Wait not over for waterfront access
After attending a council work session a couple of weeks ago and learning the current plan (and I use the term extremely lightly) for development of the waterfront, I’m not expecting much benefit to Mukilteo for probably at least another decade.
My baseline for comparison is 10 years ago before the recent development (Lighthouse Park, Ferry holding area expansion, Sounder Station, Boeing Pier) limited public access and parking had taken place.
Part of my skepticism comes by comparing the promises made with the reality that has ensued over the past decade and projecting that same level of single-dimensional thinking and poor planning with the promises being made for future development.
With that in mind, below I’ll add another dimension or two of what could have and/or can be, depending on the choices Mukilteo voters make in the upcoming elections (I can’t give endorsements here but will in an upcoming letter to the editor).
In 2009, after several council actions had occurred, local representatives from Sen. Patty Murray’s office were prepared to take action to help Mukilteo residents regain some of the Mukilteo waterfront access we had lost due to transportation related development.
In a single action all the work and collaboration that had been done at the council level was undermined by the mayor’s office.
To quote Murray’s staff person, “We’d like to help improve the situation for your residents during extended construction if possible, but do not want to do so against the will of elected leadership.” That was the end of that.
From that point on, the promise from Mukilteo’s officials was that as soon as the Tank Farm property was transferred, waterfront access would be restored.
Fast forward to today where the transfer is nearly complete and the argument has become, “For the safety of the residents, access won’t be allowed until construction of the various projects is complete.” Translated, the same waterfront access we enjoyed a decade ago won’t happen for another decade.
Sounder Station platform
Scheduled to start in June, the construction of the second platform at the Sounder Station and connecting bridge has likely been delayed until the beginning of next year.
When it does start, the 18-month project will result in the closure of Mukilteo Lane (to pedestrians also). No mitigation or alternate access for Mukilteo residents has been required by Mukilteo officials.
Automated parking garage
Revealed to the council at the work session was the plan for an automated parking garage where apparently up to three cars at a time could be parked.
Considering this garage will be used for both commuters and Sounder patrons, and, knowing the influx of these drivers at specific times, I think this idea is nuts. Surprisingly, the ST engineer I talked with was also skeptical.
What really needs to happen instead of turning our waterfront into a giant parking lot (and parking garage) is to move some of the parking demand up the hill to the park-and-ride, which is in the planning stages and has $1 million already funded.
That’s currently not in the plan. It should be.
You may recall the idea of a pedestrian underpass from the SR-525 bridge to Lighthouse Park thereby allowing pedestrians waterfront access without having to go through the ferry dock intersection.
This was another project initially approved by the council but later erroneously deemed “not feasible” due to single-dimensional thinking by the mayor’s office.
WSF will include the underpass when they build the new ferry access, road which parallels the waterfront.
This is a good thing that Mukilteo leaders should have had in place years ago for our residents. Now it’s once again only going to happen when and if WSF obtains the necessary funding for the new ferry dock.
Mt. Baker Crossing/Edgewater Beach Park
Now that the Tank Farm property has transferred to the Port of Everett, the port will be constructing the road to the park facility that’s been completed for more than six years now and BNSF will officially be opening the Mt. Baker crossing.
The road and associated legal access to the park is expected to be completed around this time next year.
According to the current plan, a whole lot has to happen before the envisioned promenade from the Silver Could to the Edgewater Beach Park will become a reality.
Not only does funding need to be acquired for both the new ferry terminal and a new NOAA facility, but actual construction of the promenade won’t occur until after the other development is complete, if ever.
Mukilteo officials could easily require access to an “interim promenade” considering there is already a waterfront access road through the Tank Farm that the Port of Everett has been using for vehicle access for workers at the Boeing Pier (next to Edgewater Beach Park).
However, Mukilteo officials seem perfectly content using the “safety” argument to just wait until every other agency completes their projects before building and, more importantly, opening the promenade to the public.
Ferry holding area
The only potential shops in the redevelopment plan will be built when the mayor’s in-laws develop parts of the existing ferry holding area that WSF is currently leasing for the expanded holding lanes.
The secret to making things work in Mukilteo is requiring mitigation pushed by Mukilteo officials on behalf of our residents. You can’t do business as usual and expect different results.
If Mukilteo voters choose to do business as usual, we know what we won’t get. If Mukilteo voters choose to change the way we do business, then I think they’ll be in for a pleasant surprise.
The preceding feature is published the second Wednesday of each month for The Beacon and is the opinion of Kevin Stoltz and may or may not represent the views of the Mukilteo City Council.