City seeks feedback on draft parks plan

Public hearing set for Oct. 5 Parks and Arts Commission meeting
By Nicholas Johnson | Sep 13, 2017

The relative lack of city parks, such as baseball fields, in south and mid-Mukilteo is a result of the community’s failure to approve two bonds in the 1990s.

“It is this track record of not supporting park bonds at the ballot box that has set the community’s trend for not having flat upland park sites, except at schools,” reads the preface of a draft version of the city’s new, six-year parks plan.

After voters rejected a 1994 bond to purchase land for parks in mid-Mukilteo, the City Council voted to authorize the use of councilmanic bonds, which don’t require of a vote of the people. Those bonds secured land for what is now 92nd Street Park.

Two years later, a bond measure that sought to purchase parcels just south of Big Gulch also failed at the ballot box.

“More than 20 years later, we do not seek to undo development or change the past, but build from lessons learned and meet the needs of current and future residents,” the draft plan’s preface reads.

The city is currently looking for feedback on its draft update to the 2012 plan for managing parks, open space, recreation and arts – called PROSA for short. Associate Planner Karl Almgren, who is leading the update effort, said he’s hoping to find out whether the narrative in that draft is accurate.

“What we want to know now is: did we get the story right?” Almgren said. “We want to make sure the background information is the best to use to illustrate the decisions being made.”

The city’s Parks and Arts Commission will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Council Chamber at City Hall. Almgren is also taking comments through 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21. Send comments by mail to 11930 Cyrus Way, Mukilteo, WA 98275; by email to Kalmgren@mukiltoeowa.gov; or give Almgren a call at 425-263-8045. The 66-page draft plan and other information is available on the city’s website.

The City Council will hold a second public hearing Dec. 4 before adopting the plan. 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).

Plans to redevelop the city’s downtown waterfront are heavily dependant on grant funding from the RCO, Almgren said. So it’s no surprise the plan makes that the city’s top priority over the next six years.

“Having RCO grants is critical to the implementation of waterfront development,” he said. “In this plan, we wanted to emphasize that waterfront redevelopment is not just a city priority, but also a priority of the residents.”

This spring, the city hosted an online survey about parks and open space. It was the first one since 2007.

More than three in four respondents said recreation and cultural activities are either important or very important in their everyday lives. Some 93.8 percent said they use Lighthouse Park more than other city park and facility, and 52.2 percent said a waterfront promenade is their most desired future park feature.

The plan also prioritizes construction of a Peace Park likely at Byers’ Park in north Mukilteo, a dirt jump bike course at the Japanese Gulch trailhead at 76th Street, revitalization of Hawthorne Hall, replacement of playground equipment at 92nd Street Park and playground equipment at Harbour Pointe Village Park.

Almgren said the survey’s results might be skewed toward older adults rather than children and young families.

“Considering the majority of survey respondents were adults without children,” the draft plan reads, “the survey needs may be skewed with results showing low interest or need for sports fields, courts, and playgrounds.”

Almgren also said the survey respondents skewed white.

“Probably the one demographic we didn’t get as much feedback from were individuals who identify as nonwhite,” he said. “People who responded identified as white at a higher rate than they are represented in the community.”

Also, many residents are apparently not aware of the many recreational opportunities the city offers, Almgren said. The draft plan not only looks at what is missing as far as parks and recreation, but also covers existing recreation programs.

“I’d like people to see all the things we already offer,” he said. “We do offer a lot of recreational opportunities.”

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