Mukilteo relies on community engagement for a waterfront vision

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MUKILTEO, Wash., May 20, 2022 – The Port of Everett has addressed a number of community engagement strategies and asked Mukilteo residents their vision for the waterfront restoration project. One of these assignments is a Community poll available until May 26thby asking residents of Mukilteo what they do and don’t want to see from the project over the next ten years or so.

Postcards have been sent to thousands of Mukilteo residents with a QR code providing easy access to the survey, which can also be accessed online. As of May 18, the port has received 509 responses.

Photo credit: Kienan Briscoe | Lynnwood times.

“My vision is to execute the vision of the community,” Port of Everett CEO Lisa Lefeber told the Lynnwood Times, “I want the waterfront to be accessible and enjoyable, what that looks like is going to drive that process. “

Recently, the Harbour, NBBJ Architectural Firm and the City of Mukilteo held an open house event on May 5th at the Rosehill Community Center to provide an opportunity for feedback and discussion with a wider community. Residents were invited to participate in the decision-making process and post their ideas or concerns via sticky notes on bulletin boards.

“Overall, we are very pleased with this engagement and public contribution to date,” Catherine Soper, Communications & Marketing Director, said in a statement to the Lynnwood Times. “We had about 250 at the open house and the polls continue every day. The vast majority of interactions at the open house were positive. Participants were very appreciative of the outreach in this regard and overall just excited to see the progress being made for the Waterfront.”

Mukilteo Councilor Jason Moon shared his admiration for the waterfront with The Times.

“My sons and I love going to the waterfront and eating ice cream, so I want to step that up,” Councilman Jason Moon told the Lynnwood Times. “The extension of a place where families can enjoy natural surroundings as well as amenities like food and coffee. The main thing is to offer a place where you can feel comfortable and that is not overbuilt.”

About the redevelopment of the waterfront

Mukilteo Waterfront is unique in that it has 11 property owners covering over 26 acres, 70% of which is undeveloped. In addition to private owners, key stakeholders include the Port of Everett, the City of Mukilteo and the State of Washington.

mukilteo by the water
Copyright: Mario Lotmore| Lynnwood times.

A complicated history of government use and ownership transfers delayed development by nearly two decades, until 2013 when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) abandoned plans to build a new $40 million waterfront facility and transferred ownership to the Port of Everett left.

On January 4, 2016, the City Council approved the Downtown Waterfront Master Plan. The plan outlines a revitalized downtown waterfront that includes local businesses, a winding pedestrian promenade, bike lanes and playful waterfront uses. The aim is for residents and visitors to experience a natural shoreline while celebrating the past, present and future of the Mukilteo waterfront. It takes into account the changes related to the location of the ferry and ferry loading areas while improving pedestrian mobility.

mukilteo by the water
Copyright: Mario Lotmore| Lynnwood times.

The Port of Everett commissioned NBBJ, a Seattle architecture, planning and design firm, to help with this process and vision planning through 2022, and formed an advocacy working group representing the diverse interests and attractions on the water; This group was intentionally a small group representing the broad interests of the Waterfront.

This advocacy group has already held three working group meetings to discuss current waterfront opportunities and constraints, future visions and key principles on which future planning and discussions should focus, and interviewed Mukilteo City Council members to gather feedback and draft a vision statement to develop a draft of a mission statement.

mukilteo by the water
Photo credit: Kienan Briscoe | Lynnwood times.

“When 21,000 residents try to articulate a vision and guiding principles in one room, you get stuck,” said Lisa Lefeber, CEO of the Port of Everett. “What we’ve learned is when you put together a group of diverse stakeholders who are essentially responsible for taking all that feedback and making sure what comes out the other end is consistent and reflects the comments we’re getting it more efficiently and everyone has the opportunity to get involved.”

Waterfront’s draft vision statement states: The Mukilteo Waterfront is filled with adventure, culture and economic opportunities for the community and region. It is an equitable and convenient meeting place offering a sustainable year-round mix of uses, promoting access to the beach and the wonders of the Salish Sea.

