Renton Reporter’s top stories of 2017

From City Council elections to new businesses to changes in the Renton School District, here’s a look back at the significant stories of 2017.

Happy 2018, Renton Reporter readers!

Every year brings stories that stand out from the rest. Some stories stand out due to its can’t-believe-it’s-true narrative, some due to its potential impact on the community and some, unfortunately, due to the troubling turn of events.

As we gear up for the new year, here are some of the most memorable Renton Reporter stories of 2017.

#ELECTION2017

All eyes were on the Renton City Council races last year as three seats were up for grabs.

The incumbents took a victory lap in November as council members Randy Corman, Ruth Perez and Armondo Pavone retained their seats.

The election season had its eyebrow raising moment in July when the candidate for Position No. 2 Diane Dobson did not file any financial reports with Public Disclosure Commission, as required by law. She filed all missing reports on July 31 and reported all other expenses on time for the remainder of the election season.

COMING 2020: WATER TAXI PILOT PROGRAM

In 2020, you will likely be able to skip the Interstate 5 traffic and travel from Renton to Seattle via water taxi.

SECO Development announced November they are piloting a water taxi program that will travel from Southport — from the Lake Washington dock — to Southlake Union.

It is estimated the trip will take about 42 minutes and will serve the growing work forces in the South King County region.

The vessels are expected to carry up to 149 passengers and will have high speed Wi-Fi, adjustable desks, and food and beverage services.

A CHANGING SCHOOL BOARD

Renton school board saw many changes this year — some good, some bad.

The first change rolled in during March, when board member Albert (Al) Talley Sr. died from a stroke. Talley had been on the board for more than 16 years at the time. Later in the year, board members voted unanimously to rename Secondary Learning Center to Albert Talley Senior High School.

The board appointed Avanti Bergquist to fill Talley’s vacant seat. At the time, Bergquist was running unopposed for the District No. 2 seat.

In June, board member Todd Franceschina unexpectedly resigned from his District No. 1 seat. The board appointed Alisa Louie to fill his seat.

At start of the 2017-2018 school year, the superintendent baton was passed from Art Jarvis, who served as interim superintendent since 2015, to Damien Pattenaude. Pattenaude, who was previously assistant superintendent of learning and teaching for the district, is a Renton native and graduated from Renton High School.

A YEAR OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The city saw a boost in economic development last year. In his 2017 State of the City address, Mayor Denis Law said the city had well over $2 billion invested in the community.

The two major developments that the city boasts of include the new IKEA building and SECO Development’s Hyatt Regency in Lake Washington.

IKEA’s presence in the Valley has been an important landmark for Renton. The city saw more eyes turn its direction when the store demolished its old store and opened its new 400,000 square-foot building in February. The site of the old demolished store was remodeled to a 1,600 space parking lot.

The Lake Washington shores welcomed 12-story Hyatt Regency hotel in July. Sandwiched between the Boeing 737 plant and Gene Coulon Memorial Beach park, the hotel has reportedly generated 175 jobs and offers 347 rooms and about 60,000-square feet of indoor and outdoor event space.

STILL A HIGHLY-CONTENTIOUS HOUSING DEVELOPMENT

The development Allura (also known as the Reserve) dominated Renton headlines in 2014, and once again found itself in headlines this year.

The 21.6-acre wooded property located in Tiffany Park — set for a 97-single-family residential lots — caused concern for Tiffany Park residents. Concerns varied from how the school district managed the sale of the property to the loss of the forested area.

In June, the city issued a stop work order to the developers Henley Homes after finding two protected trees were removed from the site.

However, the order was lifted June 28 and construction continued after the developers agreed to meet the city’s conditions.

WELCOME THE TIMBERWOLVES

Renton School District’s newest school opened its door to students this year.

Vera Risdon Middle School, located in Newcastle, is a $46 million project and is now home to nearly 800 Timberwolves — that’s their mascot.

The school is named after a longtime Renton educator Vera Risdon. While Risdon stepped down from her administrative role a few years back, she continues to be involved with the school district. She partnered with Friends of Renton Schools to collect music instruments for the new school this year.

SIGNIFICANT CITY STANCES

In 2017, the talk of the county largely revolved around the opioid crisis and illegal substance safe injection sites.

Renton voted in August for a resolution banning any injection sites within city limits. Other cities, including Kent, Auburn, Bellevue and Federal Way, voted against safe injection sites as well.

The vote came following the final report and recommendations filed by the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force.

In February, following President Donald Trump’s executive order to pull federal funding from sanctuary cities and restrict travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, Renton declared itself an inclusive city.

A special proclamation read during a February council meeting said, “Renton believes that an inclusive community and promotes mutual respect and appreciation for all people represented within its community.”

Mayor Denis Law said the sanctuary city label could make the city a potential target.

HOW TO SAVE A SKATEPARK

Trouble came rolling in for the local skating community when a local DIY skatepark faced potential demolition.

The Longacres Skatepark, which lies on a dry stretch of concrete underneath the Interstate 405 pass, is a park made and used by local skaters. However, it was built on Washington State Department of Transportation’s land without permission.

When WSDOT informed the skaters of their plans to demolish the skatepark, skaters from across the county showed up at a Renton City Council meeting, pleading for their help to save the park.

While the city’s intervention powers were limited, WSDOT changed their decision to demolish the park. Instead they are allowing the skaters who built the park a chance to lease the land.

A CHANGING PLEA

Renton made national headlines in 2016 when Renton resident Ingrid Lyne was murdered.

Police arrested John Robert Charlton, who was initially held on $5 million bail and pleaded not guilty on his first-degree murder charge.

In October, Charlton changed his plea to guilty.

Lyne was a 40-year-old mother of three who was reported missing in April 2016. She went on a date with Charlton the day before she was reported missing. Her partial body parts were found in a recycling bin in Seattle the day after her date.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said he would be recommending the maximum prison sentence, which is about 30 years.

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