To town hall or not to town hall ...

By Dave Earling, mayor of Edmonds | Sep 24, 2015

There is a letter in today's edition of the Edmonds Beacon concerning a request received by the City Council to hold a town hall meeting on the Sunset Avenue Walkway Project. The letter was sent to the council, and I am assuming (since I did not receive the letter), the letter and request may well be from the same person.

Even though I did not receive the letter, I gave the request considerable thought and as part of the consideration asked the staff to review the number of times Sunset has been placed on the council agenda.

Here are the results of the review: Sunset Walkway has been on the council agenda 12 different times – four of those times with public comment invited as a portion of the agenda item.

Of the remaining eight times, extensive comment was received from interested citizens under audience comment. In addition, there was a meeting at the Plaza Room specifically on Sunset Avenue which was very well attended.

Beyond the above, there have been many Letters to the Editor submitted to The Beacon as well as extensive comments on By now the council certainly has heard an enormous volume and cross-section of community opinion.

Now, at the request of the council, staff is currently pulling together further feedback from the public with on-site visits, asking questions of local citizens and out of town visitors, as well as studying parking patterns, traffic speeds, congestion issues and safety issues.

Staff is preparing an online polling tool to receive even further community feedback. All of this work and results will be brought to council for their consideration, analysis, and decision. You can be sure the council will ask for and receive further public comment, as they should.

As many of you know, I have held town halls for the past couple of years. We have scheduled the meetings around the community in different geographic locations – Perrinville, Highway 99, Point Edwards, top of the Library and Swedish Edmonds Hospital. And, for the most part, we have kept the same format for all meetings with our Directors in attendance to discuss activities within their various departments.

The exception to the general format mentioned above, is when the coal/oil train issue came to light. While very important, the meeting was time consuming to assemble and a challenge for the staff to organize as we had a variety of speakers to co-ordinate from around the region.

With the Sunset Walkway Project, I believe the council and staff have gone out of their way to hear from and interact with the public. And there is still more opportunity yet to come.

Whatever the end decision regarding the project, the council has asked hard questions, listened to the opinions and gathered information. Will everyone be satisfied with the end decision? Probably not, but to suggest the community has not participated and been listened to is simply not the case.


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