Letter to the editor: City can’t afford to ‘do nothing’ on Sunset Avenue


Dear Editor:

I spent my 20th birthday somewhere near the middle of Lake Superior. That year I worked as a deck hand on the SS Lehigh, which was an ore carrier in the Bethlehem Steel Company’s fleet hauling iron ore, dolomite and coal to various steel mills on the Great Lakes.

There is one tiny memory that has stuck with me ever since that summer that I’ll share. One afternoon the First Mate was showing his three deck hands how he wanted some chore done. It involved two people to accomplish the task. He had chosen Les to help him demonstrate. Les, however, wasn’t in a helping mood and after about three or so minutes a very frustrated First Mate stopped and looked hard at poor Les and said, “Oh for God’s sake, just do something even if it is wrong!!”

There were, I’m sure, some expletives that my memory has since deleted. But that is not the point of this piece. What the purpose is, is to say that the proposed pedestrian sidewalk along the west side of Sunset isn’t a bad idea. There have been worse ideas proposed in Our Fair City; fortunately, most didn’t get too far. But as far as ideas go this one isn’t totally without merit.

To begin, every morning my dog and I wander the streets of Edmonds about an average of five miles. It has always puzzled me as to why there are so few sidewalks. The lack of sidewalks is a remarkable feature of Edmonds and also a slightly dangerous feature given that some drivers aren’t as cautious as they might be, particularly at night.

It is, therefore, not remarkable that Edmonds’ walking score, as determined by walkscore.com, is 42 out of a possible 100. Seattle only received a 71 score and it has sidewalks and loads more cars. Seattle also received a transit score of 57 and a biking rating of 64. “Edmonds”, according to walkscore.com, “is a Car-Dependent city”, therefore didn’t receive either a transit or biking score, albeit we could use some more buses and more than a few bike paths.

I will admit that I haven’t spent a lot of time studying the particulars of this proposed walkway idea and I also admit that originally the concept didn’t strike me as a particularly good one. The artist’s rendering was fairly slick and showed a stylish promenade. I’m not convinced that it needs to be 10 feet wide. Six or seven feet would be fine as there is already a four-foot walkway on the east side of Sunset.

I’m also reasonably certain that the BNSF railroad company won’t be overly cooperative. That possibility alone may kill the project. But I hope it doesn’t.

The anti-Sunset contingent appears to conclude that not as many people use Sunset’s west side foot path as portrayed by the pro-Sunset folks. The anti-Sunset contingent wants to know what is going to happen to all the parking spaces. Admittedly, that needs to be addressed, but the parking space issue can be resolved.

Then there is the question – Is there a better way to spend the monies that will be used for this particular project (should the promenade get the green light)?

Well, yeah!

Probably the City could spend the money on building sidewalks in the neighborhoods where sidewalks are really needed. There’s at least half dozen other projects needing money, such as the repair/maintenance of the City’s roads, infrastructure or safety improvements, not to mention the Parks Department could a few extra dollars.

But at the end of the day, the City of Edmonds cannot afford to do nothing. I can still hear the First Mate’s words of frustration ringing in my ears as if it were yesterday – “… just do something, even if it is wrong!!”

Eric Livingston

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