Professor Prakash’s letter with respect to the Waterfront Connector, has received a great deal of attention. Most of his points have been covered by others so I will limit my comments to a couple of items I believe are misunderstood.
First, this is not Mayor Earling’s pet project. We should all remember the train blocking both Main and Dayton several years ago. Remember folks climbing through an empty boxcar? Remember the pregnant woman needing help, who was evacuated through that boxcar, and the outcry after, that something had to be done to provide emergency access to the waterfront. In forming a committee to develop a solution, Mayor Earling and the council were responding to the citizens of Edmonds.
Second, the Mayor did not exert undue influence on the task force. Aside from the first meeting where members were introduced, the mayor never attended a meeting. Councilmember Nelson and I, as co-chairs, were not tasked with anything other than chair the meeting and keep things moving. The staff was there to answer questions and conduct liaison with stakeholders such as BNSF and the Department of Transportation. The consultants provided technical information, kept minutes, analyzed reams of data, and produced technical drawings. It was the council that voted to move forward.
Third, every suggestion proposed by the public was evaluated. Some were dismissed as too expensive, and others as inadequate for the task. Those remaining were scrubbed thoroughly and rated on a number of criteria ranging from cost to environmental impact. And yes, views were considered.
The alternative chosen was not chosen casually. The west side of the tracks is a busy, crowded, concentrated urban area. I must confess I was surprised at how crowded it is. The emergency services required are not only to save the occasional heart attack victim. They also include police and fire response. There are restaurants, condos, businesses, parks, and we are about to build a Community Center there. And don’t forget the 900-boat marina. There have been several marina fires in the last few years in Puget Sound, at least one with fatalities. One of those fires was in our own marina. The waterfront is one of the most densely populated areas of Edmonds.
Whether we need the connector or not, is up to the public and the city council –some of whom have changed their minds. Basically,it is whether we believe the waterfront needs adequate emergency service. But, however you feel it is not about corrupt, uncaring, egotistical politicians. We, in Edmonds, have been blessed with honest conscientious, intelligent city officials. We voted them into office. I may disagree with some or all of them some or all of the time, that is the nature of civil discourse. But I respect them for their service, the time they devote to their positions, and the integrity they display.