Why I oppose the Harbor Square Master Plan

With our fiber optics access, we could attract tech, engineering, environmental research, and/or consulting businesses
By Joan Bloom | Dec 13, 2012

I love Edmonds. I love the way the sun dips below the clouds as it sets after a long overcast day. I love the rainbows that appear when the sun pops from behind a cloud while it's raining.

I love that my children were raised here. I love that I know so many people who live and work here. I love that I am in a position to be one of the stewards of our city's future.

I also love the views of the water and mountains as I walk down Main or Dayton. I love thinking about how our views and gorgeous setting could be the key to the future of Edmonds, the key to figuring out how we can draw more people here to enjoy its beauty, while taking advantage of our shops, restaurants, and services.

At the Council meeting on Dec. 4, fellow citizens were not talking about the excitement of the views, our environment, and our setting, they were talking about a proposal that would capture views for the profit and benefit of a few -- the Port's Harbor Square Master Plan that includes mixed use, residential and retail, in buildings as high as 55 feet.

Think about that for a minute. We were discussing how a few could profit -- with a debatable economic benefit to Edmonds -- from a project that is projected to be in place decades from now, and only after thousands of city staff, legal, and council hours (paid for by the citizens of Edmonds) have been expended reviewing the thousands of pages of studies, reports, legal documents, proposals, applications, and what not.

This Master Plan would determine how the Harbor Square properties would look, not just twenty or so years from now, but decades into the future.

Our gorgeous setting is a gift of nature. Why does one  generation have the right to deface this gift for countless future generations, just to deal with a current downturn in the economy?

What kind of stewardship is that? And it isn't even practical, because the considerable construction period would hurt our local businesses, while the possible (but in no way guaranteed) benefits are a long way off.

Responding to our current financial crisis with this plan is akin to responding to a 911 call by introducing the possibility of a new fire or police station.

And why are we even considering a plan that raises height limits near the waterfront -- a consideration that has been turned down by Edmonds voters countless times?

The downtown is our heart. The waterfront is our future.

The only reasonable way to guide the future is to take responsibility for what we can accomplish in the near term.

That begins with discussions of what we want and will support now. Together, we can develop plans for the short term, and done right, the short term begets the long term.

Port Director Bob McChesney was gracious enough to give me a tour of the Harbor Square properties. The entire second floors of two of the buildings are vacant.

Mr. McChesney explained that an investment of perhaps a couple hundred thousand dollars would be required for the Port to upgrade those buildings to attract additional tenants.

With our fiber optics access, we could attract tech, engineering, environmental research, and/or consulting businesses. Or perhaps an artists' cooperative, with studios for rent, on one of the floors. There are many possibilities.

I'm confused why Mr. McChesney and other Port officials have shown an unwillingness to consider anything other than a mega-project fraught with obstacles and uncertainties.

The approval process will be lengthy, while reaching the end point of the Port's proposal includes the assumption that there will be no obstructing appeals or lawsuits -- a naive assumption considering our City's recent history.

It will take effort to face our differences of opinion and come to agreement to implement immediate solutions.

I believe that we are up to the challenge. Because, after all, we all love Edmonds.

There will be another public hearing on the Port's Harbor Square Master Plan on Tuesday, Dec. 18 in Council Chambers.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

Please come, or write to council at Council@ci.edmonds.wa.us, and express your opinion.



Comments (1)
Posted by: Tere Ryder | Dec 26, 2012 16:28

Here, here!  I have lived in Edmonds for three 3 years now and have read and heard ad nauseum from a certain group of business entities and many of our officials charged with running our city, their vision of "Economic Development" and how good THEIR  ideas and gigantic long term plans would be good for this small town.  Clearly, people with ties to development, construction, real estate, etc.  could not possibly be objective in regards to what is really for the benefit of the citizens of this town when ALL economic development is only construction, buildings, etc........Everything I have read for 3 years has been in regards to development that would line the pockets of a select few.......developers, real estate, construction contractors, etc.

The people of Edmonds need to say NO to all of these ridiculous   plans that only pay-off for a select few, AND next time elections roll around, make sure there is not one person helping run this city, with ties to ANY of these entities that are using it for their monetary gains and business work.

Christmas eve afternoon I was at Petosas grocery store and found out this one small independent grocery will be closing and all of the 20+ people will be out of work.......There is only one independent grocery in this town, and all of these people going on and on (as nauseum, as stated earlier) about "ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT" with not a care in the world to REAL economic development, as they sit by talking about pie in the sky buildings on the water front for 3 years that I know of, while this 20 year small local business closes it's doors and 20+ people loose their jobs. Now, there's some ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT they should have been having  discussions about.......I don't doubt for a minute that everyone of these people knew this was coming down. ....and that doesn't include the many other businesses that have closed here

THIS! is what the people of Edmonds need to have a discussion about.....real economic development.  Don't be fooled by these select few.

If you wish to comment, please login.