Waterfront parking and a miracle

By Kevin Stoltz, Mukilteo City Council | Jul 13, 2011

This month’s rant concerns a topic near and dear to my heart, waterfront parking. As usual, my critique includes well-deserved criticism but also acknowledges that some positive solutions are in the works.

As it stands now, we need a lot more solutions just to get us back to where we were a few years ago, and many more if we stand a chance of improving the situation.

When my family moved to Old Town over six years ago, there were over 250 city-owned paid parking spots available between Lighthouse Park and the Rosehill Community Center. The resulting parking revenue to the city was provided by commuters, businesses and visitors.

Private businesses, including the Buzz Inn (replaced by the expanded ferry holding area), also provided additional commuter parking.  Overflow parking was available on the grass at Lighthouse Park, and all along 1st Street (replaced by the Sounder parking and commuter platform).

Many changes have occurred that have adversely affected parking, including the elimination of paid/commuter parking at Lighthouse Park due to the park renovation, paid/commuter parking at Rosehill due to construction of the new community center, overflow parking along 1st Street due to the construction of the Sounder station, and commuter parking at the Buzz Inn due to the construction of the ferry holding area, etc., etc.

While all these projects should be positive for our community, the lack of emphasis on parking mitigation has left the city in a pretty big hole both from a revenue perspective and parking capacity perspective.

There have been plenty of opportunities to mitigate and improve waterfront parking and just as many excuses for why the city has failed to do so.

The excuse for not mitigating the overflow parking previously available on 1st Street was because BNSF could take this land anyway and we had no choice.

The reality is that other government agencies negotiated with BNSF to make the changes, and Mukilteo should have been at the table requiring consideration of the impact of the lost parking on our community.

I had proposed a council resolution before the paid parking at Lighthouse Park and Rosehill had gone away that required both financial and parking capacity mitigation to occur prior to eliminating existing parking.

Unfortunately, the desire to hurry up and build the new community center – or perhaps the petty and ignorant belief by some electeds that my mission was to stall construction of the center – resulted in the parking mitigation portion being dismissed by the council once again.

The idea of a multipurpose park-and-ride appeared to be gaining momentum for awhile. It would be located just off of Bernie Webber drive on airport property on the eastside of SR-525.

During the day, it would be a traditional park-and-ride for the Mukilteo community and, overnight, it would be paid commuter parking.

As reported at the last council meeting, apparently Community Transit has no money for capital projects so nothing’s moving forward.

Unfortunately, it seems the box we’ve crawled into is very small because with the paid commuter parking option and other partners who are interested, it would appear the idea deserves a little more analysis rather than claiming CT has no money so the project is dead.

The band shell at Lighthouse Park is a welcome addition, and has turned out quite nice. Unfortunately, we lost about 20 parking spaces as a result.

I had the bright idea and succeeded in getting the council to refer parking mitigation for the lost parking to the transportation committee. However, that’s where it stopped.

I had thought and previously inquired, without a response, about reallocating 11 spots previously used on what’s left of 1st Street.

In November 2007, a dialog with the local staff of Sen. Patty Murray’s office had been started and there seemed to be great promise of interim access to the Tank Farm property for both mitigation of pedestrian access lost and parking lost due to waterfront development projects.

Somehow, the administration effectively convinced everyone on the council, well, almost everyone, that there was no chance, no way of any kind of access to the Tank Farm until after the transfer from the federal government to the Port of Everett occurs.

IT’S A MIRACLE! Over the past several months the “no how, no way” statements have been replaced with a plan developed by the administration for interim commuter parking on the Tank Farm! I guess I just need to be more patient and not believe everything I’m told.

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.

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