Getting more results outside of Mukilteo

By Kevin Stoltz, Mukilteo City Councilmember | Feb 13, 2013

Sometimes it takes a hard look outside of Mukilteo before realizing the reality that is Mukilteo, at least as Mukilteo politics goes.

After reviewing my experience on council committees and the resulting effectiveness, I came to the conclusion that I could accomplish more working for Mukilteo outside of Mukilteo.

Part of that decision was validated by the fact that the whole waterfront parking issue was never worked on by the council Transportation Committee. We only received reports.

Similarly, after being on the Finance Committee and proposing an agenda over a year ago to work some issues that council finance committees would normally be involved in, there was so much reluctance that we never had a single meeting to address these items.

So, I’ve decided to no longer participate in the committees (except for one) and instead to work where I can be more effective. Funny thing is, it only took Councilmember Steve Schmalz one year to come to the same conclusion.

A Mukilteo park-and-ride has been a high priority for several years, or so I thought. Last year, after watching a series of events result in no progress at the Mukilteo level, I began asking questions outside of Mukilteo.

Surprisingly, I learned there were some real opportunities that haven’t been pursued adequately.

Considering airport property just off of Bernie Webber Drive is the preferred location for a Mukilteo park-and-ride, why not get with Snohomish County and investigate WSDOT grant opportunities and see what could be done?

Thanks to the support of Snohomish County Councilman Brian Sullivan as well as Airport Director Dave Waggoner who took the necessary steps to get a preliminary design study completed in time, we were able to submit a grant application to WSDOT for a park-and-ride in Mukilteo.

It was necessary to get this two year grant cycle application in and although we really had to rush it and therefore didn’t rank as high as it otherwise might have, it got the attention of those necessary so the process is moving forward in a more deliberate manner than before.

Myself and two other Mukilteo councilmembers along with Sullivan are forming a separate committee to make sure the project moves forward.

You may have heard about the pedestrian and bike overpass study at the waterfront. After some public outreach, it’s looking like the preferred option by a wide margin is to build the new pedestrian/bike bridge next to the current SR-525 vehicle bridge.

The sidewalk on the current bridge is so narrow that pedestrians frequently can’t pass each other without stepping into the ferry lane.

Projects over the past several years including the Boeing Pier, Sounder Station, ferry holding-area widening and Lighthouse Park renovation, all without adequate mitigation, have resulted in the existing substandard sidewalk being the only pedestrian route to our waterfront.

The city has applied for a $1 million state grant with the required 20 percent match coming from another unused federal grant.

Unfortunately, the federal grant which was awarded somewhere around a decade ago was never used and recent federal budget cuts have resulted in the unused grants being pulled.

Although it’s difficult to predict what will happen with unused grants, I’m extremely disappointed because I had previously expressed concern with the “use it or lose it” theory and was told that wouldn’t be a problem.

Like so many things recently in Mukilteo, the truth is out there, but we’re not getting it.

The lack of funds for the match, as well as some comments that appear to be surfacing, combined with the never-ending criticism without explanation by the mayor and his staff of a pedestrian underpass to Lighthouse Park (even though the design consultants disclosed to me they had actually thought of that and liked the idea), leave me thinking nothing’s going to happen if this project is left in the hands of Mukilteo officials.

One of the comments is to wait for replacement of the SR-525 bridge but unfortunately that’s the excuse that’s been used for the past several years and, even now, replacement of the bridge isn’t even on the radar for state funding.

I’ve been very outspoken that as a resident of Old Town I think Mukilteo officials have ruined my neighborhood with poor planning, no practical vision for the future and completely inadequate mitigation when changes are made.

I now realize there’s a lot going on that the council as a group doesn’t know about and therefore doesn’t discuss. The recent talk (to residents but not the council) of an automated car-stacking parking garage on our waterfront instead of a park-and-ride is the kind of reckless planning that is being allowed to happen in our little city.

It’s unfortunate for Mukilteo’s present and future.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.