Waterfront access and you

By Kevin Stoltz, Mukilteo City Councilmember | Jun 12, 2013

Summer is a great time in Mukilteo with the start of Open Mic at the Red Cup Café and the Farmer’s Market at Lighthouse Park. Both events occur every Wednesday throughout the summer with the Farmer’s Market running from 3-7 p.m. and Open Mic from 6-8: p.m.

If you haven’t had a chance to attend these two summertime Mukilteo treasures, you owe it to yourself to try it. I think you’ll like it.

You may have also heard that the Tank Farm transfer from the federal government to the Port or Everett has also finally been approved. Many residents have asked me what this means and how it will affect them.

This month, I thought it might be helpful to provide a road map of sorts to help you navigate through the perceived and actual obstacles that might prevent you from exploring your waterfront, and, to provide a frank view of where we really are on the ongoing Mukilteo waterfront front.

Accessing Mukilteo’s waterfront area on Wednesdays isn’t nearly as difficult as you have been led to believe. The reality is ferry traffic hasn’t increased in more than 15 years.

Lighthouse Park however, has become more popular and draws a lot of people from outside of Mukilteo, so you’ll want to be aware of the peak times.

Your best bet if you’re in a car is to come down SR-525, hang a right at 3rd Street and park either along 3rd Street or in the community center parking lot. From there it’s a short walk to the Red Cup Café in the Lincoln Courtyard for Open Mic.

If you’re headed to the Farmer’s Market at Lighthouse Park, you have several options.

The Farmer’s Market shuttle runs every 30 minutes between the corner of 3rd and Lincoln Avenue (the recommended parking area near the community center) and Lighthouse Park.

If you’re hoofing it from 3rd Street, you can walk across the bridge and then cross SR-525 at the ferry dock intersection. As a pedestrian, be careful. The SR-525 bridge has narrow sidewalks and crossing at the ferry dock intersection can be quite hazardous at times.

Fortunately, there are supposed to be Mukilteo police helping manage that intersection on Wednesdays. Also, the curb trip hazard at that intersection is scheduled to be fixed by Washington State Ferries in June, after a WSDOT engineering manager witnessed the tripping in action last year.

Finally, if you do want to drive down to Lighthouse Park, there is dedicated Farmer’s Market parking.

You’ll have better luck earlier during the market hours and if you notice a backup in the mainline (not the ferry holding line) you’ll be better off just parking on 3rd Street (if the backup extends up to 5th Street, you might want to turn right on 5th and then left on Lincoln).

So, what does the transfer of the Tank Farm mean? For Mukilteo officials, it’s a great opportunity to pat each other on the back or to quote the mayor – “we are one step closer to reclaiming our waterfront.”

For the rest of us, “we’re” one step closer to moving the ferry and turning the rest of the Tank Farm property into a parking lot.

The plan is to build a new ferry terminal, a parking garage, a new four-lane road, which will parallel “our” waterfront and a new intersection off of SR-525 for the new ferry access road.

The new intersection will result in moving the backup of traffic trying to get into Lighthouse Park during nice days further up the hill.

Unfortunately, that’s because most Mukilteo officials still believe that moving the ferry will solve all the “ferry traffic” problems instead of admitting that inadequate mitigation of other development over the past several years is the cause of the additional pedestrian safety, parking and traffic flow problems (remember ferry traffic hasn’t increased over the past 15 years).

Funding to build the new ferry terminal still hasn’t been secured nor has the necessary buyoff from the tribes been obtained.

Although the tribes generally aren’t in favor of moving the ferry, some speculate they will warm up to the idea if the “price” is right.

Assuming the Port of Everett keeps up their end of the “bargain” we may get access back to Edgewater Beach (next to the Boeing Pier), as well as the waterfront access we lost when the Mt. Baker crossing was closed along with First Street to make room for the Boeing Pier and the Sounder Station.

I’m also aware of an effort for the Port of Everett to turn the property over to the city of Mukilteo sometime after the transfer.

Mukilteo, which is in the red with the new community center and is attempting to work out something using banked property tax dollars (i.e. increase your taxes) to purchase property on the west side of Japanese Gulch, would all of a sudden take ownership of the non-committed portions of the Tank Farm.

If that happens before the access previously lost is restored, you might as well write that off also because with the city continuously overextending itself and then mismanaging its assets, the void will have to be filled with additional tax dollars that are already committed to other projects.

So, to summarize what the Tank Farm transfer means. It means we’re one step closer to turning the Tank Farm into a parking lot, increasing traffic congestion on SR-525 (due to the new intersection) and, if we’re lucky, getting some of the waterfront access we previously had back.

Please join Councilmember Steve Schmalz and myself for our monthly Council Chat this Thursday, June 13, from 7:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. in the Rosehill Room at the Rosehill Community Center. Bring your questions, comments, compliments and criticisms.

You can also contact me at kstoltz@ci.mukilteo.wa.us or the entire council and mayor at elected@ci.mukilteo.wa.us.

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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