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

Walking through the vacant Golden Lion Motor Inn Tuesday afternoon, police Chief Mike Zaro recounted a homicide he worked at the motel in the early 2000s as a Pierce County Sheriff’s Department detective (before the city formed its police department).

As he walked alongside what remained of the partially demolished building, Zaro rattled off numerous crimes committed at the motel over the years. They ranged from serious like the homicide he worked, and sexual assaults, to lesser incidents like drug offenses and fights.

As he climbed into a giant excavator located at the back of the property, Zaro was ready to for some “demolition therapy.”

Seated in the cab of the yellow beast, Zaro maneuvered the arm over the building until it came to a rest at the roofline. Moments later the loud crunch of wood cracking and glass shattering echoed through the property.

Standing to the side, the demolition crew from Northwest Abatement Services, Inc. watched as Zaro helped tear down the single-story motel located at 9201 South Tacoma Way.

Northwest Abatement Services started demolition March 31 after nearly a month of preparation. That included asbestos cleanup and other steps to make 

sure the site was safe before the buildings came down.

The motel has been on the city’s radar for more than a decade for various building code violations and calls for police service.

In 2011 Lakewood police were called to the motel at a rate of two times that of nearby motels. By mid-2011 the Golden Lion’s calls for police service were the highest among all motels in the city, according to police statistics.

Here’s a snapshot of police calls for service for some of the worst years in 2011, 2012 and 2013:

  • 2011: 103 totalalls (13 “serious” including rape, weapon, shots fired, domestic violence, sex offender, narcotics violations)
  • 2012: 156 total calls (14 “serious”including simple assault, resisting arrest, fight, domestic violence and narcotics)
  • 2013: 102 total calls ( Seven were “serious”, including fights, simple assault and domestic violence).

The motel has a new owner who worked with the city to see the property razed. He plans to develop the site, though the details of those plans are still in the works. 

Click here to see a video of Chief Mike Zaro demolishing the building.

 

Yes we know, the driveway into Fort Steilacoom Park is challenging, to say the least.

Significant deterioration of the road prompted city staff to recently recommend moving up plans to pave the driveway as soon as possible.

Pending City Council approval later this month, additional money will be applied to the project. The allocation means a permanent fix could be made by the end of 2017.

But don't worry, the road won't remain in its current state between now and then.

Now that the weather is warming up, road crews will apply hot mix patches that provide a comprehensive repair compared to the gravel that is used during the cold, wet months. These temporary patches will smooth the driveway and remain in place until paving occurs.

The City Council will review the city’s 2016 year-end financial report and a proposed 2017 carry forward budget adjustment at its April 10 study session. The city’s finances ended better than anticipated in 2016 largely because revenues came in higher than anticipated and because we realized some savings on expenses.

Most of the money carried over will cover previously approved projects from 2016 that will be completed this year, but some projects like the Fort Steilacoom Park driveway will receive additional funding.

The city shares and understands the frustration of park visitors who have to navigate the holes in the road. But before we can fix them, two other projects in the park must be completed: the Waughop Lake Trail and parking lot improvements.

Work resumed April 3 on the trail project. That means large trucks carrying heavy loads will come and go from the park. Once the trail work is done more large trucks will travel through the park to improve the parking lot near the barns. (Check out the Waughop Lake Trail Project page to see photos of the trail paving .)

The hot asphalt patches will be applied to the large potholes on the driveway after these projects are done.

If the patches were applied now the large trucks would tear them up.

We ask for patience while this work is completed.

Drivers be ware, construction began 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 is 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.

 

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.

The Waughop Lake trail will close April 3 so crews can finish work on the trail improvements.

Work was halted earlier this year after weather became too wet and cold for new pavement to be installed.

The trail will remain closed to the public until the work is complete. Please stay off the trail until it reopens – your cooperation will reduce the project cost and allow us to finish faster.

Those worried about tree removal, don’t worry. Replacement trees will be planted in October. Find out more on the lake project page.

 

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.

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