I am disappointed in the City Council’s majority decision to recommend to the State Department of Ecology a 125-foot setback for the Edmonds Marsh. The current setback is 25 feet. The most recent review and analysis by the Department of Ecology puts the recommended set back at 65 feet. I agree that the marsh habitat needs to be protected.
On the adjoining Port of Edmonds property is the Harbor Square Business Park. The council’s recommendation, if adopted by the Department of Ecology, would most likely prohibit any new development at Harbor Square. The existing concrete box buildings will remain in place long into the future. The buildings are grandfathered in by the existing regulations. This may be considered a win for the city council and some of the residents of Edmonds, but it is really a loss for the city, the waterfront, and the economic vitality of the area.
With setbacks at 125 feet it is unlikely that any redevelopment will take place at Harbor Square. Maybe that is the Council majority’s goal.
My disappointment is not with the decision; the council has the right to make that decision, based on public, staff, and expert input. What the council majority has accomplished with this decision is a potential rift between two public agencies…the port and the city. The port might have been willing to work with the city and agreed to a compromise position with some give and take on both sides. Unfortunately, this did not happen.
This is the type of legislative action that has torn this country apart with one side saying, “my way or the highway.” This sets up winners and losers …. Is this really the way you want to run business here in the City of Edmonds. The city is going to need the cooperation of the port sometime in the future. How likely will the port be willing to work with the city given this type of attitude and decision making.
This recommendation by the city council will:
– ensure the existing buildings will remain in place long into the future
– keep in place the existing 25-foot setback for the existing buildings
– make redevelopment unlikely to take place
– make it unlikely that new public amenities will be built for public enjoyment
– make future enhancement and improvement to the marsh more difficult if the Port elects not to participate.
The above could have been avoided with the parties working together and coming to an agreement on a long range plan, in whatever form that might take.
The city council majority missed an important opportunity here to set in motion a plan for the future. What you have accomplished is plan for no plan for the future.
I do not know if 25 feet, 50 feet, 75 feet or 100 feet is the correct buffer for the marsh. I do know that we all play in the same sandbox. Let’s work together and work out our differences.
— By Chris W. Keuss
Chris Keuss is former executive director of the Port of Edmonds, and also served as director of facilities and property management for CRISTA and manager of parking services for the University of Washington. He has lived in Edmonds for more than 40 years.