Through these conversations, it was determined that the waterfront must be “authentically Mukilteo”, “prudent parking”, pedestrian friendly, environmentally conscious and sustainable, celebrate culture, be education oriented, be a transport hub, have access to boats and shorelines and a year-round destination.

The next steps are to submit a vision statement and guiding principles to the Mukilteo City Council and Ports Commission in June this year, once the results of the survey are available, and to start a planning plan next autumn.

Mukilteo Waterfront: Park Controversies

Mukilteo’s waterfront parking lot remains a gated vacant lot after the city rejected plans last year to use it as an outdoor restaurant and parking lot.

mukilteo by the water
Copyright: Mario Lotmore| Lynnwood times.

For months, the lot was used as a retail and waterfront lot at near full capacity, but after being notified by Community Development Director David Osaki that a city ordinance prohibits parking on this lot, the owners fenced it off on September 2, 2021 , with a sign that says ‘NO PARKING. Mukilteo city code does not allow commercial parking. Call Mukilteo City or City Council members for details.”

Mukilteo Landing LLC co-owners Bill Tacket and Patrick McCord, who own a portion of the lot, were approached by the City of Mukilteo a little over a decade ago and asked if they would be willing to sell their property for the City to do so could expansion of the ferry lanes. They struck an agreement to demolish the Buzz Inn Steakhouse to widen the lanes and were told the city would trade the property back after the new ferry terminal was built. Until a year ago, the owners did not know if and when they would get the property back.

“It’s a shame when there is such a need for shoppers and people wanting to enjoy the waterfront and the parking lots at Lighthouse Park and the Diamond Knot Brewery are always full. It’s a shame that the city doesn’t look at a property from the point of view of its usability, even if it’s an interim use. Logic and common sense should prevail,” McCord told the Lynnwood Times.

Following the move of the Mukilteo/Clinton Ferry Terminal in December 2020, Washington State Ferries’ lease expired on August 31, 2021. Tacket and McCord, expecting to get the property back, contacted the city to ask about using it for additional waterfront parking. Originally, the city informed them of a current city ordinance preventing the use of commercial parking lots that expires in December 2023, and if they wanted to use the space as interim parking while they waited for the ordinance to expire, they could do so.

mukilteo by the water
Copyright: Mario Lotmore| Lynnwood times.

The zone code defines commercial parking as “Commercial parking means a space designated for the parking of more than two vehicles, located within or adjacent to a commercial or industrial area and for which an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly fee is charged for that Parking a private vehicle.”

The owners opened the space for parking, but were later informed by the city that it could not be approved for interim commercial parking under the current zoning as there was no attached commercial activity.

“The problem is that the former ferry terminal’s holding lanes do not meet these requirements to allow conversion to temporary commercial parking use. Among other things, the main use (the ferry terminal) was not on the same “package” as the ferry terminal holding lanes,” Osaki told the Lynnwood Times.

After McCord and Tacket feel discouraged that the city has ruined every idea they had for their property, they have no idea what their next steps are.

“We are basically at a loss. I see no harm in making public use of it. Obviously it’s going to be difficult to find parking there for years to come,” Tacket told the Lynnwood Times.

On August 5, 2021, Ivar’s began al fresco dining at Parklet. The Mukilteo Fire Marshall personally informed Ivar at the restaurant on August 6, 2021 that they need flood, shoreline and land use permits, adding that the exit gate was two inches too short, which Ivar’s management simply picked up on and postponed to accommodate the to fulfill requirement.

When Tacket and McCord of Mukilteo Landing LLC heard about Ivar’s attempt to open outdoor seating, they offered the restaurant their portion of the property for the additional 13 parking spaces needed by the city.

It later found that the $3,000 cost of improving the parklet fell below the $7,000 minimum, freeing Ivar’s from the public hearing requirement the city was attempting to impose on the restaurant before it could use the space.

The port has worked closely with the city and Ivar to redesign the park and revitalize the former ferry to offer visitors an al fresco dining area and improve public access to the shore. Lisa Lefeber told the Lynnwood Times that it should be open through Memorial Day weekend.

As part of the transfer back to port, NOAA will demolish any structures that should provide an opportunity for temporary shore access. Demolition is planned for this spring.

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