Council, city earn the Triple Crown

By Rebecca Carr | May 12, 2010

Monday's meeting, originally planned as a work session in which no decisions are made, morphed into one of the shortest, yet most productive council meetings on record. After approving the city's purchase of 16.75 acres in Japanese Gulch, the council followed up by nixing the planned green roof on the new community center, then raced to the finish with a small solution to some of the parking crunch in the north end of town.

Let's start with Japanese Gulch.

The council formally approved purchasing the property south of 5th Street and east of Prospect, which is adjacent to what the city already owns.  Thanks to the efforts of Sen. Paull Shin (D-Edmonds), the $980,000 cost is paid for out of state dollars, not city funds.


The city can leave the land as it is or extend the trails that Councilmember Kevin Stoltz's hardworking team of volunteers built in the already city-owned gulch land north of 5th and extending to Mukilteo Lane at the waterfront.

Either way, it's one less chunk we need to worry about being paved over and polluted with vehicle traffic, oil leaks and exhaust fumes.

Next, the decision to revisit the planned green roof on the new community center, which, it turns out, would have cost a lot more "green" in the long run for maintenance, plus increased liability should it leak. It's never pleasant or easy admitting being wrong, but city staff and council essentially did so when they re-addressed the issue in light of the mess City Hall's green roof became. We commend them for getting out before we got in too deeply.

In doing so now, the city saves $75,000 off the total cost, money that can go for other, more productive uses.

Sure, it was contaminated mulch that forced Public Works to tear off the eye-catching, lush, green landscaping from the new, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified City Hall on Cyrus Way. But that was only the start of what could go wrong down the hill at the community center, where the roof is steeply sloped rather than flat like most successful ground level landscaping.

We're all for going green and being environmentally friendly – in fact, we were as excited about the green roofs as council and staff at the start. But it doesn't do much to go green if it puts the city in the red, particularly when the environmental benefits don't pencil out as hoped.

Finally, the parking. The council voted to create nine more overnight spots along Front Street, west of Park, and also approved allowing 15 spots in the lower Rosehill parking lot off of 3rd Street for commuters to use at night. The city continues to work on shared parking to make the most of the increasingly limited spots in Old Town.

While it doesn't address all of the soon-to-be-homeless commuter vehicles, it's a step in the right direction. Bit by bit, piece by piece, staff and council are working to accommodate all of the displaced commuters without significant impact on Mukilteo residents and businesses.

And after all those positive moves for the city, the council still had around 30 minutes left for its original work session to discuss the city's long range financial plan. If it follows through with finance director Scott James' dream of projecting – and planning for – large ticket items years into the future, and continues making wise financial decisions, perhaps budget time will cause less gastric upset for council and city staff in coming years.

We're not sure what sparked Monday's flurry of smart decisions, but we're willing to try these short meetings more often and see where they take us.
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