My vision of Edmonds

By Barbara Tipton | Jun 10, 2010
The farm to market road begins in the fertile Snohomish valley and ends at the western edge of downtown Edmonds near the shores of Puget Sound. Shoppers, tourists, artisans and farmers make their way to the year-round public market.

The building’s façade reflects the history of Native Americans, loggers, mill workers and railroad builders. Yet the infrastructure is cutting edge as evidenced by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification medallion that forms the building’s cornerstone.

The germination of this project began in 2009 when a group of Edmonds citizens came across a copy of the Economic Opportunity Report commissioned by Snohomish County Commissioner Aaron Reardon.

The study concluded that a market located in the southern sector of Snohomish County would be economically feasible.

The assessment report provided a prototype of a viable permanent market in terms of size and scope necessary to attract a steady flow of visitors.

The 15,000 square foot market building could accommodate 100 vendor stalls. Five medium‐sized restaurants and additional retail space totaling 27,500 square feet were recommended as complementary uses along with an additional 25,000 square feet of common area for public spaces (including parks and performance areas) and a cold storage facility so that farmers could store their produce rather than hauling it back and forth each day.

In 2009, Edmonds was grappling with the effects of the economic crisis and searching for answers.

A large piece of property, formerly occupied by a Safeway market, adjacent to the railroad tracks lay fallow; the senior center west of the tracks was falling into a state of disrepair; the Harbor Square properties south of Dayton Street were aging and beginning to sink into the fill that separated the buildings from the decomposed marsh plants below.

But a group of citizens galvanized a public-private effort to purchase the Old Safeway and Skippers properties as a future site for the public market.

This undertaking spurred the city to see the now successful market as the centerpiece of a revitalized downtown core.

The new senior center – now a multi-generational activity center – stands adjacent to the market that bustles with energy all day long.

A new parking garage concentrates automobiles in one place and is topped with a green roof as environmental mitigation.

The historic Rose House was moved to the site of the Old Skippers property and now serves as a visitor center welcoming all who enter our town. This tableau is framed by the Olympic Mountains topped with glacier-capped peaks visible when the fog gives way to sunlight.

The Port of Edmonds was spurred to think outside the box and jettisoned their plan to build a mixed-use urban village. 

On the site of the Harbor Square property south of the market, workers are manufacturing solar panels - a 21st century version of a working port.

Creative people are working on artistic and scientific projects in lofts, and ground floor spaces are occupied by a Native American museum, an industrial museum devoted to our early history as a logging and milling town, a transportation museum focusing mainly on the Burlington Northern railroad, and Thayer Cueter’s amphibian center.

An interpretive center forms the gateway to the city owned Edmonds Marsh that was previously hidden behind nondescript buildings and asphalt parking lots.

The Friends of the Edmonds Marsh received funding for restoring the hydrology in the marsh system and day lighted Willow Creek, which not only improved storm water management but also restored native plant, fish and wildlife resources.

Over 200 bird species, including migratory shorebirds, now live in or visit the marsh.

Birdwatchers, walkers, and tourists can now circumnavigate the marsh on a boardwalk and cross the footbridge to the Native Plant Demonstration Garden at the Willow Creek Fish Hatchery.

A Pilchuck Audubon volunteer greets those who have made the crossing and guides the guests along the trails winding through the rejuvenated site.

The aroma wafting from the Western Red Cedars, the music of native bird song and the landscape of native plants that replaced the persistent blackberries and other invasive vegetation lift the soul and erase the memory of the Chevron storage tanks that once despoiled the landscape.

And those condos that weren’t selling are now filled with people who were drawn to Edmonds.

The vacant commercial space is now occupied by non-profits and start-up companies.

Downtown merchants keep their stores and restaurants open until 9 p.m. due to the increased foot traffic.

Like Port Townsend, Edmonds now hosts a variety of arts, cultural, environmental and maritime festivals drawing visitors from all over the country and beyond.

The hotels on State Highways 99 and 104 are filled with visitors.

The city’s electric busses shuttle people to the downtown core and waterfront. People board the buses at the hotels, the Lynnwood light rail station, the urban villages (Perrinville, Five Corners, and Firdale), and the Lynnwood Convention Center. Tourists visiting Seattle in the summer board the Sounder Train at King Street Station and arrive at the Edmonds Amtrak Station.

Sound Transit reached an agreement with Burlington Northern to provide this service on weekends.

The city coffers are again filled; the city is a destination for tourists; and we take pride in what we have built.

The realization of our vision sprang from our inner desire to create, to forge a link between our past and future, and to leave a legacy to those who will follow. 

We achieved that fine balance between economic development and ecological preservation.

Our actions echo the words of John Dernbach, Professor of Law at Widener University Law School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who remarked, “the decisions we make about sustainable development are about who we are, what we value, what kind of world we want to live in, and how we want to be remembered.”


I was inspired by Linda Danielson and Asma Dakhil who expressed their aspirations for a greater variety of services and activities in Edmonds parks. Those women took the time to share their thoughts with all of us who look forward to reading our hometown newspaper, The Edmonds Beacon.
 I request that you dedicate my work to those two women, and to all those who care about our town.
Barbara Tipton

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