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Former councilmember remembers UP’s early struggles

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Debbie Klosowski is University Place’s own Energizer Bunny that started beating the drum of community involvement when she moved to U.P. in 1990.
She served alongside Lorna Smith and Linda Bird on the U.P. Community Council, who also later served on the council during those early years.
But before incorporation, the UPCC was a community effort that was largely critical of Pierce County's land use rules that allowed large apartments to be built in the community without full regard of the affects the higher density would cause on roadways, public safety schools and infrastructure.
"Just the basic city services are affected when you add more people. You need all kinds of housing, but it can be done in a thoughtful fashion," Klosowski said. "Pierce County was the poster child for bad planning… That sort of morphed into the incorporation effort."
Police services in U.P. were based out of a Pierce County Sheriff’s Department precinct in Lakewood, which made for long response times during emergencies and meant the would-be city was lightly patrolled, something many new residents of U.P. never experiences since they arrived after incorporation.
"They haven't a clue as to what it was like," she said. “I think what we have done since incorporation is something to really be proud of."
Klosowski ran for the first City Council as the city incorporated in 1995 and continued to serve until 2010, when she retired to become a full-time volunteer.
"I just got to the point that it was time for someone else to step up and have a turn," Klosowski said. “I really enjoy retirement.”
“Retirement” is a bit of a misnomer since she volunteers for a host of community efforts including organizing the city’s first volunteer fair, promoting art in the city and gathering support for off-lease areas at Chamber Bay.
"My son calls me the worst retired person ever," she said, noting that much of her time is simply promoting the idea of volunteerism in the city on projects that increase quality of life in U.P. because, like most cities, many people do little toward civic engagement in their bedroom community and rely on other people to do the volunteering.
"Everyone is busy, but everyone can find time if its important," she said.

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