Rumors & Questions

Check this page for updates on rumors, chatter heard about town to get the facts and real scoop straight from the source.

Check this page for updates on rumors, chatter heard about town to get the facts and real scoop straight from the source.

Q&A

What question do you have? Have you heard a rumor that you want to check? Let us know! Scroll down to see information on other questions/rumors we've received.

Full DIsclosure: Questions asked by "City of Sumner" are ones we're receiving a lot of in other forums (email, phone calls) so have added ourselves.

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  • Why can't we get a place to recycle glass in town?

    l-hiibel asked about 2 months ago

    Someone could opt to put a glass recycling site on private property. When we had it on our land by the treatment facility, people abused it, leaving all sorts of trash laying around and costing a lot of staff time to clean it up daily. As that staff time is charged to the utility, that situation was not fair to our rate payers. Besides, atlhough the site by Puyallup Elks off East Main is not technically within our city, it's still pretty close.

  • Why did you change vendors for our online utility bill pay? The new vendor’s website is much harder to use.

    CityofSumner asked 2 months ago

    We know and agree, but we’re not going back. Here’s why: the City didn’t change online utility bill systems. We changed our entire financing software that tracks vendors and bills, builds the biennial budget and tracks utility accounts. Our old system was really, REALLY outdated and no longer supported by the company that bought it. Using the old system was about equivalent to trying to use WordPerfect still. (If you don’t know what WordPerfect is, that’s our point.) We have been working on this conversion for years, transferring all our vendors, budget codes and utility accounts over. The new system has many benefits including the fact that it is actually supported by the vendor for upgrades and assistance, and it has modules that allow us to do permits online (which we couldn’t do before). For customers, it does have some nice features, like clearer printed bills and the ability to pay more than one account at one time. But, as many of you have noticed, it also has more than its share of quirks and frustrations, all of which are built into the system and out of our control. The vendor knows this and has assured us that a new upgrade coming out this fall will make the online utility bill pay much easier. To that end, we’re waiting and praying they’re right. We can’t go back, especially now as we’re just rolling out the online permit option. More to the point, there’s nothing to go back TO as the old system is completely retired and not offered anymore. If the online bill pay function in its current state really drives you crazy, you can still pay in person, through the mail/utility drop box or through the recurring payment option offered by most banks and credit unions.

  • Is the Rivergrove pedestrian bridge project still planned?

    J_Closson asked 3 months ago

    Yes! Rather surprisingly, the funding we received for that from Sound Transit did not go away with their realignment of projects. I'm asking the project manager for a few more details on where we are with this project, but I wanted to let me know it is indeed still planned.

  • There was a cruise-in event planned for later in May, similar to one held in April. Why has the City asked organizers to cancel it?

    CityofSumner asked 5 months ago

    We love events and can’t wait for them to return, but here are the many reasons why the plans (or lack of) for this particular event in May are problematic.

    Event Did Not Follow Sumner’s Event Process/Safety Procedures

    With the Council’s support, we’ve worked for years to transition events from “just happening” to following a standard procedure. This is not to be difficult: it is to ensure the safety of all participating, to give notice to and mitigate impacts to adjacent residents and businesses, and to protect the City’s resources. No joke, we used to have situations where event organizers expected us to close Main Street and bring in police officers on overtime just by asking a day or two in advance.

    All events held in the city must apply for a permit at least 60 days before their event. Our code requires a pre-event meeting with City staff 30 days in advance to finalize traffic and other logistics (restrooms, safety plans, electrical access, etc.). The applicant must also provide proof of insurance, listing the City as an additional insured. This group failed to do any of the above, and they are a perfect example of why SMC 12.52 requires a permit for such events. This event anticipated to have 1000 vehicles in attendance, driving up and down Main Street, through our residential neighborhoods and adding photo opportunity spots, where participants were encouraged to exit their vehicles and take photos with models.

    At the April 17th surprise event, cars parked in nearly every private lot between the old QFC and the downtown railroad tracks. People were gathered along the route and at the photo opportunity locations.  According to staff that stumbled across the event, there was no established safety plan around the photo op locations (no lines, masking or distancing). The cars were being actively turned at Cherry with no standard traffic direction or plan provided or approved by the police department or public works. This manipulation of traffic flows can be dangerous to the person directing traffic and requires special considerations per State law, not City law (signage, vests etc). In short, this event greatly affects businesses, patrons, residents and traffic and needs to be coordinated under our standard event permit.

