Tumwater’s top stories for 2022

Tumwater’s top stories for 2022

By Jerome Tuano

Sullivan becomes Tumwater’s first female mayor

Debbie Sullivan was sworn in as Tumwater’s first female mayor during an in-person ceremony on Jan. 4. She won the 2021 mayoral election with 81% of the vote, beating Pamela Hanson, who received 17% of the vote. .

Prior to her campaign, Sullivan served two terms as a council member. She was also a member of the city’s planning commission, where she served as its chair for seven years.

I-5 Reconfiguration Project

The city began construction work on improvements planned for the Capitol Boulevard Corridor Project by demolishing three buildings along Capitol Boulevard and Lee Street in March. The city will now open the first phase of the corridor project in January 2023 through the I-5/Trosper/Capitol reconfiguration project.

The project includes three roundabouts and a new road linking Lee Street with Trosper Road. Tumwater’s website explains that the initial phase of the corridor project will address traffic delays while also improving pedestrian safety and mobility deficiencies along said streets. The project costs approximately $12.5 million and is jointly funded by the city and the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board (TIB).

Annexation of the final parts of the urban growth area

The Tumwater City Council approved the annexation of 11 unincorporated county parcels covering 29 acres of land on May 17. Expansion continued in June when the city annexed the 132-acre Trosper Lake Island, which was the last piece of Tumwater’s urban growth.

City Planning Manager Brad Medrud explained that the annexation would allow development of these areas and improve their access to public services.

The planned explosion threatens endangered frogs

A specialty district south of Tumwater called Hopkins Drainage Ditch District #2 contracted a Chehalis-based rock drilling company to blast a grass plug in Salmon Creek. District Commissioner Mat Jackmond explained that the grass plug was obstructing the flow of water along the Creek and that it needed to be cleared to avoid flooding.

The controlled eruption was planned for September but was met with backlash as the area provided habitat for the Oregon Spotted Frog and Mazama Pocket Gopher, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Tumwater opposes annexation of Hopkins

Hopkins Drainage Ditch District #2 sought to annex the Reserve after approving a tax roll Sept. 24 that includes 599 properties in the neighborhood. The district sought to annex these properties to generate taxes and increase funding for its operations after intense flooding in its area in January.

Tumwater city officials opposed the annexation through an ordinance and by speaking on the issue at a countywide public hearing. City Administrator John Doan provided an update Dec. 6 saying the county treasurer has received a revised tax roll from Hopkins that excludes annexed properties.

Tumwater signed on to the initial Memorandum of Understanding for the Deschutes Estuary project

The Tumwater City Council approved a memorandum of understanding outlining initial agreements for the Deschutes Estuary project on Oct. 18. The restoration project aims to turn Capitol Lake into an estuary with the coordination of the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services (DES), the city of Olympia, the Port of Olympia, Thurston County and the Squaxin Island Tribe.

Tumwater will contribute $2,865,000, which will be used for maintenance cleanup following the removal of the Capitol Lake dam. DES will also coordinate with Tumwater to design the South Basin sidewalks, which will be transferred to Tumwater after the project is completed.

Approval of the rental housing code

The Tumwater City Council passed an ordinance approving the rental housing code on Nov. 22. The code was a new chapter in the city’s municipal code and included new measures to protect tenants amid rising rental costs. It includes provisions for increasing the number of days’ notice before a landlord can increase the rent or terminate a tenancy without cause.

Tumwater votes unanimously to send the RFA resolution to a vote

During a Dec. 6 meeting, the Tumwater city council voted in favor of creating a Regional Fire Authority (RFA) with Olympia to be voted on by the public next year. The RFA will be funded by a controversial fire benefit levy, which will be discussed at a public hearing in January. Additional funds will be obtained from a fire tax, which is a property tax that will not exceed $1.00 per $1,000 of assessed value when the fire benefit fee is active.

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