Meet Councilmember Neal Black, Coming up at Council, Holiday Happenings and more!

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this week in kirkland

December 5, 2019

city of kirkland washington

Meet Councilmember Neal Black

Councilmember Neal Black

Please join us in welcoming Neal Black to the City Council. Councilmember Black's first meeting will be on Tuesday, December 10. Black was elected to Position 5 on the Kirkland City Council in November 2019. He fills a vacancy created by the election of Councilmember Kelli Curtis to Position 2. Black will serve on the City Council until the current term for Position 5 expires on December 31, 2021. Prior to his election to the City Council, he served on the Houghton Community Council, to which he was elected in November 2017.

Black is a long-time resident of Kirkland having lived in the Lakeview neighborhood, the Everest neighborhood, and now the central Houghton neighborhood. For 10 years, he was a fixture at Everest Park, where he coached Kirkland American Little League baseball.

Black has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Stanford University and a Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University. He is a licensed member of the bar in Washington and Oregon. He has taught intellectual property and business law courses at the University of Washington School of Law (2009 to 2016), the Seattle University School of Law (2008), and the Seattle University Albers School of Business and Economics (2007) as an adjunct professor and part-time lecturer.

For over 10 years, Black has been a partner at the law firm Adkins Black, where he advises clients in the software technology and interactive entertainment software industries. Before joining Adkins Black, he was Vice President and General Counsel of Square Enix, a global developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software. Black also previously served as Vice President and General Counsel of Emergent Payments, a provider of digital payment solutions for the interactive entertainment software industry.

Black began his legal career as an associate at the Seattle law firm of Perkins Coie in 1998.

Councilmember Black has been involved in public policy and related community service for over 25 years. From 2014 to 2019, he was the chair of the Public Policy Committee of the King County Bar Association, where he is now a member of the Board of Trustees, addressing issues associated with diversity in the legal profession and equal access to justice. Prior to that, from 2007 to 2009, he was a member of the Board of Trustees of Washington Ceasefire, at the time the leading organization in Washington advocating for common sense gun safety legislation. Black has also worked on public policy for the White House Office on Environmental Policy (1994), the California State Assembly Natural Resources Committee (1993), the US Department of Justice Environmental Enforcement Division (1997), and the Environmental Defense Fund (1996) as a law clerk and intern.

As a member of the Houghton Community Council from January 2018 to November 2019, he worked on Kirkland land-use planning and zoning issues.

Black was born on Adak Island, near the southwestern tip of Alaska's Aleutian Islands. He grew up in a small town in central Oregon, and for the past 21-plus years, has lived in Kirkland with his wife, two sons, and their pet Havanese.

City Completes Two Safer Routes to Schools Walkway Projects

We're building safer routes to schools in the Finn Hill Neighborhood and Highlands Neighborhood.The Finn Hill project will create 950 feet of new sidewalk along Northeast 132nd Street, between 84th and 87th avenues northeast.

When complete, this project will improve access to Finn Hill Middle School PTSA, Henry David Thoreau Elementary and Carl Sandburg Elementary, as well as Big Finn Hill Park.
Meanwhile in the Highlands neighborhood, Kirkland’s contractor continues making progress on a 900-foot walkway along the west side of 111th Avenue Northeast, between Northeast 100th Place and the 103rd block of 111th Avenue Northeast.

Completion of this three-block-long asphalt pathway by the end of this year will increase safety and improve access between the neighborhood and Peter Kirk Elementary School.
Both projects are part of the City’s ongoing efforts to bolster pedestrian safety and increase the number of children and adults walking and biking to school.

The benefits of riding a bus, a bicycle or walking to school are multifaceted. These methods enhance children’s physical and social health,and improve traffic flow near schools during drop-off and pick-up times. More information on Safer Routes to Schools can be found on the City website.  

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Coming up at City Council

City Council

Tuesday, December 10, marks the final City Council meeting of 2019 and the agenda is packed with interesting discussion items, plan and project updates and other notable topics.

Confirmation of New Municipal Court Judge

The City Manager’s Office has been dedicated to the recruitment and hiring of a new Municipal Court Judge after the retirement of Judge Michael Lambo in October. Kirkland’s Municipal Court Judge is the Presiding Judge of the Kirkland Municipal Court and provides court services to the cities of Clyde Hill, Medina, Hunts Point, Woodinville and Yarrow Point. Please join us in welcoming our new judge!

Kirkland Urban Phase 3 Master Plan and Zoning Amendments

The Council will consider an amendment to the Kirkland Urban Master Plan that would result in an increase of square footage currently allocated to office space, along with a corresponding reduction in square footage allocated to residential space. Additionally, the proposed revisions clarify that a minimum of 186,000 square feet of restaurant and retail uses will be developed.

