If you were to redesign the commercial area in Edmonds’ Westgate neighborhood, what would it look like? Mixed-use buildings with housing on top of storefronts? An open plaza with trees and comfortable benches? Affordable housing for young families?
Those ideas and more were generated by a group of nearly 30 citizens who attended a public “Listening Session” on “Revisioning Westgate” Tuesday night. The meeting was sponsored by the City of Edmonds in conjunction with the Economic Development Commission and Planning Board, and coordinated by a team of faculty and graduate students from the University of Washington’s College of Built Environment.
Another session, focusing on the Five Corners neigborhood, will be tonight, Wednesday, in the Plaza Room above the Edmonds Library, 650 Main St., from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The ultimate goal is to create plans for redeveloping the two neighborhood commercial areas, and engaging the community is a key part of that effort. More than 300 people so far have completed an online survey on the City of Edmonds’ website, sharing their ideas on possible redevelopment for both neighborhoods, and anyone who lives near, shops in or travels through either Westgate or Five Corners is encouraged to take the survey, which will be available through mid-February.
During the Westgate meeting in City Hall’s Brackett Room Tuesday night, citizens saw examples of trends in community development in other regions — including Mill Creek and Seattle — and also were able to react to what they saw using an individual clicker survey tool. That data, along with the online survey information, will be compiled for both neighborhoods and more information will be gathered during a “design charrette” workshop on Feb. 25.
In addition, Jeff Aken of the Cascade Land Conservancy shared photos of how other regional neighborhoods — including Mill Creek and Seattle — have developed their commercial spaces to accommodate a variety of community uses, and those attending were asked to vote — using their clickers — on what they liked best.
Aken also talked about the “3 C’s” — Complete, Compact and Connected — that should be considered when looking at redeveloping the Westgate space. “Complete” refers to the mix of uses that should be available — from open space to housing to retail development. “Compact” refers to redeveloped area’s efficiency, including land use, parking and transit. “Connected” is how the commercial space is connected to the surrounding residential neighborhood and to parks and open spaces. Aken noted that 20 percent of Edmonds’ population is under the age of 18 and 20 percent is over age 65, so it’s important to come up with ideas that serve a diverse range of needs.
After the presentation, UW students were available at various stations in the Brackett Room to guide attendees as they shared their specific ideas for redeveloping the neighborhood. At one station, for example, citizens were asked to use colored markers to draw on a neighborhood map how they currently access Westgate’s commercial center — via car, transit, bicycle or walking — as well as their thoughts on how to improve that access.
Meeting-goers also had an opportunity to post star-shaped sticky notes on a “What’s Your Wish” poster. Among the ideas included on those notes:
– “Better sidewalks. They look ugly”
– “Restricted bike lane on 9th”
– “Senior housing”
– “Housing units for younger citizens”
-“Ancient strip mall goes away”
– “Mixed use affordable housing and shops”
– “All-season activities for families with children”
– “Increased density”
Information gathered during both of this week’s meetings, as well as the input from the Feb. 25 design workshop, will be available on the city website as it becomes available, said City Planning Manager Rob Chave. The project will also include presentations to city officials, research on form-based codes, production of final conceptual designs, and preparation of a report with recommendations for implementation.
Both meetings gave people some good insight into what could be done and examples of how they would look. The presentation was more informational and not a question and answer session that would have dragged the meeting on. The second half was hands on and a chance to give input. There were good conversations among people at the different stations. The online survey is still going on at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N2RG6KK
All these ideas and changes won’t happen over night. This is 1 to 20 year look into the future.
To add on to Paul’s information, this was not the last opportunity for public input, by any stretch of the imagination! The UW/CascadeLand team is trying to gather information in as many different ways as they can before they try to compile a set of desired characteristics for each area. And eventually, some proposed comprehensive ideas. Keep your eye on the Planning Board agenda around April for public presentations and hearings at that level.
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