Letter to the editor: We can’t afford the Landmark 99 property

Editor:

We can’t afford the Landmark 99 property, and the City of Edmonds has failed to give a valid reason for purchasing it.

The city is currently in a fiscal emergency, which will result in belt tightening and increased taxes and fees for all the citizens. This will make it difficult for us to accomplish our many needs, and this leaves no room for wants. A vote to continue this project on Dec. 5 will immediately cost us $100,000, and there will be expenses for consultants ($250,000 has been mentioned) and increased staff time. If the city decides to buy the property, it will need to issue bonds, and because of our fiscal status, those will be expensive.

Also, the Landmark 99 property is in an area that has never been defined as to land use, housing and transportation. Plus, the Environmental Impact Statement needs updating. It seems we have the cart in front of the horse.

The Highway 99 area has needs: sidewalks, lighting, crosswalks and adequate policing. Also, they don’t have a meeting place like the Waterfront Center. The management of the Edmonds Senior Center is taking over the Lake Ballinger Center so there will be more activity for everyone in that area. 

The options for this project presented by Susan McLaughlin and others have been slick but limited in details.

A glaring example is access points to the property. Access from 99 is poor. It would be easy to access from 242nd, but the neighbors would hate it. Details are important.

Bob Chaffee
Edmonds

  1. So far, the project has cost the city apparently $137,000 in fees plus staff time. The sad part is that money could have gone into such things as lighting, pedestrian improvements, or even policing. Each which is desperately needed in the neighborhood.

  2. We can’t afford our roads our sewer our stormwater our water infrastructure for that matter. But yet government wants to invest in grandiose social infrastructure and let the rest rot having to raise taxes to pay for something we should have been saving for. Same problem many pensions faced when the guarentee became something less. Same problem many city’s face. You tell me if there is something wrong with record revenues from the community record federal spending a good reserve position or at least they say. And now the hippo wants to add another grandiose project. Raise taxes for wants over our needs. Mark my words if something isn’t done locally we are going to find ourselves as a government over extended and failing, but you know what that means higher taxes and a dismissing quality of life. Facts. Nobody is against progress, but does it all have to be today?

  3. It doesn’t all have to be today. Infact I would image that Interest rates will go down as they always have and 2050 is a long time away. We don’t have to do everything now, or even plan everything now. Maybe if we wait on most things that are suggested as far as building we will find many new ideas will surface. Maybe new materials that will last long term will surface. I agree with you Jim. This hurry up or doom on everything is getting very tiresome and very costly. I am hoping we do increase small businesses and give them incentive to move into other areas of our city here in Edmonds. That helps everyone. It helps bring in sales tax and more interesting and diverse businesses. They will do well in our other city burbs. Restaurants. that serve alcohol too. Some entertainment venues. We are waiting. Remember in areas with citizens that don’t go to the bowl so much due to parking walkability other areas want a place to go eat and hang out too. Walking distance to buy merchandise and we want to do it in Edmonds. Encourage new businesses to open (we need a year round plant nursery (sales tax? I know these businesses will be used by many in our city We need lots of things up here.

    1. Well said, Deborah! The City of Edmonds has not purchased the property only exploring ideas of how to develop it if they do move forward. I would like a say in how the property will be developed, this is an opportunity. The city is attempting to provide an opportunity the community and businesses along 99 and Lake Ballinger to feel more inclusive by bringing services outside the “bowl”. This will also increase our sales tax revenue . Of course there is opposition in the neighborhood, but now is the time to make sure all those concerns are addressed. How do young people/families afford to purchase their first house. They risk taking out a mortgage, like most investments there are risks. Can we stop the negativity and let the process move forward. Edmond will change, I think it is important that the citizens have a say in how their city grows. If a developer purchases the property it will be high rise condos and the citizens will have no input.

      1. Thank you Debbie. I do want more growth in the uphill of Edmonds. I do know we cannot afford to do much at all for at least 2024. I still do not support The Landmark Project. I want an area that is more centrally located to the majority of Edmonds Citizens. I just didn’t want there to be any misunderstanding about this project and my opinion. I have been very clear about this project and I also do like the Bowl of Edmonds I just want when we can to do more with small businesses in the uphill area. Thank you though Debbie.

  4. To update my LTE I must add that Susan M. last night. estimated the consultant fees for the project in 2024 will be $375,000, not the $250,000 I had mention. More reasons not to move forward.

