City of Kirkland Receives Innovation in Health and Productivity Award

The City of Kirkland receives “Innovation in Health and Productivity” award from Alliant Employee Benefits for the City’s “Healthy Kirkland Initiative” which included the implementation of a high deductible health plan with a strong wellness incentive program, a health reimbursement arrangement plan (HRA/VEBA) and a near-site employee health clinic that promotes savings and informed health car decision-making. The initiative was launched in April 2015. Pictured L to R: Council Members Dave Asher and Jay Arnold; Hannah Buser, Account Executive, Alliant Employee Benefits; Mayor Amy Walen; Deputy Mayor Penny Sweet; and Council Members Toby Nixon and Doreen Marchione.

The City of Kirkland receives “Innovation in Health and Productivity” award from Alliant Employee Benefits for the City’s “Healthy Kirkland Initiative” which included the implementation of a high deductible health plan with a strong wellness incentive program, a health reimbursement arrangement plan (HRA/VEBA) and a near-site employee health clinic that promotes savings and informed health car decision-making. The initiative was launched in April 2015.

Pictured L to R: Council Members Dave Asher and Jay Arnold; Hannah Buser, Account Executive, Alliant Employee Benefits; Mayor Amy Walen; Deputy Mayor Penny Sweet; and Council Members Toby Nixon and Doreen Marchione.

At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, the City of Kirkland was recognized by Alliant Employee Benefits for the City’s innovative approach to employee health and benefits.  The City’s program is called “Healthy Kirkland Initiative” and the award is the “Alliant 2015 Award for Innovation in Health and Productivity.”  Alliant presented the award to the Council.

Kirkland community helps those in need; Month of Concern for the Hungry food drive a success

Kirkland’s Month of Concern for the Hungry food drive, which was held during September 2015, collected 10,826 pounds of food and received close to $3,000 in monetary donations. Over 100 volunteers contributed 230 hours during the two-day drive at local grocery stores by assisting donors place food items in collection bins. Donations have been donated to Hopelink’s food bank and will benefit Kirkland and Eastside residents in need.


Hopelink helps to provide food, shelter, transportation and family support to north and east King County families in crisis. Even with the success of Kirkland’s food drive, Hopelink needs additional donations which can be dropped off at its Kirkland/Northshore Emergency Services Center located in Totem Lake at 11011 120th Ave NE, Kirkland, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Food donations may also be dropped off at Kirkland City Hall, 123 Fifth Avenue, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A list of “most needed” items can be found on Hopelink’s website at

New Playfield Opens Thursday; Mayor, Google, and Lakeview Elem. students to attend

A brand-new Kirkland play field will debut with a ribbon-cutting Thursday, Oct. 8 at 3:30 p.m. – the field will be uniquely shared three ways between the City of Kirkland Parks & Community Services, Lakeview Elementary, and Google. The event will be attended by Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen, Dr. Traci Pierce, Superintendent of Schools, Lake Washington School District, Google
and students from Lakeview Elementary.

According to the City, there is a shortage of fields in Kirkland- the city never has enough space to fill requests. The space by Lakeview Elementary went from unfinished dirt to a useable, synthetic turf playfield thanks to a unique partnership between the Lake Washington School District, the City of Kirkland, and Google.  

The refreshed playfield will be used by Lakeview Elementary students for recess and gym during school hours. According to the Parks department, the City will make the field available to community user groups via their field allocation process; anticipated primary users for the City will be: Lacrosse from January-May, Lake Washington Youth Soccer from August-November, with the summer divided up depending on requests. Google employees will be able to use the field during remaining designated hours.

Walen & Nixon: We urge you to vote YES for ARC

The following message is from Mayor Amy Walen and Councilmember Toby Nixon:

