Covington, Maple Valley and Back Diamond city councils meet for annual tri-city meeting

The Covington, Maple Valley and Black Diamond city councils gathered together in their annual display of teamwork on June 3 to discuss comprehensive and emergency planning, as well as the Tri-City Trail.

“I thought it was a good meeting,” Covington City Manager Derek Matheson said. “It was our seventh annual.”

The councils heard an update from County Councilman Reagan Dunn on the state of the county, as well as an update from the Sound Cities Association.

That was followed by informational presentations on the cities’ respective comprehensive plan update processes — a process mandated by state law for the documents that act as a guiding force for city actions, growth and policies, which all three cities are currently going through.

The cities also presented how they plan for emergency and how the cities work together.

“Each city talked about its own emergency plan, how each city is divided up into emergency response zones, how the city trains around the plan and then how the cities work together both in the planning and in the emergency,” Matheson said.

Maple Valley City Manager David Johnston said it is important to see how the cities work with the county’s on emergency preparedness.

“We all have an excellent working relationship with the county’s emergency management department,” Johnston said. “I think it was good to hear where each city is. It is one of those issues that you don’t really pay attention to until there is an emergency.”

Black Diamond City Clerk Brenda Martinez also believes the meeting is beneficial.

“I do think it will be helpful to figure out how we can help each other and maybe just do some table top exercises together between the three cities for a mock event,” she said. “King County as a whole, we need to be able to rely on somebody else since it might take a while for other agencies to get to us.”

Beyond emergencies, the council representatives took part in discussion of the Tri-City Trail, an idea to connect the three cities by improving and continuing trails that already exist.

“Obviously the big question for that one is: we have a big plan, how do we fund it?” Matheson said.

The passage of the county’s park levy last year means that the project will see some funds and allow some of the next steps to be taken.

Connecting the existing Soos Creek Trail and the Green-to-Cedar River Trail, as well as creating an East-West connection and southerly connection to Flaming Geyser State Park, was first proposed at the 2010 tri-city meeting.

The focus in the near term, Johnston said, will be on the Cedar-Green River trail.

Matheson said that the next steps for the trail include determining a scope of work for the preliminary design and hiring an architect by the end of the year. The preliminary design work will follow and, ideally, some construction in 2016.

Those first projects, Johnston added, will involve paving sections of the trail, including from the North end of Maple Valley to Kent-Kangley Road.

In the longer term, how to connect the Cedar-Green River trail to the Soos Creek trail will be a major point of discussion, Johnston added.

“The goal that we talked about over the last two years is that we have good North-South trails serving Southeast King County, but we don’t have good East-West to connect them,” Johnston said. “We’d like to see Cedar-Green connect to Soos Creek and eventually connected to the Interurban Trail.”

Senior Reporter Eric Mandel contributed to this report.

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