Group agrees to continue its push for parking at new Civic Park, starting with April 2 council meeting

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    Scot Simpson is organizing the petition drive to reopen the Civic Park Master Plan to include parking.

    About 40 people gathered at the Edmonds Senior Center library early Friday evening to talk about an issue that seems to be never ending in Edmonds: parking.

    Friday night’s discussion drew mostly Edmonds Bowl residents and downtown business owners worried that there is no parking included in design plans to renovate Civic Park field, located at 6th Avenue North. Not surprisingly, the conversation evolved into a larger discussion about downtown parking in general.

    Former Edmonds City Councilmember Dick Van Hollebeke, who attended the meeting and also lives in the Bowl, noted that parking was identified as a problem during his time on the city council two decades ago, and will probably always be an issue.

    Friday night’s discussion was led by long-time Edmonds resident Scot Simpson, who is spearheading a petition drive asking the Edmonds City Council to revisit the city’s Civic Park Master Plan. The city council is going to hear an update on Civic Park Field planning during its Tuesday, April 2 business meeting, and parking will be part of the discussion, according to the meeting agenda.

    Simpson’s petition drive is also being supported by downtown developer Mike McMurray, who outlined in his March 26 My Edmonds News commentary his ideas for providing 58 parking spaces at Civic Park.

    McMurray said his involvement began after he met with residents who were concerned about his proposed Main Street Commons development, which includes a mix of commercial development and public open space at 6th and Main. The residents told Murray they were worried about parking: Under McMurray’s design, the current 28 parking spaces located outside the former Next to Nature pet store would be reduced to an estimated eight spaces. McMurray said he was asked to provide additional parking at the location, and looked into the idea of underground parking, but once he realized the expense — at a minimum of $35,000 per stall — he decided it wasn’t feasible.

    McMurray explained Friday night that his conversation with neighbors revealed numerous concerns about downtown parking, which is overflowing into nearby neighborhoods for a variety of reasons. These include a growing number of downtown bars and restaurants attracting customers, which means that employees who work in downtown businesses are parking in neighborhoods. In addition, many ferry commuters leave their cars on neighborhood streets for the weekend. As a result, the residents themselves often can’t find a place to park near their own homes.

    Those experiences got McMurray to thinking about the lack of parking for another planned project that is likely to be a major draw for people arriving by car — the new Civic Field Park.

    “What 8-acre park in the middle of the downtown, in a neighborhood, does not have a parking lot?” McMurray asked. “It’s like totally insane.”

    The City of Edmonds purchased the 8-acre site from the Edmonds School District for $1.9 million in 2016, after using it with the district’s permission for more than 40 years. The city then initiated a community planning process to develop a long-term plan for the property. The Edmonds City Council approved that final plan in March 2017.

    Park construction is anticipated to begin in 2020.

    As part of the Civic Park planning process, the city decided — based on community feedback — to not include parking as part of the redeveloped park site. There are also restrictions to keep most of the property as open space, which are attached to grants the city has received so far to help pay for the estimated $10 million to $12 million park project.

    Not including parking at Civic Park is “totally insane,” McMurray said.

    However, McMurray and others argue that there are ways to add parking, and that it would be unfair to both neighbors and businesses near the park — as well as visitors from outside the Bowl who want to enjoy the park’s amenities — to not include it.

    “People that are paying for the park…the 80 percent who don’t live in the Bowl, should be able to have an opportunity to get in their car with their family, drive down to the park and park,” McMurray said.

    Councilmembers Mike Nelson and Dave Teitzel were present at Friday night’s meeting, and had a chance to offer their perspectives. Both councilmembers noted that adding parking to the current Civic Field Park design would require that a majority of the council vote to reopen the park’s Master Plan — a move that would involve increased costs to the city and also could pose a range of other challenges.

    For example, the councilmembers pointed out that if the Master Plan is reopened, the public involvement process will have to start anew and that means many other ideas could be expressed that could change the already-agreed-upon park design by adding or subtracting other elements.

    “If we open it up, it needs to be a fair process,” Nelson said. “Anybody who has an issue with anything related to the park should have an opportunity to express it.”

    Teitzel said that since he lives next to the Civic Park field, he will be recusing himself from any vote on whether to reopen the master plan. But he also expressed that he has an “overarching concern” about citizens’ push to add parking.

    “Very recently it seems to me that whenever we have big issues like this come up, the public comes in late in the process and says ‘Hey, wait, I didn’t know about this,'” Teitzel said. “It’s happened recently with the (Highway 104) sign issue and the Waterfront Connector, and now this. Somehow, the city is not connecting with the public well enough early enough to get this input into the process.”

    Nelson said he had a different view, adding he believes the Civic Field process “was very public and we had a lot of public input. Parking was discussed at the public level and at no point did people really say they wanted to have it,” he added.