As the November election for the Aquatic, Recreation and Community Center (ARC) approaches, some have asked why the Council chose to create a Metropolitan Park District (MPD) to build the ARC rather than a “traditional” bond.   The answer is that the MPD is the most cost effective and flexible tool to deliver the ARC that the Kirkland community has requested from us.    
In the fall of 2013 the City Council did not have an ARC ballot measure as a priority.  Then the Lake Washington School District informed the community it would not be replacing the Juanita Aquatic Center and might close the city’s only indoor pool as early as 2017.   Hundreds of residents showed up over the course of several Council meetings and asked the City Council to find a solution.   
The Council responded decisively but responsibly.   While an ARC has been requested by many residents since 2001, the Council wanted to be sure that the entire community shared this vision and saw it as a priority.  
Over the past two years the Council has invested $500,000 to evaluate potential public and private sites, identify preliminary cost estimates and identify potential programmatic elements through the Park Board and extensive public outreach.  Since the fall of 2013 the ARC has been reviewed by the Park Board seventeen times, the city has conducted three statistically valid surveys regarding the ARC, held eighteen workshops, presented at nine neighborhood meetings,  received thousands of responses to two virtual open houses, twice mailed information about the ARC to all households in Kirkland and the ARC has been a major topic at twelve Council meetings.   
The conclusions of this extensive outreach and analysis were both exciting and confounding.   The public overwhelmingly supported a first class combined aquatic, recreation and community center to serve children and seniors, residents and businesses. But the majority did not want to see current Kirkland parks lost to hosting the facility.   Many called for partnerships with neighboring cities, school districts, and non-profits.  The Council agreed and reached out to many organizations and held joint Council meetings with both Redmond and Bellevue about building a regional ARC together.  Not surprisingly, potential partners all want Kirkland voters to weigh in before making any commitments.  
A “traditional” bond is an expensive and risky way to meet the community desire for an ARC on private land.   A bond measure would require that the City own the property for the ARC and have an accurate estimate of the total costs.  The 7-9 acres of private land for the ARC will cost up to $20 million dollars.   The ARC design costs could range as high as another $5 million.   The City Council could not responsibly spend such staggering sums prior to knowing if the public really wanted the ARC.   While acquired land might be resold, millions in design costs would be lost if the public voted no.  And if the public voted yes, there would be no financial incentive for partners to contribute to a facility that has already been approved.   
Therefore the Council settled on the MPD as the most cost effective and flexible way to finance the ARC.   The MPD avoids the need to risk millions of dollars of upfront costs.  If the MPD passes,  the City can acquire land and find public and private partners to lower the overall cost.   MPD funds can be spent on joint facilities with Redmond or Bellevue which could save Kirkland taxpayers tens of millions prior to setting  the initial levy rate. 
Opponents have said “We want the ARC, just not by an MPD because future Councils can raise the MPD rates without a vote.”   This is true. But Kirkland has a strong history of Councils that listen to residents and serve the public interest.  If future Councils violate that trust, voters can and should replace them. If you truly want an ARC, vote yes in November.   This is the first chance voters have been given in 15 years.  No one can say when a vote on the ARC will come again.  Future Councils will face the same financing challenges we did.  It is hard to imagine they will reach different conclusions.  This Council prides itself on strong financial management.  We have earned a AAA credit rating.  We have received awards from both the Washington Coalition for Open Government and the State Auditor for our accountability and transparency.  We have been thorough and thoughtful in our work.  We are proposing an MPD to save taxpayers money and provide them a choice.  It is time to call the question.  We have presented an MPD to fund an ARC for the community, shaped by the community.   We urge you to vote yes. 

Amy Walen
Toby Nixon

Resident input sought on North Kirkland fire station plan at Oct. 12 community meeting and Oct. 20 public hearing

Citizens at council chambers sharing their views.

Citizens at council chambers sharing their views.

Kirkland residents and businesses will have two opportunities to learn about and comment on the current status of the proposed North Kirkland fire station. On Monday, October 12, 2015 representatives from the Fire Department and City Manager’s Office will give an update regarding the City’s plan for providing fire services in North Kirkland, the station siting process and funding the proposed new station.  Staff will also answer the community’s questions and take comments.  The community meeting will be held 7 to 9 p.m. at Finn Hill Middle School, 8040 NE 132nd Street. On Tuesday, October 20, 2015, the Kirkland City Council will hold a public hearing to consider two resolutions.  The first resolution clarifies language in an Interlocal Agreement between the City of Kirkland and the now-dissolved King County Fire Protection District #41 (FD #41) regarding the original intent of FD #41 assets to be applied to consolidating Fire Station 24 (Finn Hill) and Fire Station 25 (Holmes Point); both located in the Finn Hill neighborhood.  The City Council will accept public testimony at the public hearing regarding the proposal to allow FD #41 assets to be repurposed from the consolidation of the two fire stations to the “dual station” model which retains Fire Station (FS) 25 at its current location and proposes a new station be built near the intersection of NE 132nd Street and 100th Avenue Northeast to better serve the Finn Hill and Juanita Neighborhoods. Public testimony will be accepted during the Public Hearing scheduled to begin at approximately 7:30 p.m. or may be sent to by 5 p.m. on October 20, 2015.


