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There’s a hole in my glass

 

September 12, 2012



This month I’ve found there are more topics to comment on than available space.

The plastic bag ban proposed by the city’s Sustainability Committee and approved by the council will be implemented in Mukilteo.

I do find the comments by Todd Meyers in the Aug. 23 Beacon [“The trendy drive to ban plastic bags: Does it really help the environment?,” Guest View, page 4] to be very compelling and make me think maybe the council has been duped.

Or perhaps the letter by John Baker in the Aug. 29 Beacon (“Citywide bag ban is foolish,” Letters, page 4] is a more accurate representation of the reality in Mukilteo (maybe it’s the council that did the duping).

Regardless, if only we could put as much effort into fiscal sustainability as we do in environmental sustainability, I think we’d be much better off.

Equally interesting were the comments from Kirk Galatis, Mukilteo Firefighter Association president in the Aug. 22 Beacon [“Fire services: Do more with less,” Guest View, page 4] that discussed the potential to save the city money and maintain if not exceed service levels by contracting with Fire District 1.

Sounds like a good idea that apparently we are considering, although I don’t think there are the votes, and the administration will undoubtedly drag their feet, so we don’t realize any of the potential cost savings until we can figure out what fire service REALLY costs in Mukilteo.

However, long overdue for additional discussion is the state of the business district in Old Town and what we can really do about it [“Closed in Old Town” by Sara Bruestle, front page, Aug. 15].

As a councilmember living in Old Town and a small business owner now for more than 20 years, I definitely take exception to opinions presented as fact by people interviewed in the article who really should know better.

The first problem businesses in Old Town Mukilteo face is the incorrect perception that ferry traffic impedes people from successfully getting to businesses in Old Town.

This falsehood has been deceptively promoted by the city for years and many potential customers and even some of the affected businesses have bought into it. Some of us have joked that what we really need is a sign on the Speedway that says, “Hey Harbour Pointe, TURN LEFT.”

Ferry traffic has NOT increased any over the past 15 years. This fact is supported by available data that has been provided to (and ignored by) top city officials.

There’s not a whole lot that can be done to improve the business climate in Old Town until people accept the fact that the ferry isn’t the problem.

When a handful of us created the Waterfront Wednesdays concept three years ago, one of our primary objectives was to create an environment in Old Town to not only attract Mukilteans to the waterfront area for activities including the Farmer’s Market, Open Mic and movies at the beach but to also improve the business climate.

Business specials and activities were an important part of the formula as was improved pedestrian safety and access between Lighthouse Park and the upper Old Town area.

We initiated the shuttle still being operated by the Mukilteo Seniors between the Rosehill Community Center in upper Old Town and the Farmer’s Market at Lighthouse Park.

It was a great idea that lasted for two years, and was gaining incredible momentum, despite the obstacles thrown in our path by top city officials.

Our committee didn’t have the time or resources to fight full-time paid city officials who were determined to see the demise of Waterfront Wednesdays so we decided to discontinue our efforts last year. Unfortunately, it’s the failed and struggling businesses that are paying the price.

Traffic flow and parking has become an increasing problem, especially close to the waterfront, not because of the ferry but because city officials have failed to ensure that the changes they make and approve also include appropriate mitigation to keep our residents and visitors safe while creating a prosperous and vibrant community.

Improvements at Lighthouse Park, an expanded ferry holding area, and a new community center have not had adequate mitigation to provide safe traffic and pedestrian flow or adequate consideration of parking.

Unfortunately, we are still on a downward spiral. Paid parking is being considered at Lighthouse Park and, as far as I can tell, the council is going to approve some form of it, and may even extend it to the entire waterfront area.

This plan will discourage even more residents from coming to the waterfront area and will hurt businesses.

The current plan is ill conceived, inadequately vetted (the council makes some suggestions but when the initial plan has so many problems you still end up with a half-baked solution in the end) and will be another step in the wrong direction.

When the ferry moves, more businesses will be damaged. The Ivar’s fish bar will probably go away and the nine businesses in the Art Building will also go away, as the building will be destroyed.

Considering ferry traffic hasn’t increased in the past 15 years, what does the estimated $130 million to move the terminal really buy us?

I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it again. I truly am a “glass half full guy.”

What makes me different is I don’t ignore the hole in the bottom of the glass. The first step to fixing the hole is to first acknowledge that one exists. We’ve been ignoring the hole for way too long.

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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