    Some residents in the room disagreed, stating they did express a preference for parking and it wasn’t included, while others said they assumed all along the parking would be part of the design and were surprised to learn it wasn’t.

    The final approved master plan for Civic Park.

    Regardless, most of those attending Friday night’s meeting reiterated their belief that providing at least some additional parking at Civic Field would help with parking problems that have been exacerbated by new business and residential developments both downtown and elsewhere in the city, including large multifamily residential projects now planned for Westgate and Highway 99.

    Tracy Felix, who owns ArtSPOT at 4th and Main, said that since she opened her business in 2012, she has seen an increasing number of customers frustrated with the inability to find parking. As a result, they end up leaving Edmonds and shopping elsewhere. “I just wanted to put a very heartfelt plea to the city council — if you can get 58 spots, get the 58 spots,” she said.

    During Friday’s meeting, former Councilmember Van Hollebeke said that while he liked McMurray’s Main Street Commons plan, the project will be part of the problem in creating traffic without adding parking. In response, McMurray replied that he would be willing to sell the current parking lot to the City of Edmonds and not include it in his development, as long as the city agreed to keep the parking free of charge.

    McMurray also pointed out his goal in designing his development was “to bring more variation to the downtown and contribute to its valuation,” rather than having it become yet another multifamily residential project. He said that’s why the current design includes — in addition to restaurant and commercial spaces — an Art Alley for permanent and temporary exhibits as well as public areas to encourage community gatherings.

    McMurray has suggested that additional Civic Field parking could be a boon to the community beyond the park, by providing additional parking for the Edmonds Museum Farmer’s Market and could possibly also be used for other purposes, like a temporary winter ice skating rink.

    In the council meeting agenda for Tuesday night, the staff summary acknowledged “that parking was part of the discussion in the master planning process, at stakeholder meetings, at open houses, during the public hearings both at the Planning Board and City Council.  The consensus of the community at the time was that the park property should be retained as public open space and not allocated to parking, or solving the downtown parking issue.”

    Teitzel said it was clear that those attending Friday night’s meeting had two separate issues: “Should there be parking at Civic Field, and how should we handle parking downtown in general?

    The councilmember explained that the city has launched a parking study aimed at addressing ways to increase parking around the new park, including the possibility of angle parking along 6th and 7th avenues as well as opening up the Edmonds Center for the Arts parking lot — just a few blocks away — when activities are not going on there.

    “I don’t think anybody would argue that we don’t have a parking problem in Edmonds and it’s going to get worse,” a meeting attendee said Friday night. “But adding 58 spots at Civic Field isn’t going to solve the problem. I don’t think we should confuse solving the parking problem in Edmonds with the need to impact the park.”

    At the end of the meeting, organizer Scot Simpson took a vote of those attending to determine whether the group should continue gathering signatures on a petition asking the council to include parking at Civic Field. The vote was 20 yes and 4 no, and the decision was made to proceed.

    The group also agreed to deliver petitions and speak about the issue during two upcoming council meetings: April 2 and April 16.

    Those interested in receiving a petition can email [email protected]

    And you can see the complete agenda for Tuesday night’s city council meeting here. The agenda also includes a public hearing on the Shoreline Master Program Periodic Review, adoption of an ordinance related to aesthetics of small cell wireless facilities, and a financial update on the Edmonds Waterfront Center.

    –Story and photos by Teresa Wippel

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    20 Replies to “Group agrees to continue its push for parking at new Civic Park, starting with April 2 council meeting”

    1. Great reporting Teresa. A complex problem that needs to be addressed. Seems Edmonds has an addition to the city name. We are now known as “Edmondsparking”.

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    2. This issue isn’t about having an Edmonds Kind of Day, warm and fuzzy feelings about an old building (it was just a grocery store among other things), and “cum bye ya” for all as it’s being portrayed by a very vocal few who want a re-do on the issue that will cost the city (taxpayers) thousands of dollars in the process. These same folks were sitting on their hands when the matter was legitimately up for public discussion. Their latest figure quoted is that they have 66 signatures on a petition to be presented to Council Tuesday night. Let’s say they really get on it, and show up with 200 signatures. The last census had Edmonds population at 40210. Even with 200 signee’s that’s .005% of Edmond’s total population. Unless they show up with at least 10 0r 15 thousand signatures, the City Council needs to politely listen to these folks and then vote unanimously to ignore this self serving initiative. As Mr. Van Hollebeke pointed out, parking in Edmonds has always been and most likely always will be a problem. Mr. McMurray, for whatever reasons, has chosen to put a business venture we probably don’t need, or in many cases want, on most of an already paved over parking lot. That’s his problem, not ours. We don’t need another gathering spot or another outdoor market or a place to play outdoor music. We already have plenty of that. When people open businesses in downtown Edmonds they know, or should know at least, that they are going to have to deal with a shortage of available parking. That’s just part of the deal in downtown Edmonds.

