A sign we must act now to save Japanese Gulch

By Janet Hammerman | May 29, 2013
Courtesy of: Japanese Gulch Group Metropolitan Trust, which owns nearly 100 acres of undeveloped land in the Japanese Gulch, has installed this sign advertising that the gulch is for sale near the Mukilteo Community Garden.

Many citizens who live and work near the Japanese Gulch have noticed something new. What they’ve noticed has potential to affect residents in Mukilteo, Everett and the surrounding areas forever.

There is a very large sign notifying the public that there are 98 acres for sale and that Metropolitan Creditors Trust is seeking qualified parties. The sign was placed on 44th Street, next to the entrance to the Community Garden.

Metropolitan must sell the land because it is in bankruptcy. Metropolitan knows that the Japanese Gulch Group, the city of Mukilteo, Snohomish County and the state of Washington have all been partnering to drum up enough money to make the purchase.

What’s surprising about the sign is that it is up now, in May. It was understood that Metropolitan wasn’t going to actively market the property until November, allowing time for funding to be secured.

Since they have taken action to advertise the land, it is now urgent that we shift into high gear to secure the property once and for all.

Earlier this month, the Japanese Gulch Group learned that the City Council was going to determine whether to put another bond measure to the voters on the August ballot.

A small group of concerned Mukilteo citizens, including myself, decided to speak with each of the councilmembers to see what their thoughts were on the subject. After hours of meeting individually with each of the seven councilmembers and the mayor, what we learned was very interesting.

Our councilmembers, whether they agree or disagree on any given subject, are very devoted to honoring their duties and responsibilities as councilmembers. They are trying to do the right thing for their constituents now and in the future.

Each and every councilmember expressed interest in preserving Japanese Gulch to use as a regional park.

When we sat down with each of the members, we made clear our position that Mukilteo residents had spoken last November with a vote of almost 59 percent approval to save nearly 100 acres of Japanese Gulch.

Though the required 60 percent supermajority was not reached to pass the levy, it is now evident that the voters are willing to slightly raise their taxes (as you might remember, for the average Mukilteo resident, the amount equaled about a latte a month for five years to obtain Japanese Gulch).

Not only did the majority of citizens vote to preserve Japanese Gulch, since the November election, we have worked to acquire more money from different sources.

In fact, the expected financial support from the county and state will allow the city to ask voters for a fraction of the money that was asked for in November. We will know if funds from the county and state are granted to purchase this property by the end of the summer.

The City Council is empowered to vote for a bond that would raise the remaining money for completion of the purchase without going back to the voters for a vote.

Most were cautious to make any promises, but also know that their decision is history in the making. The more they hear that the citizens want the purchase, the more likely it is that the council will act now.

We also sat down with Brian Sullivan who serves on the Snohomish County Council to talk about Snohomish County’s contribution to the Gulch purchase.

He explained that Snohomish Conservation Futures Board is currently considering allocating additional funds toward the purchase of this property.

This regional participation should alleviate concerns of those who feel that Mukilteo shouldn’t hold the entire burden of this purchase. Snohomish Conservation Futures has already allocated $800,000 toward the purchase of Japanese Gulch and additional funding is in the works.

We came away from these meetings feeling inspired. We are getting closer to securing the funds necessary to make an offer on the property, but we still need you!

How can you help?

Send an email, a letter or make a phone call to each of your seven councilmembers and Mayor Joe Marine to let them know that you want them to act now.You can also write to the Snohomish County Council, and your state and local representatives. Visit www.ci.mukilteo.wa.us for contact information.

Go to www.japanesegulch.com and sign up to get our newsletters. On the website, you will find a sample letter to use if you don’t want to write your own personal letter.

You can help immediately by donating through the Japanese Gulch website. Just look for the Donate button.

“Like” Japanese Gulch on Facebook to get the latest information.

If your best friend is Paul Allen or your sister is married to a billionaire, please ask them to make a lasting difference in our world!

The more our local politicians hear from the voters, the better, so make your voice heard. You can feel good by knowing you are part of the group that helped preserve this parkland forever.

Let’s make history together! We can get this done with your help! The time is now.

Janet Hammerman is a member of the Japanese Gulch Group and a sponsor of the Save the Gulch 2.0 campaign.

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