Brynn Grimley (253) 983-7761 • Fax (253) 589-3774 • bgrimley@cityoflakewood.us
Communications Manager

Drivers be ware, construction begins Monday (March 27) on 108th Street from Main Street to Bridgeport Way to make improvements, including adding curb and gutters and sidewalks to improve pedestrian safety. The road will be open during this work.

Initial work will be done to address utilities and pour the concrete for the curb and gutters. Work will be suspended until school is out, so not to disrupt the comings and goings of schools along the route. Once school is out work will resume with the final stages of improving the roadway with new asphalt and a detour will likely be necessary.

The project is slated to be done at the end of July.

 

If you’ve driven around the city you’ve probably asked yourself “What’s up with all the potholes?” (We’re looking at you Gravelly Lake and Lakewood drives).

The answer: The weather.

Continuous rain and freezing temperatures are a paved road’s worst enemy. That’s why after the February snow days we saw more roads (ahem, Lakewood Drive) with holes popping up seemingly out of nowhere.

So how does a pothole form?

According to our trusty friend “Google”, a pothole appears when water seeps through holes or cracks in the pavement to the subsoil. The regular flow of cars and heavy loads over the compromised section of roadway results in the asphalt giving out and a hole materializing. (Don’t worry we also conferred with city engineers, they gave a similar explanation.)

The more water you have, the higher the chance for potholes – hence why we see more potholes during wetter months.

The city places a high priority on its roads and preventing potholes from forming. It does this through its crack and chip sealing programs. That’s where city road crews identify compromised roads – or roads with cracked pavement – and place a patch or seal over the impaired area to eliminate the possibility for water to seep in and cause disruption.

We can’t fix every road at once, and an onslaught of bad weather (think snow followed by record rainfall) speeds up deterioration and prevents us from patching the roads immediately. Heavy rainfall and cooler temperatures also limit the type 

of patches applied. That means right now while we're still working our way toward warmer spring weather temporary patches are being used until road crews can come back and overlay permanent fixes.

We do our best to get ahead of the problem or respond promptly when it’s brought to our attention.

So what about Gravelly Lake and Lakewood drives, why haven't they been fixed yet?

We’re glad you asked.

First a little history lesson from city engineer Weston Ott:

“What we are seeing on Gravelly Lake Drive and Lakewood Drive is the result of pre-incorporation, where Pierce County put a paving fabric and a thin overlay on these roads then chip sealed probably every five to eight years. Water has gotten into these layers, and with no place to go in areas of cracked pavement, it blows out when vehicles pass. This is why you have these shallow but long potholes that are actually more difficult to fill and seal than a traditional pothole.”

Both thoroughfares are slated for a major overhaul – reconstruction and overlay work – this year. Temporary asphalt filling may be done to reduce to most egregious of holes, but smaller ones may be left unattended.

And don’t forget – report potholes with the FREE MyLakewood311 mobile app, available for download in the Google Play and Apple iStore.

Five years after Washington voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana the Lakewood City Council is revisiting how the landscape has changed.

The City Council wants to see what other cities in the region have done around marijuana operations. That includes looking at cities that have banned marijuana businesses and those that allow them.

At a study session March 13 the council tasked city staff with researching various questions around marijuana sales.

The information is expected to be presented to the City Council in April.

The council requested:

  • Examples of zoning and licensing from other cities allowing marijuana operations
  • Examples of ordinances banning marijuana operations
  • A look at Lakewood zoning to determine where marijuana businesses could be located based on state buffer restrictions

Across the region cities and counties have taken varied stances on marijuana. Some like Gig Harbor and DuPont have implemented bans, while others like Tacoma have allowed businesses to set up shop.

Elsewhere cities that once had bans in place have since lifted them, as was the case recently in Fife.

Two years ago the city of Federal Way held an advisory vote to see whether its residents wanted marijuana businesses in city limits. The overwhelming majority of voters said no and the City Council instituted a ban – this after 53 percent of Federal Way voters approved passage of Initiative 502 that legalized recreational marijuana in 2012.