Capital Improvement Program Updates

The Council will consider adoption of the revised 2019 – 2024 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), the City’s six-year funding plan for building, maintaining and improving roads, sidewalks, public buildings, parks and other fixed assets. The CIP is organized into seven major programs/categories, including transportation, surface water, water and wastewater, parks, public safety and general government. Modifications and additions to the CIP up for Council consideration include Fire Station 24 replacement (project cost modification), the Kirkland Justice Center detox jail cell conversion project, the Cross Kirkland Corridor historic depot site and more. This update, and the adoption of the Citywide Transportation Connections Map, are part of the Comprehensive Plan amendments being considered by the City Council that evening. 

Implicit Bias Training Update

City Council will receive an update on the 2019 Implicit Bias Training and other actions the City has taken in 2019 as part of the City’s continual improvement following an incident stemming from a police dispatch call that involved the Totem Lake Menchie’s frozen yogurt shop. The update will discuss implicit bias and diversity training that has been received, the Welcoming Kirkland Initiative, Community Policing community outreach and the newly created Inclusive Economy Webpage

All of the agenda items will be available for review when the Council packet is published on Friday. 

Holiday Happenings

Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us! Luckily, Kirkland offers many fun, family-friendly ways for the community to come together to celebrate this festive time of year. Here are a few notable holiday events guaranteed to spark some good tidings and cheer!


Organized by the Kirkland Downtown Association, Kirkland’s Winterfest celebration takes place 3 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 7 at Marina Park. With its sledding hill made from real snow, Winterfest is wonderful for families with kids!  Stop by the park for a festive afternoon filled with performances, activities for kids, bonfires, a visit from Santa, shopping, vendors, food, alpacas, hot chocolate, seasonal surprises and the annual tree-lighting ceremony. For more information about Winterfest, visit:

Community Bonfires at Marina Park

The Kirkland Parks and Community Services department warmly invites the community to join in the lakefront bonfires that celebrate the 2019 Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship™ Festival. Bonfires take place rain or shine! Gather in front of a warm fire and watch as the Argosy ship, the Spirit of Seattle, glides by in a flurry of holiday cheer.

Our community bonfire series includes the following dates and times:

Saturday, December 21 from 3:30 – 3:50 p.m. at OO Denny Park (12032 Holmes Point Drive NE)

Saturday, December 21 from 6:35 – 6:55 p.m. at Marina Park (25 Lakeshore Plaza Drive)

Sunday, December 22 from 3:35 – 3:55 p.m. at Waverly Beach Park (633 Waverly Way)

Sunday, December 22 from 6:45 – 7:05 p.m. at Juanita Beach Park (9703 NE Juanita Drive)

For more information about the bonfires, visit the Kirkland Parks and Community Services Facebook page at:

Kirkland Urban Winter Festival

Kirkland Urban’s Winter Festival takes place 2 to 8 or 9 p.m. on Saturday December 7, December 14 and December 21 at 425 Urban Plaza. Each week offers different activities, including arts and crafts, live music, balloon art, glitter tattoos, a snow machine, visits from Santa and much more! Check the Winter Festival event page on Facebook to learn more about each event:

Google Lights

Google Lights invites the community to celebrate the holiday season with a light show featuring more than 25,000 lights choreographed to music! This event takes place 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, December 13 and is sponsored by Google, the Kirkland Downtown Association, SRM Development, LLC and the City of Kirkland. Google Lights features carolers, a photobooth, Blitz from the Seahawks, free cocoa and cookies. Guests are invited to bring unwrapped toys and nonperishable food items to donate to Hopelink and Lifewire! Google Lights takes place at 747 6th Street S on the Cross Kirkland Corridor. The event is free to attend but donations are encouraged. For more information, visit:

The 2019 Holiday Home Tour

The Holiday Home Tour gives guests the opportunity to take a self-guided tour of four beautifully decorated homes in Kirkland. The tour is a fundraiser for the Assistance League of the Eastside, an all-volunteer organization that strives to make a positive difference in the lives of local families and individuals impacted by poverty, homelessness, assault and domestic violence. The Holiday Home Tour has been ongoing for 23 years and is the organization’s signature fundraising event. This year’s tour takes place 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, December 6! For more information, visit:

Kirkland Arts Center presents the Holiday Art Market

The Holiday Art Market at the KAC is filled with one-of-a-kind gifts created by local artists! Proceeds go to the artists themselves and to support Kirkland Arts Center, a non-profit organization committed to expanding arts access. From ceramics to jewelry to prints, there are all kinds of gifts at the market! The market is open through Sunday, December 8 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. KAC is located at 620 Market Street. For more information about the Holiday Art Market, visit the event page at:

