Lingerie football and red lights: hot-button items at Kent town hall

Richard Baker complains Thursday to the Kent City Council about lingerie football coming to the ShoWare Center

Richard Baker complains Thursday to the Kent City Council about lingerie football coming to the ShoWare Center

Residents gave the Kent City Council an earful at a Town Hall meeting Thursday, with comments about lingerie football, a proposed seven-story apartment complex, bike paths, speeders, red-light runners, developer fees and dirty sidewalks.

More than 40 residents packed the training room at Kent Fire Station No. 74 on the East Hill to share their concerns.

Resident Richard Baker criticized the booking of two Seattle Mist women’s Lingerie Football League games Sept. 11 and Jan. 1 at the city-owned ShoWare Center.

“I want to know how you schedule events for the ShoWare,” Baker said. “I think people will go to that event hoping for a wardrobe malfunction. I thought the ShoWare events were supposed to focus on families.”

Council President Debbie Raplee responded that SMG, which runs the arena, decides which events to book.

“It was brought in for entertainment,” Raplee said of the arena. “We don’t operate it. We hired SMG to bring in the shows.”

Councilman Ron Harmon said the Council has no veto power over the booking of lingerie football or any other event at the ShoWare.

“I feel we should review the contract (with SMG) so we have some kind of input,” Harmon said.

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke walked up from her seat in the audience to the front of the room to share her reaction when she first heard that the Lingerie Football League showed an interest in playing in Kent.

“I had no sense of it being sexy with all of the gear,” Cooke said of the uniforms, which include lacy bras and underwear, along with a helmet and pads. “I saw it as much less exposure than beach volleyball.”

Cooke said she read the numerous letters to the editor that criticized the sport coming to Kent.

“Lingerie means much more to people than I ever thought,” Cooke said. “My approach is we want a civic center we can be proud of. I didn’t see it as that big of a deal.”

Resident John McGarvey pointed out that it would be difficult for anyone to decide which events should or should not be allowed at the ShoWare Center.

“We want people to come here and spend money,” McGarvey said. “If we turn off lingerie football then maybe we turn off pro wrestling and then where do we draw the line at what we permit or not? If there is an equipment malfunction, then maybe we don’t renew their contract. But it looks like they’ll have a lot of pads on and not just be out there running around in bikinis.”

Resident Carolyn Clayton told the Council she found out last week at a Mill Creek neighborhood meeting that Mondo Land Development, of Seattle, wants to build a seven-story apartment complex on East Smith Street across from the Kent Senior Center.

“That does not fit in an older neighborhood,” said Clayton, whose house was built in 1953. “It would be big and ugly and not fit in with the city at all.”

Robert Slattery, of Mondo Land Development, told the city Planning and Economic Development Committee earlier this month that his company wants to build a 170-unit apartment complex.

“We’re gathering information to see how that project fits or doesn’t fit,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Albertson said to Clayton.

A couple of residents told the Council they would like to see more east-west bicycle lanes, especially going up the East Hill where many residents live.

“It is a funding issue,” Councilwoman Deborah Ranniger said about additional bicycle paths. “But one of our goals as a Council is for the city to be more sustainable, and getting out of cars to use bikes fits that.”

One resident complained that broken glass often covers part of the bike lane up the Canyon Road/Smith Street hill. Another resident said dirty sidewalks were a problem along Southeast 272nd Street by Lake Meridian. Yet another resident complained about illegal dumping, such as old couches, at the dead end of his street near 114th Avenue Southeast.

City staff at the meeting told the residents they can call the public works operations department at 253-856-5600 to tell them about broken glass on roads or dumped debris on streets and city crews will come out to clean up the mess.

Other topics of discussion included requests for more police enforcement to catch speeding vehicles down the West Hill along South 228th Street; a suggestion that the city should add cameras to help catch red-light runners at Kent-Kangley Road and other intersections; a protest of a Local Improvement District to charge property owners for road improvements along Southeast 256th Street; and an objection to a proposed transportation impact fee on developers to help pay for the city’s Transportation Master Plan.

It was the Council’s third and final scheduled Town Hall meeting over the last six months. The meetings are designed as an informal way for residents to express their concerns to the city’s elected body.

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