City’s new park plan needs public input

2012 plan was based on results from 2007 community survey
By Nicholas Johnson | May 17, 2017
Photo by: Nicholas Johnson Associate planner Karl Almgren, right, speaks with Nicholas Wright, who has lived in Mukilteo for the past three years, during the city’s Touch-A-Truck event May 13. Wright said he plans to weigh in on the plan with his two-year-old and four-year-old in mind.

The city is making an unprecedented push for public input on how to manage parks, open space, recreation and public art throughout Mukilteo.

An online survey launched May 8 had received 627 responses as of Monday, May 15, and associate planner Karl Almgren expects participation to keep climbing.

“We’re trying to do a big push to get people to tell us what they want and whether we’re managing what we already have in the best way possible,” Almgren said.

“We’ve already surpassed the number of responses we’ve had on any other online survey we’ve done. In fact, right now we have more responses to this one survey than we got for the Japanese Gulch and the large-item pickup surveys we did in 2015 combined.”

The city’s current plan – called the PROSA plan for Parks, Open Space, Recreation and Arts – was adopted in 2012. It was based on community survey data from 2007.

Almgren said the new plan will be more readable, with more photos and a clear narrative, while also making plans for how to create more public art throughout the city.

“We’ll have a higher focus on arts in the city,” he said. “We’re hoping to incorporate how to integrate public art into the city and make a plan for handling artists who want to do art for the city.”

Since the current plan’s adoption, the city has adopted master plans for Japanese Gulch and the downtown waterfront.

“We need to bring those back into the fold for the overall park plan,” Almgren said.

So far, survey respondents have asked for more toddler parks, for example, but Almgren said the city already has two.

“Do people know where they are?” he said. “Are they meeting the needs of our residents? That’s what we want find out.”

A town hall meeting is set for 6-8:30 p.m. May 24 at City Hall. It’s a drop-in format, meaning people are free to come whenever they can.

The city hopes to complete a first draft of the new plan in September. Then, the Parks & Arts Commission will hold a public hearing in October before the City Council holds a public hearing in December.

The city must adopt the plan by March 2018 in order to be eligible for funding from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO), including funding for continued development of the Waterfront.

To take the survey, which is open through June 11, visit To learn more, visit

Comments (1)
Posted by: Charlie Pancerzewski | May 17, 2017 15:45

The survey is interesting. If you fill it out you get a summary of responses to each question for those who have responded. I was interested in how the survey was written and who could respond to it.

I was interested to see if a group that favored one or more park options could have undue influence. For example, are respondents kept from taking the survey more than once. I tried taking it twice and it seemed to take both my entries. The first was answered completely, the second just enough answers to have the survey proceed to the end. So if someone wants more hiking trails, for example, they and their friends could answer many times to make the request for more trails stand out.

Although the number of respondents is over 600 to date, that is out of 21,000 residents. I do not know if all residents got the survey by email as I did. I did not request the survey so I presume the City could only send it to someone whose email is on record with the City--most citizen emails are not I presume.  Thus, it is likely those who favor some kind or park or recreation provided by the City would take the survey and those who are not interested would not.

The survey does not provide any cost information to show what various park and recreation costs now or what adding more would cost. Surely that would influence someone asking for more if they were told how much their taxes would go up or how much user fees they would have to pay for the additional service.

It is interesting to look at the responses to the long list of specific parks and park/recreation services that respondents say they have no interest in having or that we have enough of already. If the City cannot afford to maintain our streets without imposing more taxes which has been discussed the past month, should they be spending more on parks?

Look also at how many of the respondents visit each park or use specific recreation services each month and year. Many of the existing services are not used much by the respondents which should cause the city to wonder if the many thousands of residents that did not take the survey use many of those services or not care enough to tell the city by taking the survey.

Surveys are tricky to design and interpret. I hope the above are some of the considerations that will be used to analyze the survey results and to find out what services should be reduced or eliminated if they are not used much by those who cared enough to answer the survey.

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