    And Then There’s COVID 

    In addition to our normal process, add the COVID pandemic. Under the Governor’s guidelines, the City of Sumner has not issued an event permit—any event permit—for over a year now. This group’s actions in April and plans for May show an alarming disregard for any consideration of safety. They did not remain in their vehicles; they encouraged stops and gathering; they encouraged onlookers to crowd our streets. Even if they were to be our first event permit, WCIA, the City's insurance carrier, requires that special events organizers sign a waiver stating that they will follow COVID-19 guidelines.  This is to help protect the City from possible claims that someone got COVID-19 at an event and was harmed. See more below about the State and Federal guidelines for events.

    Fairness to All 

    Our denial of this event being held in Sumner right now is in no way a criticism of the event itself or its desire to bring business to our stores. We normally love events and spend a good deal of staff time and City money supporting events. But, we must be fair. We have made our other partners cancel or rethink long-standing traditions including the Daffodil Festival Parade, the Homecoming Parade, the Santa Parade, Bridge Lighting, Come Walk With Me, Rhubarb Days, Music Off Main, Street of Treats….you get the idea. All of these are much loved events, and it was not an easy decision to cancel them for one—in some cases, two—years. Yet, their organizers agreed with us that this is what we must do to keep people safe. Sumner Main Street Association is working hard to try to reshape and redefine Rhubarb Days in order to possibly hold it this July, but even that is touch and go and has involved a lot of communication between them and the City.

    We're at a loss for what we would tell these long-standing partners about why their event must be cancelled when another group can simply hold theirs. Worse, letting an event like this happen anyway holds grave potential to create another super-spreader situation, delaying our entire county from moving forward, so badly needed by all businesses and all other events. It’s worth noting that our city is not the only one giving this response to this type of event, neighboring cities denied special event permits for similar events in March, delaying them until at least July.


    We know there’s pent-up demand for events. We know people can’t wait to get back to some sense of “normal,” and we’re right there with you. But, the fastest way to normal will be to get vaccinated, to still be careful with masking and distancing and to get out this pandemic as soon as possible so that we can possibly add this to the long list of beloved events returning to Sumner.

    More about COVID Guidelines for Events

    COVID-19 guidelines for phase 3 allow this type of event with specific safety measures:

    • Must have a plan to reduce congestion and crowding.
    • Must increase restroom availability and handwashing stations.
    • Implement timed and/or advanced reservation ticketing whenever possible to reduce congestion.
    • Implement measures to ensure physical distancing of at least six feet between groups.
    • No gatherings more than 15 people
    • For spectators must maintain six feet between households, maximum 300 people per each side of street for every quarter mile.

    This type of event is not allowed under phase 1 or phase 2.

    The latest guidance (4/27 after new CDC guidance) from WA DOH on masking:

    • Masks required when in public spaces and six feet can’t be maintained.
    • Fully vaccinated individuals can participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues.



  • Where did the restrooms go in all the parks?

    CityofSumner asked 6 months ago

    Due to a recent rise in illegal activity, including vandalism and drug use within our public restrooms, we have made the difficult decision to remove all portable restrooms from our parks. Public restrooms remain available every day from 11 am to 5 pm downtown at the corner of Main Street and Ryan Avenue and at the Sumner Link Trailhead located at the end of State Street.

    We realize this choice is far from ideal, and we hope it is only temporary. However, your safety is our priority, and no one should experience the conditions our staff was finding daily in these facilities. We will spare you the photos here. Thank you for your patience as we evaluate our options.

  • Why is there a Pride Progress bench going in at Loyalty Park?

    CityofSumner asked 8 months ago

    As part of the ongoing discussion about diversity and effort to ensure the Sumner community is inclusive and welcoming to all, a few members of the community asked for a Pride, or Progress, crosswalk on Main Street. Councilmembers asked staff to research the suggestion. We found there were various safety and legal issues with a crosswalk, plus we didn’t have any new crosswalks budgeted. An opportunity arose as part of the Loyalty Park Inclusive playground upgrade. After discussion at public meetings, staff, Council and the Forestry & Parks Commission moved forward with adding a Progress Pride Bench at Loyalty. It fills multiple needs, fits well with the intent of the nearby inclusive playground, and provides a simple symbol of welcome to all.

