This is the third of three articles I’m writing regarding economic conditions in Edmonds. Again, the goal of these writings is to encourage all of us to think and act more proactively toward moving our city forward while preserving our desirable character and benefits here on Puget Sound. In the first two of these writings, I recapped some of our recent economic history and struggles in sustaining our city. The question is: Where do we go from here?
Below is a very short partial list of action items [wants and needs] extracted from various city-published plans for Edmonds. Most, if not all, of these items have either been proffered or supported by taxpaying residents. In NO ORDER or priority:
- New and/or more sidewalks, bike lanes
- Increased paving or repaving
- Master plan and redevelop Edmonds sections of SR-99
- New aquatic center
- Upgrade/renovate Francis Anderson Center
- At-grade RR crossing solution(s)
- Restore Edmonds Marsh
- Acquire [purchase] more waterfront and ‘public lands’ property
- Upgrade/repair/maintain city facilities [buildings and infrastructure]
- More downtown parking capacity [garage, lots, etc.]
- Marina Beach Park, plus another dog park
- Civic Fields/ with existing stadium—a new stadium, or fix up existing?
- Year-round farmers market
- Downtown-waterfront shuttle service
- Redevelop the Senior Center
- A boutique hotel somewhere
- Affordable housing
- More retail to increase sales tax revenue
At the same time, some residents [and historically, some councilmembers] are very forthright about what we/they don’t want:
- More condos
- More residential on the waterfront or Westgate
- ‘Tall’ buildings
- More demands from ‘developers’
- Edmonds to ‘become’ another Kirkland
On the surface these two sets of goals aren’t in conflict—until you look at it from an economic perspective. are Do we need we to increase RE tax revenues beyond our current budgeting limitations in order to achieve items on our ‘wish list’? More pointedly, how can we finance new improvements, facilities, or services in Edmonds without adequate grant funds or additional taxpayer dollars beyond our current 1% RE tax increase restriction?
With respect to the ‘don’t want’ list above, a word about development: In Edmonds, development must start with property owners. Independent real estate developers [individuals or companies] do not seek out projects unless there’s a profit-making opportunity. If we want development or re-development in Edmonds, start by looking at property owners. If they want to develop for their own benefit [and, presumably, ‘profit’] they will initiate action when/if economically advantageous to themselves. Depending on the size of the undertaking they may or not work in conjunction with an outside development company. If Edmonds can create an economic climate that satisfy these criteria we may be able to motivate a given development that benefits the property owner, the developer, and the city; what a concept!
Even a cursory look at the ‘do want’ list it’s evident that if Edmonds wants to achieve any of our wants, we must continue to strategize, prioritize, and implement budgeting and expenditure plans in order to make them a reality. While the new budget recently prepared and proposed by our mayor points to important recovery/restorative measures for Edmonds, we have a ways to go in terms of recovery, and a long way to go in accomplishing many of the items on our ‘wish list’. It really boils down to this: If we want to preserve both the character and benefits of Edmonds while including new and/or additional aspects for us and for our sustainable future, are we willing to pay for it, and how do we pay for it?
I urge all of us to think about what more we want for our city—and then do something about it. We have a wonderful professional staff, governing structure, and dedicated organizations that address virtually every aspect of life in Edmonds. While we recognize that many taxpaying residents may be on fixed incomes which limit additional financial capability, there are a myriad of opportunities for civic engagement, volunteerism, public input, support, and leadership available to all of us in moving forward. If we’re interested in the status and direction of Edmonds we need to participate in the process. We need to keep up with both the news and developing trends, stay better informed, and support necessary fundraising measures designed to move us forward. Get involved earlier as taxpaying citizens who want more for our city, both now, and for the future.
And finally, this is election season. For many months now we’ve been hearing and reading of dissatisfaction and frustration over the lack of unity and direction within our City Council. We should look for leadership characteristics in candidates that can advance publically-supported ideas, communicate, and collaborate in actions towards achieving what we want in Edmonds. Perhaps we won’t reach consensus among all citizens in our forward movement but we should at least look for same within our leadership matrix.
— By Phil Lovell
Phil Lovell, P.E., MASCE retired in 2003 as Vice President of the Turner Construction Company. Since then he has been heavily involved in volunteer civic efforts, both at the State and local levels. He is continuing executive member of the UW Construction Industry Advisory Council, serves as Vice Chair of the Puget Sound Transit Citizen Oversight Panel, and is a 6-year member and past chair of the Edmonds Planning Board. Most recently, he has been appointed to the Mayor’s advisory task force to study alternatives to the at-grade railroad crossings in downtown Edmonds. These writings represent his views as a private citizen.