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Millwood approves traffic-calming plan

Millwood City Council approved a multi-faceted traffic calming program intended to streamline the process in which residents voice complaints during its regular meeting Monday night.

“To put together a program that provides consistency for both the council and for the public, I think we’ll all see as a benefit,” said Matt Gillis, project manager from Welch Comer and Associates. “People deserve an efficient process.”

The program outlines the procedure for an application process, as well as defines the steps to be taken by the city and residents. It also provides the ability to rescind the application at specific intervals.

“It’s a fair process,” said Gillis, who drafted the plan. “It makes sure we’re doing the right thing. There’s a lot of checks and balances.”

Prior to the council adopting the traffic calming program, Gillis presented preliminary design plans for four speed humps – two each on South Riverway and Bridgeport Avenue, along with a raised intersection at Empire Avenue and Fowler Road.

The plans are a result of a special traffic meeting held late September.

The asphalt speed humps would be 14-feet long, and rise to 3 inches high in the center. Each hump costs an estimated $2,500.

“We have to be careful how extreme we make them,” Gillis said. “The goal is to slow people down not hurt anybody.”

The raised intersection at Fowler and Empire has an estimated $8,000 price tag which includes construction costs, as well as pre-warning signage, utility adjustments, and traffic control.

The council chose to follow Gillis’ recommendation of waiting until winter to solicit bids. By doing so, Gillis expects the council can take advantage of more competitive bidding. Construction should begin in the spring.

In other developments, the council held a public hearing for the 2011 Revenues and Property Tax Levy. The city’s assessed property tax is estimated to decrease by a nickel per $1,000 assessed, leaving the city an estimated $9,800 less in revenue next year.

City planner Tom Richardson explained the city belongs to a special district along with the fire and library districts. The three together cannot exceed $3.60 per thousand assessed valuation on residents’ property. The fire district’s limit is $1.50, and the library’s is $.50. That leaves the city a maximum of $1.60/per thousand assessed valuation.

Mayor Dan Mork shared a letter drafted by City Attorney Brian Werst regarding increased panhandling throughout the city. The letter is intended to be inserted in the city’s newsletter.

“It’s a problem in this community right now,” Werst said.

In his letter, Werst advised residents to reduce solicitation activity by not giving money or donations to panhandlers.

“It is a constitutional protected form of speech,” Werst said. “The city can not prohibit panhandling. We can prohibit the effects of panhandling.”

John Driscoll, executive director of project access, presented a short update and asked council to commit $3,000 next year to support the program.

Project Access provides healthcare to the low income and uninsured residents of Spokane County by providing a charity network of physicians and hospitals.