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Council roundup: Moth eradication plan, 2016 department updates and holiday events

The Monday night meeting of the Gig Harbor City Council was the last meeting of 2015. An executive session to discuss labor negotiations followed the meeting before the council returned for a workstudy session about the impacts of growth for the city’s human resources department, administration and court.

Gypsy moths

Kirk Robinson, deputy director for the Washington State Department of Agriculture, gave a presentation on the recommended treatment plan for the Asian gypsy moths that have been found within Gig Harbor.

These moths are considered an invasive species that cause widespread defoliation of trees and shrubbery and pose a significant threat to the natural resources in Washington state.

“This is a species that you don’t like to have around,” Robinson said.

The proposed treatment is an organic pesticide called BTK (bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki) that directly targets the larvae of this moth. The pesticide is a naturally occurring bacterial fungicide that is considered safe for humans, animals, plants, fish and beneficial insects such as bees.

The treatment is planned for the spring of 2016, followed by high density trapping for any residual moths for several years.

“This is a very low-risk application,” Robinson said. “(There is) a really good track record of being successful.”

Robinson said that once a certain population of this moth is reached, eradication is no longer possible and containment is the only option. The goal of the Department of Agriculture is to protect the environment, which includes national parks and forests.

Robinson also warned that the presence of the moth can cause respiratory concern for some citizens because of a dander that comes from the moths.

Public hearings about the eradication are planned for early 2016 to inform residents.

Chamber of Commerce update

Warren Zimmerman, president and CEO of the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce, provided the council with an overview of the chamber’s events over the past year and an update on a video series in production about Gig Harbor.

The purpose of this video, Zimmerman said, is to show potential businesses thinking of relocating to Gig Harbor an overview of the city. The videos would provide a snapshot of topics ranging from the local economy and education to other businesses and daily life in Gig Harbor.

The video production has been contracted from Blue Highway and local producer Dennis Minor.

The first film — which will be about three minutes in length — is set to be finished in mid-January, Zimmerman said.

Fee updates and work program

The council heard from Lindsey Sehmel, senior planner in the city’s Planning Department, about fee updates and the department’s work program for 2016. Among the fee changes is a $20 fee for each land use permit sign.

The Engineering Department also submitted fee changes and the Building Department provided clarifications on updated fees.

The fee increases are effective Jan. 1, according to Sehmel, and she agreed — at the request of the council — that notice of the increase will be provided on the city’s website.

Sehmel also updated the council on the 2016 planned work program for the Planning Department, which included long-range projects and mandated updates.

Transportation and Harbor Hill updates

Senior Engineer Emily Appleton updated the council on the Six Year Transportation Improvement Program that the city is required to submit annually to the state.

The plan includes improvements to the Hunt Street crossing at state Route 16, the Harborview Drive and Stinson Avenue intersection, Harborview Drive and Pioneer Way and Hunt Street and 38th Avenue.

City Engineer Steve Misiurak provided the council with the most recent alignment of the roadway for Harbor Hill Extension. The city was recently awarded an $8 million transportation grant to finish the project.

Holiday events

Council member Tim Payne thanked the city’s Public Works Department for its work on the decorations and lights at the Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 5. He also thanked the Downtown Waterfront Alliance, the Skansie Netshed Foundation, St. Anthony Hospital and the Gig Harbor Fire Department for transporting Santa to the event.

“It was a great event,” said Payne, who stood in for Mayor Guernsey at the lighting.

Guernsey took a moment to mention her recent holiday event participation: “I had the pleasure of lighting the menorah last Thursday (Dec. 10) in Uptown.”

Guernsey also spoke at the memorial for former Mayor Gretchen Wilbert on Dec. 12.

“I came out of there feeling very happy and positive,” Guernsey said of the memorial. “Again, we were very privileged to have her as our mayor.”

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea

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