Not just another dinner auction

By Janet Hammerman, Japanese Gluch Group | Jan 23, 2013
Janet Hammerman

In November, 59 percent of Mukilteans supported Prop. 1 the bond measure on the ballot with the goal to obtain 100 acres of Japanese Gulch property on the west side of the gulch in order to make it into a regional park.

In fact we were only 158 votes shy of the super majority needed to pass this measure. This is a tremendous accomplishment and a meaningful election margin. Clearly the community has spoken, but the vote fell short, so what do we do now?

On Feb. 9, the Japanese Gulch Group is holding its second Mardi Gras Dinner and Auction at the Rosehill Community Center. Proceeds from the event will go toward saving the gulch.

Some in the community are questioning why, with the ballot measure defeated, we should continue supporting this group. The fact is that supporting the Japanese Gulch Group is more important than ever because we are very close to accomplishing our goal of purchasing and preserving the gulch property forever.

Let me explain to you why your help and donations are still needed and what happens to the money that is donated.

Thanks to your support, our fundraising auctions raise tens of thousands of dollars each year. Unfortunately, the purchase price of the Japanese Gulch land is going to be in the millions.

At the current rate, it will take more than 10 years to raise enough money through auctions alone to purchase the property. By that time the land will be sold and developed.

By donating to the Japanese Gulch Group, your money is helping us build the community and political support needed to raise the funds necessary to purchase the gulch property.

We know we can’t save the gulch on fundraisers alone, so we need to find other ways to fund the purchase price of the property now. Your donations help us move toward our goal of purchasing the land by helping us find and access alternate sources of funding.

So far we’ve built awareness of the gulch through events and projects. There was the Gulch Cup race that involved 300 kids and seven schools; Trail-A-Muk, a non-competitive 5K run/walk; and the LEAF School conducted an archeological exploration project in the gulch.

We have applied for numerous grants, many of which are still in the approval process. We applied and got accepted to Leadership Snohomish County, which will help the group by working on a capital project to bring in donations from outside the city of Mukilteo.

Some have complained about Mukilteo taking on the tax burden of the gulch. What you may not know is that in 2010 the state of Washington gave $1 million toward the gulch, and in 2011, Snohomish County gave $500,000.

We have applied and received approval from another Snohomish County grant that will come to fruition in 2013. Grants and bond measures on the state, county and local levels will all combine to help us purchase this property.

The group is working to obtain funding through every source possible to make the gulch into a regional park.

Many people who live outside of Mukilteo have expressed the desire to donate funds directly toward the purchase price of the gulch property. These funds would be used in conjunction with any future levy or bond measure that we get approved in Mukilteo.

Through our Capital Fund Drive non-residents can now donate directly to the purchase of the gulch property. This “community” money will be specifically earmarked toward buying the land. Please come to the auction for more specific information.

This year’s Mukilteo Mardi Gras Dinner and Auction will be better than ever. We have an all-new caterer this year, Shawn O’Donnell, who will be providing options like Caesar, house, and succotash salad, cornbread with honey butter, as well as Cajun favorites, such as chicken jambalaya and bourbon glazed sweet potatoes.

The caterers will have more staff available for better service and two buffet tables this year to keep things moving smoothly.

We will have many wonderful auction items to bid on, through both live and silent auctions, and are always looking for more. You can buy things that you normally wouldn’t buy, such as tickets to a Cirque Zuma Zuma show or you can be practical and buy things like carpet cleaning or a kid’s birthday party that you are going to spend money on anyway, so you might as well help the gulch!

Grab your friends, get a table together and come out to Rosehill for a wonderful night where you can feel good about spending money on a cause that really matters! Last year’s event sold out so please go to www.Japanesegulchgroup.maestroweb.com to purchase your tickets in advance.

We need your support now as much as ever! We are close to achieving the dream of turning this land into a regional park. We live in Mukilteo because of the wonderful quality of life here. The purchase of Japanese Gulch can only add value to our community.

If you would like to learn more about Japanese Gulch Group or have any other questions regarding the auction or how you can help the cause, contact us at info@japanesegulch.org.

Comments (1)
Posted by: John T Baker | Jan 26, 2013 11:23

Please stop the rah rah and give us a plan!   Have the property assessed and get a purchase and sale agreement negotiated.  Until then, you have no idea what the property is worth or that any bond we might pass would provide sufficient means to buy it.  There is no argument that the property could be an asset for the City...but not at $6M!  That property would be extremely costly to develop for any commercial/industrial use.  Just because the seller "wants" $6M doesn't make it worth that amount.  Please don't come to the voters again until you've done the necessary preliminary work to support the bond amount.   That's the only reason I didn't vote in favor of this the last time...I"m not into signing blank checks.  Until these loose ends are tied down, "feel good" activities aren't going to carry the day.



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