The recent hearing about the Westgate community was disheartening. Several councilmembers are taking the “over my dead body” approach to prevent change in a neighborhood needing it. Not cosmetic change, but strategic and well-planned action that responds to two facts facing the future of Edmonds.
First, Edmonds is an “older community.” Census data for 2010 showed that 19.1 percent of Edmonds’ population was over 65 years, while Washington state’s percent was but 12.3 percent. Four years later, I assume the Edmonds’ percent has increased.
Many questions follow this fact. Most importantly, how will our neighborhoods be designed and function to respond to an aging population? Most seniors will eventually hand over their driver license, and mobility then becomes difficult. When our spread-out neighborhoods no longer work for the largest segment of our population, what then?
On the other hand, our younger citizens are also looking for well-designed, functional neighborhoods. Places that support work, play and alternative forms of transportation. Just look down to Seattle and up to Everett to see what’s being built, and why. Check out the many revitalized neighborhoods in Portland for what vision and leadership creates.
Time is not standing still; it’s Westgate today, and other neighborhoods later. The challenge is remaking key portions of our city, and doing so soon.
Signs dot the campus of our Swedish hospital. They tell us that their current remodeling is for the “next 50 years.” They know well that strategic, well-planned change is necessary to remain relevant for Edmonds. Does our council understand this simple fact regarding our neighborhoods?