Liberty Lake is a Safe, Clean, Green, Well-run and Financially Secure community that has the amenities that we all seek — Parks, Trails, Schools, Greenspace and great infrastructure in our roads and utilities. Liberty Lake is bicycle friendly, dog friendly, pedestrian conscious and loves embellishing the alternate transportation of golf carts. Liberty Lake has the perfect mix of diversified Housing connected by neighborhood greenspace in its Parks, Trails and Golf Courses. Our business community consists of National companies and local Retail, Restaurants, Large, Small and entrepreneurial Office space with a good share of light industrial manufacturing mixed in to provide good paying jobs and stable sales tax revenue. Finally, we have a wonderful, diverse, highly educated population that works together to achieve a healthy and friendly community.
A SAFE COMMUNITY
Fortunate to recognize a need for 24 hr. protection at incorporation as your 1st Mayor, I made the commitment to establish our own Police Department. I also had the foresight to hire Brian Asmus to lead in this endeavor. Over the years, I have hired almost all of the officers who serve us today. I have been at the forefront ensuring that the Police Department had all the tools to be successful. From take-home cars, constant training and communication / video gear that gives them extended eyes and ears to the community. We have expanded video coverage in all of our public property and are working to ensure its availability can be viewed in our patrol cars. I have most recently worked with Chief Asmus to update the 6-year Liberty Lake Police Department Strategic Plan which lays out our commitment for the future of police services.
Having our own Police Department is only part of our safe story. It is also you who live in our community. The wholesome family life, our senior citizens who step up to support our youth, the churches and service organizations and finally the Homeowners Associations that bind us all together to help set expectations and the care for the well-being of our neighborhoods. We are nice to each other and respectful of our individuality and our likeness. Cognizant of our diversity.
TRANSPORTATION IN OUR COMMUNITY
I am very proud of our accomplishments in maintaining and growing our transportation network in the City. Building the Pedestrian Bridge in 2003 which enhanced our trail system was a huge task for our new city but we got it done. In 2006 we began planning for Henry Road and in 2015 I was able to get Barker, Henry and Harvard secure funding in the Connect Washington Legislation. In 2019 session, I was able to move this funding forward from 2029 so we can begin construction in the 2019-2020 construction season. In 2012, I created a road map for our streets to maintain and enhance their life span. By using your utility tax funds exclusive to streets and for match money, we have built (3) roundabouts, rebuilt Liberty Lake Road, rebuilt Appleway, overlaid Molter, overlaid Valley way, resurfaced the Heights area, and created new stop lights at Signal and soon Madson intersections. In 2019, we anticipate receiving TIB funding for Liberty Lake Road south of Country Vista which leaves only Mission and Country Vista to do in the next 2 years. By creating our own street department, we now have full year maintenance and operations so the streets are maintained in the good weather and plowed in the bad. I have hired a new engineer Scott Bernhard who is well versed in Liberty lake issues and has a terrific understanding of delivering multimillion-dollar transportation projects. One of his projects was the Pedestrian Bridge which we use daily in Liberty Lake. Working with our City Administrator Katy Allen, Scott has been a huge help in laying out the time line of implementing the Harvard to Barker corridor project with WSDOT.
In 2012, I was able to make sure that the city had permanent representation on the Spokane Regional Transportation Council Board. During these past seven years my peers recognized my expertise in Transportation and elected me to be the Chair and Vice- Chair of the Board and serve on Administrative Committee.
A FINANCIALLY SECURE COMMUNITY
The City has outstanding finances. During my terms of office, we have exceeded expectations year over year. We started with $ 0 in the bank in 2001 and today we have approximately $6 million dollars in the general fund and reserve accounts, approximately $12 million in our LIFT Account for infrastructure on the north of I-90 and we own approximately $15 million in real estate. Our total debt for the city will stand at $ 84,000 dollars by the end 2019 and it will be to be paid off in 2020. As your Mayor, I have found new sources of city revenue through grants, aquafer protection money, increasing developer mitigation traffic fees and restructure of our garbage contracts. I have also reviewed how we deliver services to our citizens and restructured our departments and personnel to achieve the most efficient and effective means to deliver those services to you.
