Tomorrow’s Harbor Square to grow from today’s public process

By Bob McChesney, Executive Director, the Port of Edmonds | May 05, 2011

Many people already know that the Port of Edmonds is engaged in a process to determine the future of the Harbor Square business complex. The important word here is “process.”

As stewards of the multi-million dollar marina and adjacent Harbor Square, the Port is ever aware that these properties belong to the citizens of our community.

It is vitally important, therefore, that the process be a fully transparent public process.

At the moment we are nearing completion of the second phase of the public input process. We expect to conclude late this month or in early June.

The two-phase process began last year with a feasibility study to help determine what type of mixed-use development might work best at Harbor Square.

That was followed by a series of public meetings and open houses to obtain comments by the public.

A great deal of valuable input came from those gatherings that helped frame the issues that have guided the planning process.

Input from the public has been critically important and the Port of Edmonds is optimistic about gaining community support for redevelopment at Harbor Square.

On the other hand, continuing through the planning process has helped to further illustrate several potential challenges that need to be addressed before a final preferred redevelopment scenario will be approved.

Some of these include protection of the adjoining Edmonds Marsh, storm water, public access, public views and environmental sustainability.

The Port has followed a well-defined process to insure that important community issues will be addressed before a redevelopment master plan at Harbor Square can be approved. A professional architectural firm was retained to provide guidance and create realistic concept renderings.

A team of graduate students from the University of Washington with advanced degrees in architecture, landscape design and construction management produced a high-tech view shed analysis to show how the various development options might look from any given point overlooking the Edmonds waterfront.

In addition, a 14-member steering committee was established. Members were carefully selected to represent a wide diversity of interests in the Edmonds and Woodway communities. That group has met several times with the architects, working together on possible development concepts.

Looking ahead, another public open house is planned for early summer. At that time we will present the committee’s findings and show drawings of the alternatives.

The public open house will help guide the Port Commissioners in their choice of a final development option.

Once the selection is made it will be added to the Port’s master plan and submitted to the Edmonds City Council where, when approved, it will become an amendment to the City’s comprehensive plan.

Every step of this process has focused on public input.

As stewards of the Port of Edmonds and its holdings, the Port Commissioners are acutely conscious that the needs and wishes of the community they serve are paramount.

Redevelopment will not be an overnight process. It is likely that people will not see new construction at Harbor Square for at least five years. 

Meanwhile, watch this column and your local media for news of the forthcoming public open house. Your opinions are shaping the future of Harbor Square.

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