Security fencing may be removed from terminal project

Would make access to waterfront businesses for ferry patrons easier
By Brandon Gustafson | Oct 17, 2018

For the last few months, the Mukilteo City Council has been wrestling with Washington State Ferries’ proposal to build security fencing around the new ferry terminal, which councilmembers feel would reduce waterfront access and increase security problems.

At their Monday, Oct. 15, meeting, the council approved a motion by Council President Steve Schmalz directing city staff to negotiate with WSF to remove the security fencing inside the terminal. This would allow ferry riders who already paid their fare and are waiting in the holding lanes to have access to the waterfront, as well as being able to visit waterfront businesses like Ivar’s.

Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said staff would then present the council with an update in the next month or so, whether that fencing would be removed from the plans or not.

WSF previously said that the fencing, which would be on the waterfront side of the holding lanes, would be used for cost control purposes, preventing people from walking into the terminal and then hopping into a car that has already paid their fare.

“I hear a lot of the fencing being an issue… we’re listening to our residents about the fencing,” Schmalz said. “If you’re looking to save money, just remove it and do some other kind of security.”

Councilmembers said WSF needed to cut roughly $300,000 from the project.

Schmalz also said he didn’t like the new design of the fence, which was recently changed to a black chain-link fence. WSF representatives had said it’s similar to the fencing you see at Rosehill Community Center.

Schmalz mentioned Homeland Security, which they said had initially been cited as a reason for moving the new terminal as well as adding security fencing.

“When Ferries came to us about the ferry terminal being moved, one of the reasons was because of Homeland Security, and that was their main reason and that’s all we heard was, ‘Homeland Security is requiring us to put a fence around the holding area,’” Schmalz said. “I remember they even talked about the existing terminal where it was trying to put a gate around it somewhere.

“So now, what we’re finding is it’s not required for Homeland Security, and it’s more of revenue control. I understand the concerns of Ferries, but aesthetic-wise, I don’t think it looks great, and it just never really made a whole lot of sense to cage the drivers in.”

Councilmembers have voiced concerns about safety with the fencing, with how people would be able to exit the terminal, and how first responders would get into the terminal to help.

“How do we get folks and cars in and out of there? There’s no real plan to do that,” Schmalz said.

Council Vice President Christine Cook sided with Schmalz, and noted the new Mukilteo Ferry Terminal would be the first in the state to have fencing like this.

“It’s not something I necessarily want to be first in,” she said. “It’s important that we have our residents’ wishes known… I think there have to be other high tech solutions for fare evasion.”

Councilmembers Scott Whelpley and Bob Champion said they needed more information before passing a motion on the fencing.

However, Schmalz’s motion passed, 5 to 2, with Champion and Whelpley voting against it.

Other discussion

Another issue that has gained traction with the council over the last month has been implementing a gate at 1st Street at the Mt. Baker Crossing, which would prevent traffic from entering residential Old Town neighborhoods. Schmalz has also brought up the idea of preventing left hand turns from the Mukilteo Speedway onto 2nd and 3rd Street.

Normally empty, the council chambers had nearly 20 Old Town residents attending to hear more about the project. Many of the residents spoke, with public safety being a top concern.

One speaker said he’s a father of a young child, and that increased traffic in Old Town is a worst-case scenario.

Another male speaker said safety needs to be the top concern for this project, and because there are no sidewalks in Old Town neighborhoods, having traffic cut through “is not an option.”

Former Mukilteo City Councilmember and current chair for the Mukilteo Ferry Advisory Committee Kevin Stoltz thinks a gate is a good idea for the time being until they find a more permanent solution for preventing increased traffic in Old Town.

Schmalz said the council will discuss impacts of parking, drop-offs, and other areas of concern for Old Town residents at their Nov. 19 meeting.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Joe Kunzler | Oct 17, 2018 11:29

I really hope this fencing is removed...

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