Puyallup Herald

Sports complex, permitting pains and WSU expansion on Puyallup’s 2019 work plan

Paul Ankenman (left) of Federal Way talks with Captain Jack’s Hodors teammate Frankie Van Gelder of Puyallup as Gabrielle Ankenman and her daughter, Gwendolyn, 3, warm up before their opening night summer league softball game at Puyallup Recreation Center on Valley Avenue on Thursday, July 19.
Paul Ankenman (left) of Federal Way talks with Captain Jack’s Hodors teammate Frankie Van Gelder of Puyallup as Gabrielle Ankenman and her daughter, Gwendolyn, 3, warm up before their opening night summer league softball game at Puyallup Recreation Center on Valley Avenue on Thursday, July 19. toverman@theolympian.com

Puyallup City Council met at its first retreat this month to discuss its work plan for 2019.

Mayor John Palmer sat down with The Puyallup Herald to share what made the list of priorities.

Among the new projects: college appreciation week and implementation of new permitting software.

Ongoing projects are familiar: homelessness, downtown development, the new public safety building and Puyallup Valley Sports Complex field conversion.

WSU expansion and college appreciation

There’s a Washington State University Research & Extension Center campus in Puyallup, and not many people know what goes on there, Palmer said.

In 2019, the City Council wants to bring the WSU campus — and Pierce College Puyallup — into the spotlight.

The city plans to meet with WSU staff to see how the campus can expand its reach and services.

A college appreciation week will be established some time in the fall, complete with WSU and Pierce College banners on streets.

There’s also a barn on the WSU campus that leaders envision converting to an events center.

The focus means “investing in buildings and infrastructure and new teachers,” Palmer said. “There’s more opportunities for citizens.”

Public safety building

The city completed preliminary design of its new public safety building last year. This year, the city’s goal is to nail down a final design and cost.

The “Puyallup Justice Center” will be built at 703 39th Ave. SE and house the municipal courts, jail and police department.

Palmer anticipates voters will be asked to approve a bond to fund the project in the November election.

In 2019, the city will pay off a $10 million bond voters passed in 1999 to update the Puyallup Public Library. Paying off the bond will help minimize cost to taxpayers if any new bond is passed in November.

Permitting pains

The city plans to implement new permitting software this year to serve as a “better interface” with developers and residents by making the review process simpler, said Palmer.

The city has faced permitting complaints in the past. In one instance, residents faced unexpected delays in moving into their new units at senior living facility Wesley Homes Bradley Park as the company waited for its city permits.

The city is working on its performance as a whole, Palmer added. City staff are undergoing training to reduce waste and increase customer satisfaction.

Included in that, the Council plans to complete its evaluation of City Manager Kevin Yamamoto in 2019. The review started last year in response to a wrongfully-terminated construction contract that led to long-running lawsuit.

Valley Sports Complex

New turf fields at the Puyallup Valley Sports Complex could be ready to go for spring sports in 2020 if all goes according to plan.

One field is expected to be finished this March, with a second on the way. The city is banking on a grant to complete the third and final field and is considering a low-interest loan for lighting.

The project is a priority for Puyallup officials, who say it’ll make the complex more marketable for tournaments and generate a positive economic impact for the city. It’ll also give local sports teams the ability to play year-round.

“There’s so much demand for turf fields,” Palmer said.

Allison Needles covers news in Puyallup, Sumner and Bonney Lake for The Puyallup Herald and education news for The News Tribune in Tacoma. She was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest.


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