In a budget-cutting move, Sammamish City Manager Ben Yacizi eliminated the job of Michael Mathias, who had headed the Town Center development plan for the past several years.
Mathias, hired as an expert with experience in developing Town Centers, worked with the Planning Commission and then the City Council to develop the Town Center Plan and its regulations.
Unlike the others on the Community Development staff, or anywhere else in City administration or City Council, Mathias has key knowledge for public-private partnerships, finding creative financing and grants and understanding some key, intricate details of financial and developmental concerns of developers that will–or shall we say, “would”–be crucial to proceeding with the development of the Town Center.
The City Council is to sign off on the regulations Tuesday, Oct. 19. Mathias retains his job to January 1. The Council is also engaged in developing the budget for the next year. There is time for the Council to reverse Yacizi’s decision to cut Mathias’ job. This is important if there is a true commitment to seeing development of the Town Center go forward.
As the real estate market slowly recovers–one can see housing starts throughout Sammamish and in nearby Issaquah after two years of little or no activity–the capital markets are also coming back, slowly. There remains a need for creative thinking to kick-start the Town Center through creative financing and public-private partnerships.
Having watched and worked with Mathias for several years, his termination is ill-timed and ill-informed. The City Council should keep Mathias to help the Town Center get started–assuming, of course, this is the true intent of the Council.