive Plan update. The plan will be written with the community in mind – in an informal tone that keeps readers engaged and makes them feel like they are able to understand and be a part of the community planning process, she added. Winchell also said she hopes Lynnwood residents will want to read the plan and be interested in what the city is planning for the future.

“The plan should incorporate the needs of the whole community,” she said.

Community Planning Manager Ashley Winchell goes over the timeline for the 2024 Comprehensive Plan.

In the early stages of the planning process, the city will be doing popup events, hosting open houses, and trying to boost community engagement to get the widest variety of input as possible.

“This is the first step,” said David Kleitsch, Lynnwood’s economic development director. “We don’t have any plans or goals established, but we are embarking on the journey to work with the community to have those goals and recommendations prepared.”

The last item of business for Monday’s meeting was a discussion regarding Mayor Christine Frizzell’s proposal to confirm an emergency proclamation under her leadership. The proclamation, which was originally issued under former Mayor Nicola Smith, gives Lynnwood the ability to quickly respond to the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic and helps ensure the city’s employees and citizens stay as safe as possible.

Lynnwood Director of Emergency Chuck Steichen told the council why he believed the city should confirm another proclamation. 

“The results of COVID on the supply chain right now has created some real logistical challenges with not only identifying vendors that supply [COVID test kits] but also being able to access them quickly,” Steichen said. “Frankly, the need to have the proclamation in place currently is simply from a procurement aspect. I don’t foresee any need to utilize emergency orders or anything of that nature.”

Steichen said having the emergency proclamation in place would allow the city to expedite not only test kits, but any emergency orders that may need to be made should another outbreak occur.

The request for confirming another emergency proclamation was met with negative comments from some of the councilmembers.

“The first proclamation… was two years ago,” said Vice President Smith. “I can’t in good conscience go along with this. COVID, from everything we’re seeing, is on its way out. There’s nothing that has to be ‘emergency’ about this.”

Councilmember Shannon Sessions said she was in favor of confirming a new proclamation even though she had concerns similar to those expressed by Smith. She said she felt the city should “finish what we started and [follow through on] some of the promises that we made.”

Both Sessions and Councilmember Patrick Decker agreed that there should be strong limitations placed on the new proclamation so that it didn’t delegate as much power as the previous one did.

The proclamation has already been signed by the mayor and it is now awaiting council confirmation.

The meeting ended with a 45-minute executive session that was closed to the public.

— by Lauren Reichenbach

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