City Manager's Weekly Info Bulletin 9/15/06

September 15, 2006
To:     Mayor and Members of the City Council
From:Andrew Neiditz, City Manager

  • Railroad Point Defiance By-Pass Project: Public Works attended this week a pre environment scoping meeting with WSDOT Rail Division regarding their Rail Pt Defiance (Lakewood) By Pass project.    The rail project, which is fully funded ($59,000,000), will reconstruct the existing tracks and rail bed from Bridgeport Way to the existing connection point with the main line in the Nisqually valley and construct a new track paralleling Sounder’s track from Bridgeport Way (including crossing Bridgeport way) to just south of 66th St. All street crossings along the route will be upgraded with flashing lights, crossing gates and etc.  The reconstruction and new construction will be designed to handle trains speeds of up to 79 MPH in the urban areas and 129 MPH is the rural areas.  The purpose of the project is to improve Amtrak Cascade’s service, making it faster, more on time, reliable and safer. Amtrak will run 8 trains a day over the upgraded Lakewood route.  Construction is scheduled to start in fall of 2007 and be completed in mid 2008.  Usage is predicated upon Sound Transit’s completion of their grade separation work in Tacoma.
  • John School Report: The City of Lakewood has had a steady decline in prostitution arrests over the past few years and a good drop since the “John School” program began.
    • 2003 arrests: 196
    • 2004 arrests: 265
    • 2005 arrests: 174 (The John School started in November 2005)
    • 2006 arrests: 78   (on pace to finish the year with 117)
    Sgt. John Unfred, who coordinated the program, noted the he has only seen one prostitute walking in Lakewood since returned to Patrol in July. Special Ops has also noticed a sharp decline in the number of prostitutes walking the streets of Lakewood. Tacoma and Pierce County seem to be having quite a bit of activity along Pacific Ave.
  • New K-9 Team: Officer Jim Syler and new K-9 Officer Astor passed their State Certification as a generalist K9 team and are now able to take real calls.  They have some additional training they want to complete over the next several weeks, but will remain available for applications during that time.
  • School Zone Photo Enforcement Radar: The LPD photo radar team issued 656 school zone speeding infractions in just the first 3 days of school. The motor officers wrote another 113 NOIs in those 3 days. The message is: SLOW DOWN!
  • Annual Business Retention Meetings: City staff and EDB (Tacoma-Pierce County Economic Development Board) staff conducted several business retention meetings this week. One of the companies interviewed was Thrift Recycling, an internet reseller of used books. The company employs 51 workers in its 40,000 sq. ft. Lakewood Industrial Park warehouse and has an additional 12 in the corporate headquarters on Lakewood Drive. The Company opened two new warehouses in the past 12 months (Atlanta and Hammond, Indiana). The company sells approximately 4,000 books on line each day. The company plans to expand over the next year. Another company interviewed was Richards Packaging to discuss current operations, future prospects and work challenges. Richards has been in the Lakewood Industrial Park for 10 years and employs 40 staff in the production of plastics bottles for food and pharmaceutical industry. Its business is doing well and he hopes for significant expansion to the 24 hour/seven day a week operation. The company employs a multi-cultural workforce that poses unique challenges, but reports a very low employee turnover.
  • West Nile Virus Precautions: With the recent confirmed case of the Nile Virus we have contacted the Tacoma/Pierce Co Health Department to determine what if anything the City should be doing regarding its storm water facilities. Because it’s late in the season for mosquito breeding and the fact that all but two of our ponds are dry, they have preliminarily said no action is necessary. As a precautionary measure we will install mosquito traps for sampling and testing purposes at the two ponds.
  • ICMA Annual Conference:   The city manager attended the annual International City Managers Conference this week in San Antonio, with over 3,900 attendees from most states and numerous other countries. Workshops included civic engagement, emotional intelligence (EQ), performance management, public safety, sustainable economic development, and city communication with constituents.