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      1. Clinton, I admire much of what you say, and often agree with your points. But could you please break your posts into paragraphs? This would make them so much easier to read.

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    3. It is frustrating to think that after a multi-year process of open public meetings and plan reviews regarding Civic Park that Mr. Simpson has decided to get involved. Yes, downtown parking is a problem and efforts should be made to develop a comprehensive solution. Slicing off a few parking spaces at Civic Park is a piecemeal, fragmented, and costly approach that will not solve the issue. The money and time to repeat the Civic Park Design process is not a prudent use of funds to address and solve downtown parking. To put the issue in it’s proper perspective, a separate process is needed.

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    4. Elsewhere Mr. Simpson now says he thinks parking at Civic Field might have been overlooked due to a clerical error in the original presentation. Man, high points for being creative, if nothing else! None of this passes the smell test. I think I’m sniffing out a plan for, or threat to, sue the city over this. Curious to know, are you perhaps acting as Mr. MC Murray’s attorney, Mr. Simpson?

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    5. Kicking the parking can down the road doesn’t solve the problem. Just because we’ve always had a parking problem doesn’t mean we have to live with it until……what?. Odds of getting a parking garage are minimal at best.

      More folks are impacted by a lack of parking than those that would use some of the proposed theme spaces at the new Civic Park.

      The consensus of our public may be changing in favor of adding parking spaces at the City Park because a broader range of interests are coming forward. The city needs to consider the highest and best use of the old civic field to include additioanal parking that would serve the city greater good. This is an opportunity to help fix a problem.

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    6. It would be more fiscally responsible and farsighted to reopen the process now while we have the opportunity and budget versus potentially more costly consulting, property, design, permiting and construction in the future. Add to that the public and business input process again.

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      1. My favorite President Obama quote “Remember folks we are all on the same Team, this is just a scrimmage”
        I think what’s getting lost in this discussion is that everyone agrees we love the future plans for the park, we just are requesting a tweak to its functionality and how it will impact the Downtown sensitive Business District, and impact the local neighborhoods, And make sure are residents outside the bowl are getting a fair shake? The council can very easily request that Carrie Hite the Parks director reach out to “Walker Macy” the Parks lead designer and authorize them to rework the placement of amenities on a simple schematic and see how much of the fun stuff is impacted just a draft nothing concrete? 5% of land Is not a major concession. Nobody is asking for a rework and go through open house process again, we did that it was successful. The fact that we are in the midst of a unprecedented housing crisis and population growth was not foreseen or predicted by anyone in 2016. Nobody is blaming anyone for missing the open houses! If things where back to normal, I would not be concerned one bit about lack of designated parking on this project, but they are never going to be back to normal, we have a wave of thousands of new people coming this way need to be smart. Even if the simple pervious paver flex lot was adopted into the plan and it cost $1 Million, it would be the deal of the century for the city, considering Sound Transit CEO has allocated $20 million to Edmond’s for a parking garage down my train station for I believe 200 space, and he said they can’t do it, not enough money.
        The City has No funds for parking they have other more pressing needs, understandable. The Video of first civic meeting is very telling if you want to spend an hour of your life you can’t get back, “Walker Macy” lead designers of the park one of the main themes or overall concept for the park was “Flexible and Adaptable” spaces, in fact they even envision Civic Park someday being a “Regional Draw” its an amazing park its going to change our entire downtown, let’s make some tweaks that make sense for our entire community. I agree with Mr. Wright leave the Petanque courts my goodness, the property is still a run down Track & Field , people acting like I am instructing Carrie Hite to hop in a Bulldozer and tear up City park. The Boys & Girls Club is adapting to this unprecedented growth making smart changes now, check out the new facility at Mukileto and the updated Curriculum, it’s like something you would see at a private school, it’s simply inspiring. B&G are anticipating to help thousand of more kids and families due to the new found population boom. B&G new model for building new clubs require larger spaces, 18,000 square footprint is what I have been informed. Is remodeling the old Red Barn as others have eluded too really the best thing for our community and families and future? Things have changed let’s not tie are self down completely to 3 year old plans, we can respect the old plan,and the people who worked hard on it, but we can improve it too. Regarding my development it’s not perfect has negatives, like all developments, but I hope the positives far out weigh the negatives. I am embracing the BD1 spirit of the code as its intended design is to spur more commercial development that contribute to the downtown experience. I have allowed people to park on a parking lot for free for around 2 years, that creates a sense that they are losing something that was there’s before, I will remind the community it was a strictly enforced private parking lot for past 15 years before my ownership. My plans afford the creation of 4 new Public parking spaces on 6th as well in addition to the 8 off the allley. People criticizing me and my project is all good 100% Ok with it, in fact I created a website to invite people to give me input, good and bad, it was the best decision for the project by far. Please check out the new Mukilteo B&G really amazing.

        https://imaginemukilteo.com/

        Sent from my iPhone

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    7. Once again. There was an open, honest and inclusive process on this that has been concluded. If the City Concil gives in on this, they might as well forget ever being at the end of any future controversies in this town.

