By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.
March 2, 2021, update.
After the March 2nd city council meeting City Manager Michael Ciaravino signed the proclamation extending his Covid-19 emergency proclamation closing Mill Creek City Hall to the public until April 6th.
However during their emergency proclamation discussion, the city council decided that the city manager would be able to reopen city hall sooner if Governor Inslee modifies his Roadmap to Recovery Plan by further loosening restrictions.
Councilmember Vincent Cavaleri made it clear he would not support a further extension of the emergency proclamation under any circumstances. He voiced his belief that since grocery stores are open and soccer matches are now being held at Arena Sports, city hall and especially the council chambers should reopen. He said, “The people’s house, they should have access to it. I won’t be supporting any more extensions at this point.”
Cavaleri stated that the council chamber would safely accommodate 19 people under a 25% occupancy restriction. He didn’t provide an analysis showing how the six-foot social distancing requirement would be met in the council chamber’s limited space
Since there are seven city council members and often eight or nine staff members who attend the meetings, a 19-person restriction would allow three or four members of the public to also attend.
The city council chamber still isn’t outfitted with the technology that would allow remote visitors to attend in-person public meetings.
Ciaravino reported that city staff are now working on improvements that may allow the city’s passport office to reopen. He said, “Right now we are working on some additional physical structural improvements such as partitioning between the service counters, potentially being able to work both the police department window, as well as the city administrative windows.”
February 2, 2021, update.
After the February 2nd city council meeting City Manager Michael Ciaravino extended his Covid-19 emergency proclamation closing Mill Creek City Hall to the public until March 2, 2021.
During the emergency proclamation discussion Ciaravino was asked a number of questions regarding his plan to reopen city hall now that phase 2 of Governor Inslee's Roadmap to Recovery Plan has loosened restrictions.
Ciaravino answered that it is be difficult to conduct public meetings in council chambers at the present time because the room's size makes social distancing difficult and the city's audio/video equipment isn't set up for remote participants.
He said he and his staff would make it a high priority to develop potential solutions.
January 5, 2021, update.
At the January 5th virtual city council meeting City Manager Michael Ciaravino extended his emergency proclamation closing Mill Creek City Hall until February 2, 2021.
December 8, 2020, update.
At the December 8th virtual city council meeting City Manager Michael Ciaravino extended his emergency proclamation closing Mill Creek City Hall until January 5, 2021. He told the city council that one of his staff tested positive for Covid-19 requiring a number of city employees to quarantine.
He also announced that the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held virtually due to the quarantines.
November 3, 2020, update.
Under extension of the city manager's emergency proclamation, Mill Creek City Hall will remain closed until December 1, 2020.
October 6, 2020, update.
Under extension of the city manager's emergency proclamation, Mill Creek City Hall will remain closed until November 3, 2020.
September 1, 2020, update
Under extension of the city manager's emergency proclamation, Mill Creek City Hall will remain closed until October 6, 2020.
Original July 10, 2020, article.
On Tuesday, July 7, 2020, the Mill Creek City Council voted 6-1 to allow the city manager to extended his emergency proclamation until September 1st if necessary in response to continued concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city council gave City Manager Michael Ciaravino the power to amend the emergency proclamation when the county reaches Phase 3, allowing City Hall to reopen.
Snohomish County remains in Phase 2 of Governor Inslee’s Safe Start Plan, and currently is not eligible to advance to Phase 3.
During the city council meeting Mayor Pam Pruitt explained, “We are not getting into Phase 3 it looks like anytime soon. Brian (Holtzclaw) you were probably right, it may be Labor Day. Our metric numbers are allowed to be 25 new cases per 100,000, and as of today we’re at 53 and we’re off on two other metrics too. Hopefully wearing the masks will help, but if it doesn’t we’re going to be in Phase 2 for a long time.”
Councilmember Vince Cavaleri was the lone "no" vote to extend the emergency proclamation. He made a failed motion to move council meetings back to city hall “to deliver our government back to the people.”
He explained that he doesn’t think Governor Inslee’s Safe Start Plan should dictate how quickly the city should reopen. He said, “As Michael (Ciaravino) just put it, he would be willing to roll along and do what the governor is saying and that’s how he is going to operate. That is not an emergency declaration that I want to give my city manager… I don’t want to wait on the Governor to decide our fate in this city.”
Other councilmembers disagreed with Cavaleri.
Mayor Pro Tem Brian Holtzclaw said he wanted to stick with the Safe Start Plan. He said, “I’m not comfortable in going down there (to City Hall) and participating in a large gathering, so I think frankly it would be irresponsible for us to do that.”
At present, City Hall remains closed to the public. The following services are affected:
- Non-emergency police services, including concealed weapons permits.
- Passport applications.
- All City sponsored recreational programs.
- Public’s use of meeting rooms.