Opinion

Kent's 'flood wall' provides economic stability, safety | Keikkala

I would like to thank the King County Executive Committee members for passing the recommendation to move forward on the city of Kent's "flood wall" design for the Briscoe-Desimone Levee.

A special thanks to Councilmember Julia Patterson as she spoke so passionately and with great understanding of the issue citing financial, business and environmental positives to City of Kent's plan.

We appreciate that the Flood Control Zone District is trying to balance the work of achieving maximum flood protection while also moving forward with levee upgrades that can meet the test of being certified and accredited to provide assurance to thousands of businesses in the Valley.We are proud to be business owners, managers and employers in the sixth-largest city in the state.

Our commitment to community growth and improvement is part of what makes our community strong and successful. Our concern centers on the levees that are needed for flood protection of the Green River Valley, a manufacturing and warehousing hub that is the second largest of its kind on the West Coast, and which hosts economic activity and jobs accounting for one-eighth of the state's gross domestic product (GOP).

I want to reiterate the need to take action in favor of the Kent plan due to the following reasons:

• It is imperative to the business community that we take immediate steps to ensure Briscoe-Desimone and other levees along the Green River are certified. This has direct and significant implications for flood mapping, for insurance costs, for development and redevelopment costs, and for the health and well-being of the manufacturing and warehousing businesses in the valley.

• We helped with the successful $7 million appropriation for Briscoe-Desimone levee upgrades, and want to ensure those dollars are put to work, as soon as possible, on levee improvements that can yield construction jobs and both protect and maximize the tens of thousands of jobs in Kent, Renton and Tukwila that depend on the structural integrity of that levee reach.

• We completely support the longterm objective of flood protection for levees along the Green River, but given limited and finite financial resources, we ask that levees first be certified and accredited while we continue to strive toward this long-term goal.

The Kent Chamber of Commerce and the city of Kent have worked extensively on this issue. After numerous meetings on this topic we are in agreement that immediate construction of the "flood wall" design is at the highest priority in providing economic stability and safety in the Green River Valley. Thank you in advance for your willingness to hear our concerns and consider this approach to addressing the levees along the Green River, in particular the Briscoe-Desimone levee reach.

Andrea Keikkala is executive director for the Kent Chamber of Commerce. Reach her at 253-854-1770, ext. 140, or andreak@kentchamber.com.

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