Strive to ‘behave well’ for the next generation

By Paige DeChambeau | Feb 20, 2013

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The nation behaves well if it treats its natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.”

The citizens of Mukilteo have an opportunity to do just that with the acquisition and preservation of Japanese Gulch.

The gulch is a destination to thousands of people every year who come to mountain bike on the trails, jog up the hills, enjoy the gardens and play with their dogs at the park.

All the gulches in Mukilteo are natural resource assets. They are not only a place for recreation, but also home plants and animals. They are places where students can learn about nature, and others can just enjoy it, they are places to ‘get away from it all.’

They improve the overall quality of life in the area and they help shape the character of the city as a whole.

The area for sale is 97.7 acres. Combined with the 50 that the city owns, that would make the park almost 150 acres. If a Costco takes up 15 acres of land (accounting for the warehouse and the parking lots) you could put more than six of them in that area alone.

The area is zoned for light industrial use. Unless this changes, warehouses and parking lots are the only things that can be built there. There won’t be houses with views, community centers, restaurants or even parks.

Some developers have already looked into the land, including a package delivery service seeking a location for a distribution center. The result would be countless more trucks at every hour of the day, more overall traffic, and more noise with less open spaces and recreational opportunities.

Living next to a factory or a warehouse can have a detrimental to the quality of life in any neighborhood or city.

Fifty-nine percent of Mukilteo voters sent a clear message that this is a project worth saving. That is what the Japanese Gulch Group will continue to do.

We know there will always be people against any revenue increase, no matter what the cost to the community and the next generation. But a valuable park where indigenous plants and animals, water quality and other natural resources are preserved for the future is worth fighting for.

The Pacific Northwest is known for lush landscapes and open spaces. It’s a major factor in what draws people here to visit and is what keeps them coming back.

Part of the success of local businesses like Boeing and Amazon are that smart, young people want to live here.

In my personal and professional life, I have met countless people my age who are first-generation Washingtonians. They often admit that they would have taken any decent job in the area just to have the opportunity to live here.

This is because they want to be where clean air, clean water, open spaces and parks aren’t treated as afterthoughts, but rather are cultivated and treated as any other valuable asset would be.

The thing that makes the Japanese Gulch project unique is the breadth of its size despite its location in the midst of an urban center. The gulch, once acquired, will be Mukilteo and Everett’s Central Park and will be accessible for generations to come.

This was what President Roosevelt believed a nation that behaves well would do.

But Japanese Gulch will be more than just a natural resource asset. It will also be an asset that draws people to visit.

Those people will then stay in Mukilteo hotels, eat at Mukilteo restaurants and enjoy other Mukilteo amenities. Who knows, they might even move here because of it. Mukilteo businesses realize this, and that is why they are so supportive of the project.

Debate continues on whether there will be another levy or bond in the future. The Japanese Gulch Group is working closely with the city of Mukilteo on how to move forward and all options are currently on the table.

The group is also looking for funds at the state level. Currently, the Washington state Legislature is in session. We are also working closely with our legislators down in Olympia and are making a $1 million request from in the state budget toward acquisition of the property.

Please let your local representatives know that you are also in support of funding the project.

We are also pursuing other strategies to reach out to communities besides that of Mukilteo that also have an interest in preserving Japanese Gulch. Please let us know if you have any ideas or suggestions.

One last note, the Japanese Gulch Group would like to thank everyone who came out on Feb. 9 to the Mukilteo Mardi Gras dinner and auction. It was a really fun event and a roaring success.

With your help, we raised more than $45,000 that will go directly toward the mission of the Japanese Gulch Group. The community definitely got behind us and stepped up their game in a big way.

This community support will certainly help the mission, and we are very grateful to everyone who attended or helped make the event a success!

Paige DeChambeau is the director of the Japanese Gulch Group. She is leading the Save the Gulch 2.0 campaign to purchase and preserve nearly 100 acres of undeveloped land in the Japanese Gulch as parks and open space.

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