Mukilteo Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

By David Pan 

Tulalip Tribes expresses disappointment with Mukilteo City Council

Tulalip board of directors say they should have been consulted earlier about city's plans for Mukilteo Lane


Last updated 1/20/2021 at 11:09am

David Pan

The city's proposed plans to rework traffic on the Mount Baker railroad crossing prompted a meeting with the Tulalip Tribes.

The Mukilteo City Council got the message from the Tulalip Tribes.

The tribes' board of directors were clear in saying that the Tulalip Tribes should have been consulted earlier by the city about its proposal to address residents' concerns about traffic and safety issues on Mukilteo Lane.

A motion to encourage the city to work with Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) to close the Mount Baker railroad crossing was proposed in December, and postponed to the Jan. 4 council meeting. At that meeting, city staff presented its preferred solution to address residents' concerns about Mukilteo Lane.

Mukilteo Council Vice President Bob Champion apologized that the city did not reach out earlier to the tribes.

Council President Sarah Kneller pledged to build on and enhance the relationship between the tribes and the city.

"My desire is to have a strong positive relationship with the tribes," Councilmember Richard Emery added.

Emery said he regretted the activities of the council and city in December and January, and acknowledged how the actions

could be seen as disrespectful to the tribes.

Public Works Director Andrea Swisstack detailed the city's proposal during a joint Zoom meeting between the Tulalip Tribes board of directors and the Mukilteo City Council Thursday, Jan. 14.

The city's proposal, which has not been acted on by the council, includes a number of changes on Mukilteo Lane and the Mount Baker railroad crossing. The Mount Baker crossing would be changed to one-way northbound. The west side of Mukilteo Lane would be one-way eastbound, and the east side of Mukilteo Lane would shift from two-way to one-way westbound, west of the western-most driveway.

The Tulalip Tribes owns undeveloped property directly north of the Mount Baker crossing and one member of the Board of Directors said that the proposed changes directly impact the tribes, which is why the tribes were disappointed they were not consulted.

Access to the Tulalip Tribes property is through Mukilteo Lane and the Mount Baker railroad crossing. The city looked at a number of different options, including closing the Mount Baker crossing.

"We've had a great relationship over the years," board member Melvin Sheldon Jr. said.

So it came as such a surprise when the tribes learned of the city's proposal, Sheldon said.

"It's all about tribal consultation," said Tulalip Tribes Board Chairwoman Teri Gobin, noting that the tribes' ancestors have a long history with the property. "Before it was even announced, it would have been nice to have that conversation."

Gobin said Tulalip Tribes doesn't know what it is going to do with the property at this time.

"It's a unique piece of property," board Vice Chairman Glen Gobin said. "A lot of history transpired there."

Glen Gobin reassured the council that the foundation of the relationship between the tribes and the city is still strong.

"We're on the bridge, but it's not broken," he said. "Communication, that's the best tool we have right now."

After hearing the presentation by Swisstack, Teri Gobin said that the Tulalip Tribes board of directors intends to have a full conversation on the issue and get back to the city.

The city also is reaching out to BNSF, Washington State Ferries, Sound Transit, Community Transit and the city of Everett. Part of Mukilteo Lane is in Everett. The council has not yet made a final decision on the matter. The proposed plan was developed by city staff and is being considered by the council.


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