The Edmonds City Council Tuesday night spent about an hour discussing possible next steps regarding future development of Harbor Square in light of the Port of Edmonds’ decision to withdraw its proposal for the property, which could have opened the door to taller mixed-use commercial/residential buildings on the site.
In the end, councilmembers chose to delay further discussion and a possible decision until May 7, when two of their absent members — Strom Peterson and Diane Buckshnis — would be back in town. Buckshnis did call in for part of the meeting Tuesday, but Peterson was unable to do so.
Among the questions raised during the discussion were whether the council could indeed move forward with its own plan for the site now that the port had officially withdrawn (City Attorney Jeff Taraday said they could) and whether City of Edmonds staff had the bandwidth, given recent budget cuts, to take on the work involved in further developing the concept.
The council did take action on two major items, however. First, they agreed to include in future planning the revitalization of the two-mile section of Highway 99 that runs through Edmonds, similar what the City of Shoreline accomplished with its section of Highway 99 — median landscaping, pedestrian-friendly features, safe crosswalks and similar amenities. The idea would be to improve the aesthetics of the highway to benefit businesses and attract more economic development, and create a gateway — “something that would at least announce to a traveler on Highway 99 that you were in Edmonds,” City Public Works Director Phil Williams said.
While there is no current funding source for the plan, State Rep. Marko Liias has included the project as part of a large statewide transportation package currently before the state Legislature, Williams noted.
In addition, the council unanimously approved a request from King County and the City of Seattle to contribute $5,000 toward an assessment of health impacts of the proposed Pacific Gateway Coal Terminal proposal, which would result in a significant increase in coal trains running along the Edmonds waterfront.
You can watch a rebroadcast of the entire council meeting at noon and 7 p.m. daily through Comcast channel 21 and Frontier channel 39 or watch online via the city’s website.