  • These are more observations/ concerns than questions: First the audible crossing alerts at either end on the new 410 bridge can barely be heard over ANY traffic whatsoever, Unless you are standing within 6 inches of the trigger. The audible alerts at main/traffic and at Fred Meyer are much much louder. Second, will the volume of the new lahar sirens ever be increased? Near the fire station I can no longer hear them when inside my house. Could hear the old ones even when vacuuming!

    Tfrost72 asked 7 months ago

    Good observations/concerns! Thank you for sharing. Even though they're not really questions, just a few responses. 

    I'll let Andrew, the Traffic Avenue project manger, know about the crossing audio. Personally, I find the ones at Valley & Main to be good volume level but a bit commanding in tone. I asked if there were more polite audible settings. I guess there's not. 

    Also, about the lahar sirens, the good news is that the "new ones" are a test setting only. They are not the actual siren. The "old one" remains for use in an actual emergency, so if the mountain blows, you'll hear it over the vacuum! The County's idea was to use a test setting to help people differentiate between the tests and the real deal. 

    I hope that helps! Keep sharing your observations and concerns.

  • Why is there only 1 grocery store in town now? When Sumner was small there were 3.

    Kim P asked 7 months ago

    We actually have two: Fred Meyer and Winco, and like the national trend, each are much larger than stores were 30 years ago. I guess there are even more in Sumner if you also count Day & Night Grocery, AM/PM and the 7-11 on the 24th St interchange, all probably the same size as the old Thriftway that used to be on Main! 

    Things like privately run grocery stores remain at the discretion of the companies who run them whether or not to locate in a city. Just ask Fife and Dupont, two neighboring cities who have been trying to recruit even one store for decades now.

  • What’s going on the vacant lot at the Valley & Main intersection?

    CityofSumner asked 8 months ago

    Plans are underway for a 7-11 mini-mart and gas station to go in the long vacant lot on the southeast corner of this intersection. A few residents in the area have expressed concern over traffic into the adjacent neighborhoods. We’ve also heard the oft-asked question for most development: “Why did the city let that go there?”

    First, the neighborhood traffic impact should be minimal. Driving into the neighborhood’s rather circuitous streets does not offer future customers any kind of direct connection to major routes like Valley Avenue or Main Street or even Meade McCumber. Customers from the future store will follow similar traffic patterns as customers of the long-standing high-traffic stores already there, including Starbucks, Jack-in-the-Box, McDonald’s, Fred Meyer and Subway.

    Second, it’s a common misconception that city government gets to pick or have a significant say in private land deals. We provide general zoning (i.e. commercial, residential) to try to limit incompatible uses from being next to each other, and our Design Commission can ensure that the building follows architectural guidelines. In this case, the zoning is general commercial, which conditionally allows for gas stations and drive thru businesses. A conditional use permit is issued after a hearing with the Hearing Examiner. Watch public notices for the hearing date. You can provide testimony about your concerns regarding impacts like traffic to the Hearing Examiner, and the conditional use permit may impose conditions on the development to mitigate impacts. Keep in mind: the Hearing Examiner does not have the ability to stop the project.

    Generally, when someone wants to do something on their own land, they usually find the city too restrictive; but when they want to have a say in what someone else does on their land, they often find us too permissive.

  • Is a parking garage in Sumner ever getting built?

    CityofSumner asked 8 months ago

    We really hope so. Passed in 2008 with Sound Transit 2, funding has been in place since then to improve access to Sumner’s station. Sound Transit determined the biggest hindrances were the Traffic Avenue interchange and lack of parking, in that order. With some funding from Sound Transit and others, we fixed the interchange, while the garage moved slowly through the process to identify the right size, the right location (on the existing open parking lot), and the right design to fit Sumner’s adjacent neighborhood. Sound Transit was close to heading into final design and construction when COVID hit.

    The City of Sumner has been in communication with Sound Transit officials recently to try to keep Sumner’s garage on track. We fear that as Sound Transit re-prioritizes projects based on their funding losses, Sumner’s garage may get delayed or even changed in size or design in an effort to save money. We believe that we’re so far into the process that building what was planned as quickly as possible is the best option for Sumner, for regional commuters and for Sound Transit’s finances.  Our elected officials and staff continue to work with the Sound Transit Board of Directors to move this project forward as quickly as possible.

Page last updated: 12 February 2021, 11:22