A second resolution will describe the City’s short and long term plan for implementing the “dual station model” and implementing the recommendations of the Standards of Coverage study completed in 2012.  It also recommends suspending the barrier removal project in the proposed Capital Improvement Program in due to community concern and logistical challenges that have emerged through further analysis.


“The goal of the siting process has been to address response time gaps in the north end of the city, particularly on Finn Hill,” notes City Manager Kurt Triplett. “The City is committed to upholding the intent and investment of the Interlocal Agreement to improve service while satisfying the community’s desire for efficient fire and EMS response.” 


Prior to the 2011 annexation, the northern unincorporated area of Kirkland was served by three agencies.  FD #41 served the majority of the area (all within the annexation area) through a contract with the City of Kirkland Fire Department.  Woodinville Fire & Life Safety served the easternmost portion (Kingsgate) and Redmond Fire District #34 served a small area on the Kirkland/Redmond border. 


The Interlocal Agreement, enacted prior to the City annexing the Finn Hill, North Juanita and Kingsgate areas in 2011, described how FD #41 funds were to be used to enhance levels of fire service and emergency medical response. In addition, the Interlocal Agreement established City’s assumption of outstanding projects and programs that were not completed prior to annexation.  The Fire Strategic Plan and fire station consolidation plan were two such projects that the City intended to complete. A summary of project highlights in contained in the September 15, 2015 memo to the City Council (PDF).


The Fire Strategic Plan, approved by the City Council in 2013, identified ways fire and EMS service could be improved to the northwest (Finn Hill area) area of the City. A companion study, Standards of Coverage and Deployment Plan (PDF), recommended keeping FS 25/Holmes Point open at its present location and building a new station closer to the intersection of 100th Avenue and NE 132nd Street.  It further recommended moving FS 27 (Totem Lake) to a new location east of I-405 which would address a response time gap in northeast Kingsgate area.  


For background information on the proposed North Kirkland fire station, go to         

LETTER | Should voters prioritize the ARC vs. schools? Can we realistically do both?

The Lake Washington School District Long-Term Facilities Planning Task Force recently published their draft recommendations.  I credit them for thinking through a variety of solutions that would limit the need to present a significant bond/levy ask to voters.  Nevertheless, it appears likely that some form of tax increase will need to be presented to voters to address aging facilities and increased student enrollment.  (you can review the draft materials at:
For me, this raises the question of how many tax increases voters will be willing to tolerate, and specifically if committing ourselves to pay potentially $375 per year (on a $500K house) for the ARC, in perpetuity and increasing in step with property value increases, will make it much more difficult for the school district to ask Kirkland voters* to fund another tax increase for needed school growth and repairs/remodels/construction.

In an ideal scenario, both Prop 1 and a school funding measure would be on the ballot at the same time, so voters could appropriately prioritize their decision making.

My vote “no” on the ARC will in part be a statement of prioritization that an aquatics center is optional whereas addressing school growth (in fiscally responsible fashion) is much higher on my priority list.

I personally think it would be a discredit to Kirkland if we had a new pool complex, but had students in portables and parents dealing with boundary changes because there was no further tolerance for tax increases to fund school facilities after the ARC is approved.

As always, I write this with respect for opposing viewpoints and hope to learn others’ viewpoints through the comments.


Pat Wilburn

* School levies/bonds are voted on by the entire LWSD geography, versus the ARC/MPD as a ballot measure to be funded only by Kirkland property owners.

Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop Opens in Downtown Kirkland

Just in time for Halloween, the 60+ strong chain of sweets and treats known as Rocket Fizz has opened in downtown Kirkland at 120 Central Way. Upon entering the candy emporium, one cannot help but be filled with nostalgia and memories of one's youth as the aisles are filled with candies from many decades ago (the retro wall coverings help set the mood too).

The Rocket Fizz brand of soda pop is what this place is known for so be sure to try one out. We opted for the Rowdy Roddy Piper Bubble Gum Soda after passing on the Wink Martindale's Orange Passion Fruit Guava Soda and another one featuring the mug of Judge Wapner.

What is this place really like? Think of it as a cross between the old candy shoppe in the Willy Wonka movie from the 1970's and an Archie McFee's. A fun place to stop by and take a gander. And I'll bet you walk home with a treat from your past.

Check 'em out.

Learn more at