Leaders see growth as they assess state of city in Covington
By KRIS HILL
Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor
September 19, 2012 · Updated 1:21 PM
Growth is the watch word for Covington during the first nine months of 2012.
Mayor Margaret Harto and City Manager Derek Matheson gave the Covington Chamber of Commerce the annual state of the city address at the monthly luncheon Sept. 14 with the review of the city’s accomplishments providing an upbeat big picture.
“In many ways we were No. 1 around the state,” Harto said. “In the state of Washington we are the No. 1 city for the sixth year in regard to retail growth. That’s really something we can be proud of.”
Particularly given how hard hit other communities have been by the recession, Covington has been able to quietly celebrate its growth in the past 18 months or so as it navigated through the rough waters of the recession.
Harto noted the city has also gained a reputation as a leader among cities in the state, particularly for its partnerships between other regional cities as well as with the business community. The Association of Washington Cities, for example, honored the city for its Destination Covington event which it hosted in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce in October 2011.
Matheson noted the event brought six solid development leads to the city.
This is a natural extension of the City Council’s vision for Covington which starts with providing an unmatched quality of life, Harto said.
Matheson had a number of things to highlight that the city has accomplished to improve quality of life for Covington residents.
“Covington turned 15 years old this August and we’ve certainly learned a lot in the past 15 years,” Matheson said. “We’ve had our growing pains, we’ve learned to do more with less, we’ve learned that partnerships … are the way of the future. We’re fortunate to have a forward thinking yet practical City Council, a hard working staff.”
Thanks to those assets and more, Matheson said, Covington is making a name for itself.
And it continues to work to bring more to the city.
For example, Matheson said, the city is working with Green River Community College to bring continuing education courses to Covington in early 2013 with a goal to expand that credit courses and eventually establish a permanent education presence in Town Center.
Work continues on a variety of fronts such as sewer and water infrastructure installations going on to support more development in downtown Covington, the next phase of the Northern Gateway study which is looking at what to do with hundreds of acres near state Route 18’s 256th Avenue exit, as well as construction on the first phase of Covington Community Park.
City staff continue to put together grant applications to help pay for projects which then stretches Covington’s dollars while also lobbying the state Legislature for funding. In the past four years, the city’s lobbyists who have been $100,000, have brought in $6 million in funding from the Legislature including $1.6 million this year.
Other highlights from the past year include how the city Public Works staff handled the snow and ice storms in January, which required a six week cleanup, the city’s first summer concert series and Kids Fest and the strengthening of relationships with homeowner’s associations and neighborhoods in the Covington.
While city staff have accomplished quite a lot in the past year, Matheson said, there’s still a healthy to do list to tackle.
“We have a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks and months,” the city manager said. “We’ll keep navigating the economic challenges with creativity and resourcefulness and we will continue to build on the partnerships and relationships in the community so we continue to grow.”
Contact Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor Kris Hill at email@example.com or (425) 432-1209, ext. 5054.