Snow storms, Canada geese & state of city considered by SeaTac City Council

By Jack Mayne

Mayor Erin Sitterley on Tuesday night (Feb. 26) gave a belated state of the city address — belated because it had been slated for the the Feb. 12 meeting, a night the Council could not meet because of the snow storm which closed the city government for a few days.

But first, she touched on the storm that meant 12 hour shifts and over a thousand meals to keep workers going.

The Council also referred back to committee a proposed contract to control the number of Canada geese at Angle Lake Park.

Storm control
“I want to thank our dedicated city staff, especially our public works and parks maintenance staff, who tirelessly worked 12 hour around the clock shifts throughout the storm, or should I say storms, to make our roads safe and passable given the severe conditions that they faced.”

The mayor said the new city manager, Carl Cole, “knows and understands our city from the years of service a police officer and as your police chief,” said the mayor. “I know he will skillfully guide us moving forward.”

She said she drove around the area and into adjacent cities and “I found our roads to be in the best shape.”

Cole said the city used 261 tons of sand and purchased another 194 tons ton keep the city supplied for the future. The city also covered streets with 23,073 gallons of salt brine to prevent pavements from becoming slippery due to ice. The city also sold “almost 49,000 gallons of brine to our surrounding cities.”

He said the 12-hour shifts meant hungry city workers. “They ate 1,018 meals – it takes a lot of fuel to keep these guys going on 12-hour shifts.”

State of the city
“I am very honored to represent the city as your mayor and I am extremely proud that the state of our city is strong,” Sitterley said in what she billed as a state of the city address. “I am also proud to be on this Council with these kind and caring individuals.”

She said the city is moving in a positive financial direction and other communities “are actually looking at SeaTac as an example of how to efficiently use your resources.” Because of hard work, the city public services and programs have been improved “without increasing the tax burden” of residents. “An example of this is that we have not raised property taxes in three years.”

Sitterley said the city has built up its reserve, or “rainy day fund” to cover about four month of city operating expenses “and this is our cushion in case of an economic downturn – it’s when, the economy always takes a downturn.” She also said that emergencies can be covered by the fund.

“A culture of careful stewardship has been built into our city and that provides us long-term financial security,” the mayor said.

Public safety is also a major concern, she said, noting the city has hired six added police officers “and they are now on staff patrolling, keeping our neighborhoods safe.”

She said the pilot project for the new residential parking program for is being implemented “providing much needed relief to our residents living closest to the airport.” If it is viewed as successful, it could me deployed in any area of the city impacted by Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. She thanked the residents who kept pushing for the program that “helped the city.”

“The Community Services Advisory Committee spent countless hours last year reviewing service provider requests and chose non-profit agencies that best meet our local service needs,” Sitterley said. “Funds were directed to longterm and basic needs as well as education and training and also supporting our local businesses.”

The airport
“You may have heard that almost half of the land in SeaTac is taken up by an international airport with a similar name,” the mayor said with a grin. “Sea-Tac Airport is our largest and most complex neighbor and it’s also our largest economic neighbor,” the mayor said. “It’s an interesting and unique relationship and, at times, has been a difficult and contentious relationship.”

“But that has changed for the better,” she said, noting the city and the airport are “moving ahead together with some common goals and a new way to live together in our little city.” She said she was happy to recognize the first anniversary of the signing of a 10-year local agreement between the city and the airport which provides “nearly $30 million revenue to the city, including city relief funds which our city is primarily using to support pubic safety and traffic management over this next decade.”

Sitterley said as the airport grows, “we understand the need for more housing for our folks” so they can “live where they work and stay in their hometown when they retire.” To meet the need the city will be adding “hundreds of new units of affordable and market rate new housing over the next few years,” mainly near the light rail stations.

The mayor said the city is poised to grow and develop “in a very positive way.”

Canada Geese Control
The Council was asked to participate in a plan to continue an areawide management to control the number of Canada Geese at Angle Lake Park because it appears to be growing in the area, said SeaTac parks project manager Mike Fitzpatrick (pictured above). He said the ongoing program would allow “utilizing a combination of non-lethal techniques and small, isolated roundups when necessary.”

After discussion, the Council unanimously referred it back to committee for further discussion.

In some cases the geese are killed off to control numbers and addling of the goose eggs to prevent increased numbers which one councilmember said was “like abortion.” Fitzpatrick said he is aware of one time when 12 to 14 birds were euthanized. Usual tactics are to annoy the birds with sounds or actions so they leave the area.

The control of the birds would minimize damage to property, and contamination of water quality, lessen conflict between the geese and park patrons and to minimize the potential hazard of geese damaging planes landing and taking off at Sea-Tac airport.

The yearly cost of the proposed five-year contract is $2,664 a year, he said.

Councilmember Pam Fernald wanted the matter referred back to a Council committee for more detailed explanation of the project and detailed answers from Fitzpatrick, who said the issue was not time sensitive and could be held up for more information and discussion “because it is sensitive to some people.”

Fernald said she wanted more input from citizens and put back into committee. She had not attended the previous committee meeting because of a hospital stay.

Councilmember Stanley Tombs expressed concern.

“If we were talking about shooting these birds for hunting, we would be up in arms destroying these poor precious birds but yet, by bureaucratic actions we are going something just as dramatic to the birds if not more so in the name of population control.” Tombs told Fitzpatrick.

The mayor presented a certificate of appreciation to former Planning Commission Member Stanley Tombs who was appointed to replace Councilmember Amina Ahmed who died in a recent traffic accident. Tombs was replaced on the planning commission by the Council appointment of Jagtar Saroya to the commission.


2 Responses to “Snow storms, Canada geese & state of city considered by SeaTac City Council”
  1. Kathie Brave says:

    I just ask that you be very careful as to what you do with the Canadian Geese. They mate for life.

  2. Janice Taylor says:

    Snow removal? Not on 22nd Ave S north of the Community Center for over a week.

    As for the geese, let’s not get too sentimental. We’ve created an environment where the geese do not migrate, and they love our safe, open lawns. We’ve chased out the predators that naturally checked the population. We don’t even let the dogs chase them. So unless you want some foxes or coyotes patrolling Angle Lake, let the experts do their jobs.