A New Teen Center, an Umbrella Attack, and Stalled City Council Expansion

A weekly recap of news from around King County.

• After two years of planning, the work put into crafting a space for teenagers in Issaquah is about to pay off.

At its April 16 regular meeting, the Issaquah City Council unanimously approved a lease agreement to allow Issaquah Teen Cafe and Friends of Youth to operate its new teen cafe and service center, The Garage, at a city-owned building at 235 First Avenue S.E.

Issaquah Teen Cafe Director KayLee Jaech said the space will be used as a gathering place for local teenagers who may not be drawn to other extracurricular activities. “We started working on this about two and a half years ago as a committee, just trying to create a place where high-school students can come and find a connection if they are not finding some through sports, work, or school,” Jaech said.

The program, modeled after Redmond’s Old Fire House Teen Center, is designed to offer a safe place for teens to meet with friends and access teen-centered programming and services such as counseling and tutoring. “Any program that takes place there has been developed and implemented by the youth; instead of adults telling them what they should be doing, this is a place for them to own and create,” Jaech said.

Issaquah Teen Cafe is a community group started in 2015 to work on teen activities and programming. For this project, ITC partnered with Friends of Youth as a fiscal sponsor and together submitted a request to the city to allow them to use a space for their teen center. The Council was unanimous in their support for the lease agreement, with each Councilmember talking about the positive impact a service like this will have on the community.

Jaech said that the next steps, submitting permits and working on plans with an architect for a small renovation, are already underway. She expects to hear back on the permits within the next months, which is also the time frame in which city staff would be moving out of that office.

“The hope is we are open, with limited hours, in the summer so we can have tours for the community and parents,” she said. “Once school opens in September, we will have our grand opening.” Issaquah-Sammamish Reporter

• Kent Police arrested a 21-year-old Auburn man Saturday after he reportedly struck a man with an umbrella and destroyed a sign during a protest outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic on the East Hill. Officers responded to the incident near the Kent Valley Health Center on Saturday morning, according to an email from Kent Police spokesman Jarod Kasner.

A group of a couple dozen people were rallying against taxpayer money going to the clinic, which, among many other services, provides abortions. The Respect Life Committee from St. Stephen the Martyr Catholic Church in Renton organized the protest, according to its website.

A witness told officers that a man walked toward the people who were holding signs and began yelling at them, Kasner said. “The witness saw the suspect grab one of the signs and rip it apart … When the victim, a 75-year-old Renton man, attempted to grab the wooden handle from the sign that was now in the street, the witness said that he saw the suspect use his umbrella and strike the victim in the neck.” The witness told police that nobody in the group provoked the man.

The Renton man had redness on his neck but told officers he didn’t need any medical attention.

Officers located the Auburn man at a bus stop near the protest. “He admitted to yelling at the demonstrators, but denied breaking the sign,” Kasner said. “The suspect claimed the victim grabbed the stick [the handle of the sign] and threatened him with it, so he swung at him with his umbrella.” Kent Reporter

• The forested gravel driveway of the Kneeshaw House crosses bubbling Judd Creek and diverges into a clearing where volunteers busily cut away at ivy, holly, and other invasive plants on April 21.

Willed to the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust by islander Mike Kneeshaw before he died in 2016, this was one of the final stops on the weeklong Earth Action Tour, part of the second Earth Day celebration, which saw many islanders turn out for speakers, a fair, and a raffle at Vashon High School late last month. Away from the larger crowds and host to events such as bird-box building and forage fish-egg processing with the Vashon Nature Center, the Kneeshaw House is starting to bloom.

“Mike never said anything to me about this gift. He just did it, which was kind of cool and kind of shocking,” said Tom Dean, executive director of the Land Trust. The Kneeshaw donation, totalling nine acres, is a significant chapter in the story of the Judd Creek Preserve, which Dean says is currently the Land Trust’s most active habitat restoration project.

Early on, the Land Trust settled on the idea of turning the house into a community center—a hall for meetings, classes, or retreats—as well as establishing it as a potential base for interns and Land Trust partners. “We’re not sure what the demand for that will be. We’re still trying to gear up for the renovation,” said Dean, who noted that basic administration of the house as a community space is still in planning stages, lacking a fee structure or calendar of availability. “We want to have some open space around the house for outdoor events. Maybe groups want to throw a fundraiser there, or we might use the lawn space to camp if we have groups coming out.”

Dean says the Land Trust will determine the best way to use the house along the way. “It will be in part about habitat and in part about community use. We’re sort of in the real experimental mode, and we will be farther along when it gets opened up. It’s not really in prime time yet,” he said. Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

• A plan to expand the Black Diamond City Council to seven members has stalled.

The idea was first seriously broached by Councilwoman Janie Edelman during the April 5 Council meeting, but was stopped in its tracks just two weeks later. “We’re now in the next few months going to start looking into our budget cycle, and I think it would be in our best interest as a city council to have two new members approved and sitting on the Council when we go into the budget cycle,” Edelman said at that early-April meeting. “Budgets are confusing, and I think that would be in our best interest.”

There’s also a legal aspect to expanding the Council: Once Black Diamond’s population hits 5,000, state law requires the Council to grow to seven members. At the moment, the city’s population is just above 4,000, but houses in Oakpointe’s developments in the city are being built quickly, and the first resident is expected to start calling Black Diamond home by summer.

Feedback on Edelman’s idea was positive, and the Council directed City Attorney David Linehan to draft an ordinance to bring back to the Council. But when the ordinance came up during the April 19 meeting, the majority seemed to have changed their minds.

Councilmember Tamie Deady said she would like to see a work study to better examine the pros and cons of expanding the Council at this time, and to gather more public opinion on the matter. She added that appointing two new members to the Council would most likely be a “huge burden” on city staff, since they would then have five relatively new members, including recently elected Councilmembers Melissa Oglesbee and Erin Stout and recently appointed Councilmember Chris Wisnoski, to work with. The Courier-Herald