AN EDUCATED COMMUNITY
Working with Ben Small Superintendent of Central Valley School, we have been able to pass construction bonds to build Liberty Creek (K-2), Selkirk Middle School and fast track a stalled new high school by moving it inside the Liberty Lake City boundary. Ridgeline High School will come online Fall of 2021. Working together with CVSD, we are doing a Country Vista corridor analysis of traffic to site lights and roundabouts appropriately to insure safe traffic flow and access. We began sharing cost in ground keeping for the ball fields and their elementary school yards. We have partnered in Orchard Park for the new tennis courts. We will be partnering in some Library services and will provide a resource officers in the new schools. We stay committed to promote drug awareness programs in our elementary schools.
Job creation leads to a sustainable community. In 2012 at Meadowood Tech there was 1 person working. Now we have almost five thousand. The old Safeco building at Appleway and Liberty Lake road stood empty. Today it is full. Good paying jobs allow people to buy homes in Liberty Lake and that leads to economic vitality on our local retail sales. Those small business that contribute to Liberty Lake wholeness of service invigorate our life style and community. Growing our employment base with high paying jobs allow other business to succeed like the Restaurants, Auto and RV dealers, Home Depot, Banks, Health and Dental Care on which the city depends. These past 8 years have been good but the future I believe will only become brighter as we build upon the next wave of job creation.
We continue to market our cluster of businesses and existing industrial properties to business that have become tired of high tax states, traffic and congestion in their current local or those who just want their employees to enjoy more from life than just work and traffic. Working with Greater Spokane Incorporated and Spokane Valley Chamber, I have focused on how we can Attract, Keep and Grow businesses.
ACTIVITIES, RECREATION, CELEBRATION and COMMUNITY INFASTRUCTURE
In 2018, I put forward the ordinance creating the Liberty Lake Parks and Arts Commission. Their mission being to ensure coordination of activities in our three major parks, adopt art as a basic enhancement to our community, make sure we have fields and facilities that fill the need of local sports while building on and grow the activities that Friends of Pavillion Park have established over the years. Our partnership with the Sky Hawks sports camp, Barefoot in the Park, the HUB, Rotary’s in Motion Bicycle ride, Windemere Marathon, and Soap Box Derby, Riverview Baseball, Farmers Market, 4th of July Fireworks and Concerts. Pickleball, Liberty Lake Tennis and ALL of the movies truly make Liberty Lake a special place to live.
Community infrastructure of our parks and trails need to be maintained and enhanced. We need to continue by building a master plan golf cart map, expanding the bike lanes to accommodate those carts, build trails on Kramer Parkway to Mission connecting north and south at the new crossover bridge and look for an opportunity to site a new Dog Park.
HOUSING CHOICES IN LIBERTY LAKE ARE ABUNDANT
At the legislature in 2019, I testified and communicated to legislators the need for new legislation to remove the restrictions on condominium development. Condo development, not apartments, allow the pride of home ownership that is affordable and market driven as Seniors downsize and Millennials grow into home owners. Both of these groups desire housing that offers low maintenance and daily care. Having a diversity of home ownership opportunities allows us to stay in Liberty Lake as our families grow or as we age. This diversity of housing allows us to meet a wide range of housing needs.
For most of us, a large part of our savings lies in the value that we have in our home. Home values in Liberty Lake hold their value do in part by our broad range of community amenities. I ask people, are you better off today than 4-8 years ago and the answer is absolutely. Why? Because people find out that their home increased in value year over year. An example is a friend of mine who owned a home valued at $ 300,000 in 2012 is now assessed at over $400,000. A 33% increase in value is just another reason Liberty Lake amenity are so important to all of us! All of this takes place as we invest in and take care of “our place called home”
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Liberty Lake Gazette.