Edmonds launches highway 99 renewal project with first open house
At an uncrowded virtual open house on Wednesday evening, representatives from the City of Edmonds and project consultants presented initial plans for the Highway 99 community renewal project.
Smaller than the Highway 99 sub-sector plan approved in 2017, the project aims to address issues related to unattended buildings, dangerous traffic conditions, impacts on roaming and nuisances by identifying a set of of potential actions the city could take to help renovate the neighborhood. Wednesday’s open house was the first effort to present these goals and engage the community to help shape, modify and develop appropriate actions to put them on the ground.
“We want to make the Highway 99 community more livable,” said Mayor Mike Nelson, welcoming the 14 participants who registered for the virtual meeting. “Challenges like abandoned buildings have been around for years. Tonight is the first stop in a series that will allow us to do more on the road to make the section of Highway 99 in Edmonds more liveable and welcoming. We want to hear from you as we go along.
“We have been working on plans for Highway 99 for a long time,” said Shane Hope, Director of Development Services, referring to the work underway arising from the 2017 Highway 99 sub-area plan, to the designs of the works. public for the corridor and the ongoing planning of the parks. “On the other hand, this plan addresses the short and medium term problems aimed at the quality of life / habitability along the corridor. “
Director of Economic Development Patrick Doherty stressed the importance of this effort to help make the region a prosperous and economically vital community. “This is an area that over the years has seen the least investment of public and private funds,” Doherty said. “Our goal is to attract more investment, housing, businesses and jobs. Making the area more livable, safe and welcoming will pave the way for this. “
Recognizing that parks potentially have an important role to play in making this transition happen, Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, Angie Feser, called on participants to participate by responding to the survey on the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services website. open spaces (PROS) to let managers know what they want. .
The last city official to speak was Director of Public Works and Utilities Phil Williams, who quickly reviewed other projects underway in the area. These are the new landscaped median of Highway 99, the facade improvement at the southern end of the project area, and additional traffic and pedestrian improvements focused on the section between the 224th and 220th Street (see details in My Edmonds News cover here).
“These are above all safety projects designed to cope with the high incidence of vehicle / vehicle and vehicle / pedestrian accidents along this corridor,” he said. “But (they) will also bring improvements for pedestrians, better traffic control – especially left turns – lighting and, of course, landscaping, which will help improve the livability of the area. “
The vital importance of public participation in the process was echoed by all officials present as they stressed that in addition to providing information, the open house will be a catalyst to inspire and elicit ideas from the community.
The remainder of the program was devoted to the consulting team of Fregonese Associates. Director Scott Fregonese described the data collected to date and what this information might tell us about the region and its needs.
“We consider the corridor to include three districts identified for the first time in 2017,” he explained. “This is the health district anchored by the Swedish campus (hospital), the international district comprising the several blocks near the Ranch 99 market and the Gateway district running from there south to the county line. We also took a close look at the most recent census tract demographics – particularly areas 507, 508, and 509 – which provided valuable information. “
He described the objectives of the project, which include leading a planning process focused on “inclusive and meaningful” public engagement, developing strategies and actions for short and medium term investments and solutions, and creating an implementation framework that encourages continued community participation and collaboration. In addition to involving individuals, the latter includes connecting with neighborhood partners such as faith and neighborhood groups and professional associations.
Fregonese presented a series of charts and tables that graphically display this data, including comparative breakdowns by age, race and ethnicity, homeowners vs. renters, poverty level, median income, and median house values. For comparison, he included data from the City of Edmonds, Snohomish County, and Washington State, finding in many cases that the study area data more closely mirrors that of the county. and the State, rather than those of the Town of Edmonds. He attributed this in part to the higher cost of housing in Edmonds and the economic disparity between Edmonds and surrounding areas. These graphics can be viewed in his PowerPoint presentation here.
He concluded his presentation with survey questions designed to bring out and give a first idea of what is important to participants. The questions included what you love most about your life here, what concerns you most about this zone, what part of the zone you currently reside in, and your highest priorities for improvement. The latter identified creating a sense of security and providing more parks / open spaces as the top priorities. The full survey results will be posted on the project website in the coming days.
Once the formal presentation was completed, the session opened for questions and answers.
Asked about future opportunities for public engagement, Fregonese stressed that future plans will hopefully include face-to-face meetings with a higher turnout as word of the project spreads. He took the opportunity to re-emphasize the importance of sharing information about the effort with family, friends and neighborhood groups to involve more people.
Several participants were interested in the role that Ballinger Lake Park could play in improving the region. Director of Parks Angie Feser responded that while only a small boat launch and parts of the intercity trail fall under Edmonds, she is actively working with the Town of Mountlake Terrace on partnerships that would improve the park. of Lake Ballinger “in its entirety”.
Others wanted to know more about the abandoned building treatment plans, to which Fregonese responded that this effort provides a great opportunity for public / private partnerships where the city could work with building owners on plans benefiting. both to the community and to the owners.
The last questions were about maintaining a healthy balance between housing development and business development. Fregonese responded that the hope is to consider the need for affordable housing and balance that in a way that brings the most prosperity to the community in both housing and commerce.
The project timeline calls for the presentation of detailed findings and recommendations at a public meeting in October / November, with a final plan ready to be presented to Edmonds City Council next spring.
The session ended with another call to spread the word and encourage others to learn about the project, visit the website, and sign up to receive email updates.
– By Larry Vogel