On the political front, the seven-member City Council appointed Ed Hildreth, a longtime planning commissioner, to finish the unexpired term of former Councilwoman Karen Valenzuela. Valenzuela was appointed to the Thurston County Commission to finish an unexpired term.
Key issues in the city revolve around growth and dealing with the fallout of the economic meltdown.
The city is preparing a strategic plan to guide and realize the city’s potential for economic development.
Meanwhile, it’s dealing with the realities of the market today.
The city is working on shaping its Town Center, a 200-acre area between Tumwater Boulevard, Israel Road, Nicholas Street and Interstate 5 that would become the city’s urban core. That effort has been stymied due to the economic crisis and the tightening of credit.
Less spending means less tax revenue, and although it has avoided layoffs and program and service cuts that doesn’t mean economic conditions haven’t taken a toll on city’ finances. City Administrator Doug Baker said the city has implemented a hiring freeze and suspended capital projects to save money.
A long-running battle regarding a proposed Wal-Mart store has cleared the appeals cycle. Groundbreaking is scheduled in 2010 with a store opening occuring the following year, Baker said.
ENTERTAINMENT AND EVENTS
The city’s main event, a July 4 parade and festival with fireworks at Tumwater Valley Municipal Golf Course, is one of the largest in the area. The Tumwater Town Center Farmers Market opens each spring with Procession of the Produce, a costumed, food-themed parade.
In the past two years, several new apartment and condominium complexes have opened or begun construction near Town Center, aimed to attract state office workers looking for a shorter commute.
To the north of the Town Center is the 18-hole Tumwater Valley Municipal Golf Course as well as the Tumwater Falls Park and Tumwater Historical Park.
Visitors can walk along the Deschutes River at the parks, see wildlife and take in the view of the century-old historic brick brewhouse. Henderson House Museum at 602 Deschutes Way S.W. also is open to the public.
To the south of the Town Center is the Olympic Flight Museum at 7637-A Old Highway 99 S.E., where vintage aircraft and other artifacts are on display.
For years, the former Olympia Brewing Co. brewery, which spans 100 acres in the city including the historic riverfront brewhouse, was the business icon of the city.
After a failed financing deal and scandal involving a proposed water-bottling plant, the entire operation was forced into bankruptcy in late 2006. This year, legal issues continue around a potential sale of the property, while the cities of Tumwater, Lacey and Olympia completed a joint purchase of the property’s water rights.
City leaders also have talked about ways to save and restore the 175,000-square-foot brewhouse as a tourist destination, but no new developments have surfaced on that plan.