Grand Menorah Lighting

Chabad of Kirkland is hosting its annual Grand Menorah Lighting event at 4:15 p.m., Sunday, December 22, in the pavilion at Marina Park. Join featured speaker Kirkland Mayor Penny Sweet at this holiday celebration, which marks the beginning of Chanukah, an eight-day wintertime festival of lights. Chabad of Kirkland welcomes the community as it shares the story of Hanukkah with all who attend. For more information about Chabad of Kirkland, visit:

KAC holiday

Traffic Alerts for December 5-December 11

At times we may share private development projects that are impacting major arterials. These are provided as a courtesy, please check apps such as WAZE or other traffic apps before you drive.

312 Central Way

The developers of a mixed-use building at the corner of Central Way and 3rd Street have closed the bike lane and sidewalk along the project frontage on Central Way to facilitate the construction of an underground parking garage. Additionally, there are traffic lane closures that restrict westbound lanes to one lane during normal construction hours. Other impacts include the sidewalk on 3rd Street, which is closed to pedestrian traffic for the duration of this work. These closures started in September and are ongoing. Pedestrian access around the site continues to be limited during construction hours but will be restored after hours once the concrete phase of the work is completed.

434 Kirkland Avenue

The developers of a six-story mixed-use building at 434 Kirkland Avenue have closed the bike lane and the sidewalk along the project frontage on Kirkland Way to facilitate the construction of an underground parking garage. These bike lane and sidewalk closures started in August and are ongoing. A temporary sidewalk is provided at the conclusion of each work day, while the bike lane will remain in a merging state.   

Aegis Senior Living – 1002 Lake Street South

The developers of a new, four-story senior assisted living and memory care residential building at 1002 Lake Street South have closed the bike lane and sidewalk along Lake Street South while they build an underground parking garage. The bike lane and sidewalk are open at the conclusion of construction each day. These bike lane and sidewalk closures have been ongoing since August.

Lakeview Office Building – 5501 Lakeview Drive

The developers of a new, two-story office building located at 5501 Lakeview Drive have closed the bike lane and sidewalk along the project frontage of Lakeview Drive to facilitate the construction of an underground parking structure. Additionally, the sidewalk along Lake Washington Boulevard is closed to facilitate deliveries to the construction site and other needs. These bike lane and sidewalk closures have been ongoing since August.

Juanita Beach Bathhouse Construction Begins in January

The Council will be asked to approve the awarding of a contract for the Juanita Beach Bathhouse project at their meeting on Tuesday, December 10.

The project will demolish the existing bathhouse, create a new bathhouse, construct two picnic pavilions, install accessible playground equipment, and provides for environmental enhancements. The project will also include a public art element that capitalizes on the rich history of Juanita Beach Park, transforming historic images into an interactive display of art made from stainless-steel cut-out metal discs positioned in various locations across the park’s 22-acre vicinity. This project is part of the one percent for art program managed by the Kirkland Cultural Arts Commission. All of these improvements are consistent with the park’s approved master plan. 

The newly constructed bathhouse building will provide year-round restrooms, storage space for lifeguards, a non-motorized boating concession area, and park maintenance and event storage. Contractors will remove the existing playground equipment and reinstall it at Windsor Vista Park to create a neighborhood playground.

“The new bathhouse, year-round bathrooms and picnic pavilions will be a great amenity for what is one of our most heavily used parks,” said Mayor Penny Sweet. “One of the best things about living in Kirkland is our amazing system of parks and public waterfront. It’s important that we continue to invest in our parks so that they remain an incredible community asset.”

The project will be completed by Synergy, Inc., a family-owned construction company in Woodinville. Construction is anticipated to begin in January 2020 with final completion anticipated in August. A groundbreaking event will be scheduled for January 2020.

There may be minor closures during construction. The City will provide updates via the City newsletter, social media channels and the City website. For updates on the project, please visit the project’s webpage at

Juanita Bathhouse Rendering

Upcoming Events

youth mental health panel

Youth Mental Health Panel

Sunday, December 8, 3 to 5 p.m. 

Life Community Church, Kirkland 

Balance in Mind, a program of the Lake Washington Schools Foundation will be facilitating a youth mental health panel on Sun., Dec. 8 from 3-5pm, hosted at Life Community Church in Kirkland.

​This is a free event for parents and anyone who works with kids to learn more, get questions answered, discover resources, and become empowered to make a difference in your child's life and mental wellness. The panel will consist of mental heath professionals, resource officers, counselors, and public servants.