In neighboring University Place, the City Council is debating whether to remove its ban in favor of allowing a single retail store as allocated by the state Liquor and Cannabis Board.

The Fircrest City Council also recently voted to allow marijuana sales in the city – a move that came after city leaders determined the city needed to take a stance one way or the other on marijuana.

To date the Lakewood City Council has had minimal conversations around marijuana. The city does not have a ban, nor does it have regulations that would support the establishment of marijuana businesses.

Instead the city has a license requirement that states all businesses must obtain a business license to legally operate in city limits. A condition of the license is that a business complies with all local, state and federal laws.

Marijuana remains an illegal substance under federal law.

Once presented with the information the City Council will determine how it wants to proceed with the conversation.

The Lakewood City Council took a step forward in the cleanup of Waughop Lake Monday night when it approved a lake management plan aimed at restoring the water quality of the 30-acre lake.

The plan outlines two options for addressing recurring toxic algae blooms in the lake: applying alum or dredging the lake bottom.

Adding alum treatments is a temporary solution that could last nearly a decade. If added to the lake it would stop the toxic blue-green algae that has plagued the lake for as long as anyone can remember.

Dredging the lake is a permanent solution, but comes with a multi-million dollar price tag.

Currently Lakewood leases the 350-acre Fort Steilacoom Park, including Waughop Lake, from the state.

The city has asked the state to transfer ownership and is awaiting response from the state Legislature. A formal request was submitted this legislative session.

In 1972 Pierce County leased the land from the state to create the park. Pierce College also leased some of the land for educational purposes.

Years after it became a city Lakewood entered into an agreement with Pierce County to share maintenance of the park. Over the years that relationship changed and by 2008 Lakewood was the lead agency responsible for maintenance and operations at the park.

By 2014 Pierce County agreed to bow out of the agreement, leaving Lakewod to assume the lease from the state. 

Under the agreement the city is on the hook for all maintenance and upkeep at the park, which has been the long-standing expectation of the state since its first agreement with the county.

To date Lakewood has invested nearly $11 million in park improvements at Fort Steilacoom Park.

The next step for management of the lake is to further research costs associated with clean up and any necessary permits so that when the city takes ownership of the property it can move forward. 

The council did not commit to any form of dredging cleanup of the lake at its March 6 meeting. Instead council members said they were open to more studies to determine whether dredging is realistic given potential environmental limitations and fiscal restrictions.

Adopting the plan improves the city’s ability to pursue local, state, and federal grants to address the water quality issues and gives city staff the ability to add the proposed work to the 2018 stormwater management capital improvement plan and consider it as part of an upcoming stormwater rate analysis. 

Read the lake monitoring report here

Review the Feb. 27 City Council study session presentation on the lake management plan here.

Watch the Lakewood City Council March 6 meeting and hear the council discussion about the plan.

At Monday's City Council meeting Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro presented the department's year-end report from 2016.

Included are statistics on hiring - Lakewood Police hired10 officers, one animal control officer and an evidence custodian, as well as data on the various crimes Lakewood police officers respond to.

Overall the city's calls for service, traffic stops and arrests continue to decline. One area that did see an uptick is the total number of property crimes, which were up 3.4 percent from 2015. The department continues to use its dedicated property crime units to address these crimes and in 2016 the team shut down a large scale organized retail theft operation within the city.

Click here to read the full report.

Lakewood is excited to share its Fort Steilacoom Park has been selected as the site of the 2019 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships.

“The cyclocross championship is the most contested bid for bicycle racing in the U.S.,” said Dean Burke, executive director of the Tacoma South Sound Sports Commission. “The last time the event was in the Puget Sound area – the 1990s – it was only a small fraction of the size it is now.”

Cyclocross is a mostly off-road bicycle race that includes obstacles, hills, curves and mud. Racing season runs September to January and is open to men, women and includes a junior age bracket for young cyclists.

Fort Steilacoom Park is an ideal location for the competition, said Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson.

