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Many streets, parks on Kent repair list under levy measure

Kent city officials plan to replace the swimming and fishing docks at Lake Meridian Park in 2013 if voters approve a property tax increase. - STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter
Kent city officials plan to replace the swimming and fishing docks at Lake Meridian Park in 2013 if voters approve a property tax increase.
— image credit: STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

The bumps in Kent city roads and play fields could get much worse and costlier to fix if voters don't pass a property tax increase in November to pay for street and park repairs.

That's the message being spread by Tim LaPorte, public works director, and Jeff Watling, parks director.

LaPorte oversees the roads and has watched them get worse and worse with a lack of money dedicated to fixing them.

"I'm not a naysayer, I'm the messenger," LaPorte said during a phone interview. "The cost would be many times more later."

The City Council voted 4-3 on July 31 to send  a six-year property tax levy increase to voters on the Nov. 6 ballot. The increase of 37 cents per $1,000 assessed property value would cost the owner of a $350,000 home about $111 per year.

The levy would raise about $29 million over six years, $18.3 million for parks and $10.7 million for streets as 23 cents per $1,000 would go to parks each year and 14 cents per $1,000 to streets. The levy would expire after six years. The measure will require a simple majority for approval.

"The streets are simply worn out," LaPorte said.

The measure will list the specific park and street projects to be paid for by the property tax increase.

Most of the street repairs will require an asphalt overlay. If there are sidewalks, wheelchair ramps will be added if not already present. Streets without sidewalks might or might not get new sidewalks depending on the project because sidewalks are so expensive to build.

"The primary mission is to improve the street surface," LaPorte said. "The majority have sidewalks. Some, such as 132nd Avenue, do not. But it is a road resurfacing project.

"The streets are falling apart. They look their best now when the sun melts the tar and they heat up. They look their worst in the winter after a thaw. That's when they look like oatmeal mush."

LaPorte said residential streets can last 15 to 20 years before needing repairs while roads in the Valley used by trucks to access the warehouse district wear out after 10 to 12 years. Many of Kent's streets were built in the 1980s and 1990s when the city grew rapidly.

Street repairs would be spread out around town in the Valley, on the East Hill and on the West Hill.

"We've got them all over the city and we'll repair them all over rather than only the Valley or East Hill," LaPorte said.

Many of the repairs are scheduled along 132nd Avenue Southeast, a major north-south route on the East Hill. South 212th Street, a major east-west route, needs work but isn't on the list.

"South 212th is not included because it would cost more than $9 million," LaPorte said. "It's seven-lanes wide."

The wider the road, the more it costs to repair. That's the reason the repair list includes only a couple of streets in the first and second year and as many as 14 streets in the third year. If the city repairs a wide stretch such as the proposed Southeast 196th Street from 108th Avenue Southeast to 124th Avenue Southeast, the money goes away quickly.

Several street repairs, including stretches of 132nd Avenue Southeast, are planned in the Panther Lake area, which annexed to the city in 2010. LaPorte said King County officials decided not to repair roads in the Panther Lake area when Kent started plans to annex nearly 24,000 new residents.

"We inherited $3 million in projects that the county took out," LaPorte said.

Kent's many parks also are wearing out, according to city officials.

Watling, the parks director, said a system of 55 parks, many built in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, now need repairs.

"What came out very clear from conversations with the citizens group is we have a park system the community is very proud of and has been invested in over the last 30 to 40 years but like a lot park systems it is showing its age," said Watling in an interview last month before the council vote.

Park projects:

• Year One

Wilson Playfields Renovation, replace synthetic turf; West Fenwick, replace play equipment, refurbish drainage.

• Year One and Two

Lake Meridian Phase I, replace deteriorated swimming, fishing dock.

• Year Two and Three

Lake Fenwick Phase I, replace floating walkway and eastern stairs, repave middle parking lot, pave boat launch and disc golf course parking lot and improve trail connections.

• Year Three

Russell Road Park Renovation Phase I, resurface several parking lots and replace play structure; Green River Corridor Master Plan.

• Year Three and Four

Green River Corridor Improvements Phase I, construct Kent Valley Loop Trail improvements and renovate Van Doren's Park.

• Year Four

Mill Creek Earthworks Redevelopment Phase II, complete drainage improvements, replace two sets of stairs and redevelop trail system.

• Year Four and Five

Springwood Park Renovation to Community Park

• Year Six

Russell Road Field Conversion, convert Field One (3.5 acres) to multi-use synthetic turf, reconfigure pathways and lighting and replace restroom building.

Street projects:

• Year One

SE 196th Street from 108th Ave SE to 124th Ave SE

132nd Avenue SE from SE 288th St. to Kent-Kangley Road

• Year Two

124th Ave SE from SE 270th St. to SE 248th St.

132nd Ave SE from Kent-Kangley Road to SE 256th St.

• Year Three

Reith Road from State Route 516 to Military Road S.

South 253rd St. from Reith Road to 42nd Ave. S.

42nd Ave. S. from S. 253rd St. to S. 247th St.

43rd Ave. S. from S. 252nd St. to South 245th Ct.

S. 252nd St. from 42nd Ave. S. to 43rd Ave. S.

S. 251st St. from 42nd Ave. S. to 43rd Ave. S.

S. 250th St. from 42nd Ave. S. to 43rd Ave. S.

S. 249th St. from 42nd Ave. S. to 43rd Ave. S.

S. 248th St. from 42nd Ave. S. to 43rd Ave. S.

S. 247th Ct. from 43rd Ave. S. to end of street

S. 247th St. from 42nd Ave. S. to 43rd Ave. S.

S. 246th Ct. from 43rd Ave. S. to end of street

97th Pl. S. from SE 260th St. to SR 516

104th Ave. SE from SE 267th St. to SE 264th St.

• Year Four

S. 260th St./S. 259th Pl. from Pacific Hwy to Military

25th Ave. S. from S. 260th St. to end of street

38th Ave. S. from Reith to Military Road

S. 257th St. from 36th Pl. S. to 38th Ave.

36th Pl. S. from S 257th St to S. 255th Pl.

S. 255th Pl. from 36th Pl. S. to 38th Ave. S.

S. 256th Ct. from 38th Ave. S. to end of street

S. 254th Pl. from 38th Ave. S. to 38th Pl S.

38th Pl. S. from S. 255th Pl. to S. 254th Pl.

S. 255th Pl. from 38th Pl. S. to 39th Pl. S.

S. 254th Pl. from 38th Pl. S. to 39th Pl. S.

39th Pl. S. from S. 255th Pl. S. to S. 254th Pl.

S. 254th Pl. from 36th Pl. S. to 38th Ave.S.

36th Pl. S. from S. 254th Pl. to S. 253rd St.

South 253rd St. from 36th Pl. S. to 38th Ave. S.

• Year Five

132nd Ave. SE from SE 240th St. to SE 228th Pl.

132nd Ave. SE from SE 218th Pl. to SE 208th St.

• Year Six

Portions of SE 208th St. from 96th Way S. to 116th Ave. SE

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