      This is the same national model of governance that isn’t working too well. You snooze, you lose should appliy here.

      By your reasoning, the biggest problem in town is parking so we should use as much of the park as we can for parking instead of using parking that already exists.

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    8. If you reopen the process again. you will add great cost to the project now. As one of the Council members pointed out, you will have to go back to planning square one and offer to get everyone’s input once again. Then you repay the designers to re do the plans and you risk the cost of labor and materials going up even more in the interim. Then add in the cost of the parking lot itself and you are talking additional thousands.

      Redoing this now would be physically irresponsible in fact. This is nothing but a special interest group trying to have it’s way in my opinion.

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    9. I agree with Clint’s first paragraph.

      Even so, it still will be worth the cost and effort now, in the long run, for Edmonds.

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    10. A fragmented approach to solving our parking problem is not wise nor a good use of tax payer time and money. A few parking spaces in the Civic Park will soon be labeled as inadequate, advocates for such a fix will be chastised, and off we go again to find a few parking spaces, and so on. A comprehensive study is needed to identify downtown parking solutions, determine costs, and develop short and long term strategies to get it done, and done right.

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    11. I would love to hear if there has been any movement on fixing this issue. It sounds like everyone recognizes the lack of parking in the proposed plan will be a problem, and there is a difference on whether to fix the problem now before construction happens, or do a more difficult fix later.

      Hopefully those in charge will do the right thing and address this issue now with a common sense ammendment. I fear that the pride issue of admitting that a mistake was made will prevent any change from happening, or an unnecessarily long study or full review will prevent a quick common sense fix.

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    12. The whole point of not revisiting this is that you can’t just move stuff around a bit. The council would have to go back to square one and let everyone have their say. This time with the parking lobby speaking out, instead of remaining mute like the first round. Much of the grant money for the park was offered with the understanding there would be no available park land used for parking. They can and probably will take back their funds if the Edmonds commercial real estate lobby gets it’s way on a redo with park parking. The city council recognized all these redo problems and voted 6 to 0 to stay the course for sound practical and economic reasons. If you aren’t going to let the city council govern, you might as well not have one. There is something to be said for losing an issue gracefully and moving on.

      I understand Mr. McMurray wants to make some profit off of his private propery. No problem, profit is good. Since the city needs more parking, more than it needs another place to buy pizza and have public gatherings, why can’t Mr. McMurray use his property as a market driven solution to the parking problem. The old building could be knocked down and a layer of elevated parking could be built over the existing spaces and those created by the building tear down. This should cost much less than excavated parking. I’m sure visitors would be happy to pay as much as 4.00/hr. for parking on weekends and busy week days. With 120 spaces my rough calculation came up with about 25,000/wk income. Not glamorous business, but a lucrative one I suspect.

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    13. This is looking like an us vs them issue. The most important concept is what’s best for all of Edmonds years from now.

      Interesting how a single voice at a gathering can have such impact over so many. A designer from Walker/Macy, who is not involed as much now, pushed so that parking not be included. That was his point as a designer, parks are cooler than parking lots and look good for the record. But there needs to be balance in the larger view.

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    14. Common sense, if nothing else, tells you it would be smarter to put parking where it already exists than in a special place like a park. You will all be relieved that I’m done with this silly discussion. If I can’t even hook you with greed, there’s no hope. Have fun arguing forever about this.

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    15. The requested parking study funding was cut in half. So does that mean the city gets half of a solution vs a comprehensive one that should include more interests?

      If the civic field was 3/4 of the size it has to work with for the new park, I think folks wouild been able come up with a design to include the same elements as now, just a reduced proportion.

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    16. Parking in DT Edmonds is more than a few stalls at Civic Field or on any given corner. The city is conducing a comprehensive parking study designed to look at all of the demands on parking for DT along with the available supply. We have more than 800 residential permits, more than 700 employee permits and Edmonds residents, ferry commuters, and visitors all competing for our valuable spaces. The study will be completed this year and should give us much more information to build a more comprehensive plan to balance the needs of all the demands. Let’s wait for the data and then create data driven solutions to the parking issues. There will be ample opportunity for public input during the study period to let all of us offer concerns and solutions.

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    17. It will not be all hat comprehensive because $70,000 was requested but only $35.000 was approved.
      Therefore, some factors will not be considered, again.

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