“It offers beautiful varied terrain, ample space for concessions, and is spectator friendly. It also has enough space to offer parking, as was demonstrated when the park was used as the primary parking location for the 2015 U.S. Open,” Anderson said.

Thousands of participants, including more than 2,000 racers from 50 states, spectators, volunteers and media are expected to descend on the 350-acre park in December 2019 for the 46th annual championship event.

Preliminary estimates suggest the event will generate $1.5 million for the region in direct spending by visitors and people associated with the event.

“Alongside all of our state and regional cyclocross partners we have been preparing for this for a long time,” Burke said. “The city of Lakewood has been a star for openly embracing cyclocross the way they have. Fort Steilacoom Park is an iconic venue for the sport in the Pacific Northwest.”

Lakewood is ready to show off its beloved Fort Steilacoom Park, Anderson said.

“I can assure you USA Cycling will have Lakewood’s support, including that of our Parks and Recreation staff which has the expertise to support such an event. We will do everything we can to make the 2019 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships a great event.”

The Tacoma South Sound Sports Commission led the group bidding to bring the week-long event to the region. The nonprofit that develops amateur athletic events and promotes Pierce County as a destination for amateur sporting events was selected by USA Cycling over groups from major cities like the Utah Sports Commission, Oregon Sports Authority and San Diego Sports Commission.

See the official USA Cycling announcement here .

All eyes are on the Lakewood Police Department as it embarks on a new program geared toward reducing the number of impaired drivers on the city’s roads.

The department is the first in the state to offer a phlebotomy, or blood draw, program where officers are certified to draw blood from a suspected impaired driver. The blood draw will occur in a designated room at police headquarters with the same equipment and procedures that would be found in a hospital.

Three factors drove the decision to pursue an in-house program:

  • A desire to increase driving under the influence convictions
  • Reduce DUI test refusals
  • Reduce the number of DUI cases that go to trial

“Over three years statistics show approximately 17 percent of drivers arrested for DUI refused a breath test,” Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro said of state statistics.

That number is higher in Lakewood, Zaro said, noting in the last three years Lakewood officers pursued blood draws on average 63 times a year.

That means arresting officers must obtain a search warrant and take the person to a hospital to have blood drawn to prove a person drove while intoxicated.

In some instances suspected drunk drivers, or those driving under the influence of drugs, aren’t tested because they refuse the breath test and hospital staff is unavailable to collect blood samples quickly after an arrest is made.

Breathalyzer tests only register a person’s blood alcohol content, not drugs. A blood test is the easiest way to determine a person’s level of drug intoxication.

“A significant amount of people are being brought to our area hospitals for the sole purpose of drawing blood,” Zaro said.

Lakewood Police hope by having certified officers on duty area emergency rooms will see a reduction in requests for blood draws, freeing medical staff up to respond to emergencies.

State traffic authorities hope Lakewood's program shows increased efficiency that will result in more arrests of impaired drivers and reduce the likelihood of traffic fatalities, said Darrin Grondel, director of the state Traffic Safety Commission.

The commission awarded the department a $50,000 grant to get the program up and running.

Grondel praised Lakewood’s innovative move at a press conference Thursday.

“The time saved gets officers out of hospital waiting rooms and back on the road to process more DUIs,” he said.

The Pierce County Traffic Safety Task Force, composed of 21 law enforcement officials across the county, also supports the move, Fircrest Police Chief John Cheesman said Thursday.

Washington State Patrol Capt. Dan Hall said his agency expects to watch the program closely.

Six Lakewood officers completed medical phlebotomy certification through Bates Technical College and were certified by the state Department of Health.

Officers haven’t done a blood draw yet, but assume they will this weekend when countywide DUI enforcement patrols are planned.

Officers conducting the blood draw will continue to follow state law which requires a search warrant to perform the blood draw.

The blood draws will be done at department headquarters and replicate a hospital setting.

“The only difference is officers will do it,” Zaro said.

WATCH: Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro offers up his arm to demonstrate new blood draw program.

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