Pierce County Councilmember Terry Lee answered questions during an open forum March 11 at the Key Center Library. The Key Peninsula Community Council sponsored the forum and 30 residents were in attendance.
Proposed cuts to Pierce Transit bus service, the new traffic light and intersection improvements for Key Center, snow removal from roads, a welcome sign for the KP, trails, acquisition of Devil’s Head, and the County budget were some of the issues discussed.
Shanice Hrouda voiced her concerns about the loss of Bus Plus and bus service between Key Center and Home. Lee, who sits on the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners, responded, “Pierce Transit revenues come from sales tax which has declined significantly. Proposals from the staff are being considered which would delete Bus Plus and service to Home, and add service to the new hospital in Purdy.
“The Pierce Transit Commissioners are very resistant to deleting service, but something has to be done to balance the budget. A vote on the various options before us may happen as soon as the April Transit meeting.”
Mike Baum was concerned about the new traffic light in Key Center. “The KP Community Plan calls for ‘traffic calming’ devices to slow traffic”, said Baum. “While the objective of the traffic engineers is to speed up traffic flow. A 4- way stop sign might be more appropriate for pedestrian safety.”
Lee suggested the community council poll residents and get the results to him in the next month or two because grant money has already been received and spent for engineering and land acquisition for the traffic light.
Claude Gahard was concerned that road crews removed snow from arterials, but not on secondary roads, limiting access to roads for a lot of residents. Gahard proposed a list of local contractors to be called upon to supplement the county road crew at such times. “We’ve looked at this in the past,” Lee said. “The problem has been that only one contractor responded to our solicitations, requesting to be placed on such a list. And then he requested to be taken off the list when he discovered the high cost of insurance and bonding required. We will keep looking for a way that this will work.”
Tara Froode asked if the county could help with her group’s efforts to install a sign near the Purdy Spit welcoming people to the Key Peninsula.
“I’m familiar with the location that you have in mind,“ said Lee. “I’m not only sure that we can make it happen, but I believe that I can provide funds for the sign.” Chris Fitzgrerald asked what could be done to support a system of trails on the KP.
“I am a member of the Board for Forever Green, a foundation primarily concerned with trails throughout Pierce County,” Lee said. “I will continue work to support them.”
A resident near Devil’s Head stated that the current owner of Devil’s Head has been harvesting trees and mining gravel, and inquired what could be done to preserve this piece of land and keep it from being destroyed.
“The owner has a timber harvesting permit issued by the state”, said Lee. “The county is working with the owner and with a land conservancy foundation to purchase the property. We are close to a deal. We very much want to preserve this land. It’s unique.”
Another citizen asked what Pierce County plans to do to balance its $10 million budget shortfall.
“The council is conservative. We are determined NOT to raise taxes”, said Lee. After going into great detail about the budget problems and concerns, Lee summarized with “We expect a 3 percent cut from all department budgets except safety and law enforcement. We expect to review the budget again for further cuts in about three months.”
The next forum to be hosted by the Community Council will be April 8 at 7p.m. at the Key Center library, featuring elected officials from our local School Board, Fire Department, and Parks District.