Monroe mayor's speech includes call for help on SR522

Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas gave his State of the City address Tuesday, April 15, 2022 at The Rock Church. (file photo)

Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas gave his State of the City address Tuesday, April 15, 2022 at The Rock Church. (file photo)
Photo by Michael Whitney.

MONROE —  Mayor Geoffrey Thomas gave appreciation to recent improvements in the city, appealed for help in advocating for widening state Route 522 and shared upcoming enhancements in his State of the City speech delivered to the Monroe Chamber of Commerce last week.
The city is growing, with 650 people added through a boundary annexation in recent months. Its population is cresting 20,000, growing by nearly 3,000 people in the past 12 years. Monroe’s growth is materializing moreso from new housing in the northside versus denser buildings in-town. Major recent developments include the Eaglemont subdivisions, the Sweetbriar and Woodlands developments and, in the pipeline, new subdivisions that branch off of Chain Lake Road.
Residents new and old need to get to their jobs. As of 2011 about one-third of Monroe residents were commuting to King County, a consultant’s report says.
Many drive state Route 522, or utilize state Route 203 into Duvall as a bypass.
The mayor appealed to the crowd that improving 522 must stay prominent in state legislators’ minds. Whenever talking with a state legislator, ask them what they will do for 522, he said, because this highway must be on their agenda.
“I need help in this space, the city can’t do it alone,” Thomas told the seated audience of approximately 75 people.
On Jan. 1, Monroe moves legislative districts from being one of the biggest cities in the 39th Legislative District to being the westernmost pocket of the 12th Legislative District, a broad district that crosses the Cascade Mountains to Chelan and Wenatchee where the 12th’s current legislators live.
In the city, “our financial position is very secure in the city of Monroe and it has for the past 20 years,” Thomas said.
Thomas praised the lighted, all-weather fields at Lake Tye Park, completed last summer. “When I see the lights ... I see people out there recreating. I know that those are people who might not otherwise be recreating, and that is the type of investment we need to make in our community,” the mayor said.
Thomas highlighted there will be a new 5-acre park serving the growing northside neighborhoods to be built in the Trombley area near the cross streets of 191st Avenue SE and 134th Street.
A new asphalt path alongside the Evergreen State Fair Park will open this summer. “To me this will be a significant improvement creating a connection from 179th over to where Fred Meyer is,” Thomas said.
New city entrance monuments at Lewis Street and at the 522/Main Street roundabout are planned to be installed in June.
A new city logo and brand is in the works. Its current one to attract people to the city, “The Adventure Starts Here,” introduced about 10 years ago, did not speak for residents who already call Monroe home, Thomas said. The new brand would reflect the community using the framework of the “Imagine Monroe” mission statement developed last year.
Thomas also highlighted that the city held its first LGBT Pride celebration in 2021, which brought together 1,000 people during a late June heat wave. This event introduced many people to Monroe, he said.
Thomas addressed caring for unhoused individuals, laying out how the city government is partnering and developing support programs. In April, the municipal court introduced a therapeutic court program. The city created a human services policy board whose members have “been invaluable in providing perspectives of people who are underrepresented with a variety of lived experiences.”
He noted that while some cities are spending their American Rescue Plan Act funds on infrastructure projects, Monroe spent almost all of its $1.7 million in coronavirus relief money directly to community nonprofits and local humanitarian needs. “People need help, not projects,” Thomas explained.
The next comprehensive plan for guiding city policies will incorporate the cost of housing affordability, as well as business rent and turnover, the mayor said.
He was on the City Council from 2003 to 2009, and elected mayor in 2014.
The State of the City address was held Tuesday, April 15 at The Rock Church, which is in the Fryelands industrial area.