    1. Bob- I believe Susan M stated that she had identified $375K in tax and grant funding for the project. And that neither of the Directors answered the Council person’s question about how much consultant spending would be needed in 2024. That means the Council has to create their own new decision package for the 2024 budget in the next 3 weeks for this spending, if they vote on Dec 5th to proceed.
      I personally think this is a poor use of the $300K in tax revenues set aside for affordable housing. That money should be used to actually build affordable housing – not pay more consultants to guide the City thorough the Landmark 99 project.

      1. Direct quote from McLaughlin: “I think the $375,000 for 2024 would absolutely cover the consulting costs, particularly with a development partner on board.” — Teresa

      2. That $300,000 came from some other people who got taxed for it in the process of putting a roof over their own heads. The 75,000 comes from the County according to State Representative/County Councilman Peterson (how that title is allowed to happen is beyond my comprehension). None of this stuff is free and all grants and gifts are some form of redistribution of income and wealth no matter their source. The first thing we all need to do is stop lying to ourselves. Until we do that; the lies from the Mayors and their Staffs will just be muted and part of the whole mess.

  5. We have a lame duck mayor and some council members making decisions that will impact us all and then they will be gone. I’m against the project for many already stated reasons, but let’s at least postpone the decision until we have a new mayor and council in place.

  6. It just feels to me from these comments that people just want more for downtown and not for the rest of Edmonds. I live near the King/Snohomish county line at the edge of Edmonds. We don’t really need sidewalks here, but I’d like the money spent equally between downtown and the rest of Edmonds. I don’t eat out down there but occasionally. At least Mike Nelson CARED about the rest of Edmonds. I feel like Mike Rosen was elected by people who live downtown and so that part of Edmonds will get the bulk of his attention. I’m not buying his “wanting to meet the people of Edmonds where they’re at” line from today’s Herald. He is looking at the Olympics, walking in downtown Edmonds (where the rest of us rarely go) and chatting with the downtown folks. They are the ones that’ll be getting what they want from Rosen.

  7. Tracy, I live near downtown at the upper part of the Bowl. I do not want the “Missing Link.” I strongly opposed the Connector. I did not want the Civic Field Park do over, except getting rid of the rotten bleachers which needed to happen. I’m all for people in your area getting in on some of the “good stuff” but I’m not in favor of the city having to turn to expensive bonding and becoming a land developer to do it. Our city has been badly managed for years. I suspect Mike Nelson CARED a lot more about getting re-elected than he did about making your area a better place to live based on his actions before and after the election. I’m sorry you feel the need to vilify people like me.

  8. In fairness, I was against the Civic Field project and now love it. My problem now has more to do with timing than my usual distaste for government’s lust for power and their own growth of. Has anyone bothered to check the current commercial real estate market? The area and country as a whole are in no position to be making major property purchases while smart money sits on the sidelines. We have no idea at this point where rock bottom is. If this property had the value government wishes it did, there would be a bidding war.

    1. I feel this is correct that if there was development interest in this property it likely wouldn’t be offered to government for such a special deal. My guess is value for a developer would require a much lower price or a city that was willing to bear the cost and the risk associated with development. We are like the person that just has to have that new special make and model and are willing to pay any price to get it so we add to our resume of cars we owned for just a few years. Not a good investment strategy. Don’t you all recognize the depreciation that will take place the moment we drive it off the lot?

  9. Tracy,

    You said “It just feels to me from these comments that people just want more for downtown and not for the rest of Edmonds.” I raised my millennial children in the bowl, a couple blocks from Clinton Wright. Ditto everything he said.

    Work began on Civic Field in August 2020, ended in spring of 2023 and cost 22 million. Surrounding residents put up with heavy equipment spewing pollution into the air, disrupting traffic, parking, and access. I’m deeply concerned about the future our children and grandchildren face from climate change. Watching the lifting and draining of peat, mixing it with hauled in soil, the installation of drainage, the whole ugly process of destroying a former peat bog, https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/peatlands-store-twice-much-carbon-all-worlds-forests was painful. Irreparable damage was done to a valuable environmental asset. We could have left the existing peat bog intact AND created a beautiful park, but Edmonds’ administrations’ “think big” attitude eliminated that possibility.

    Landmark 99 can’t be accessed via Highway 99. If the property is ultimately purchased, surrounding neighborhoods will be subjected to years of heavy equipment hauling debris and trees out, hauling construction materials in. Years of massive trucks spewing pollution into the air that they breathe. Once completed, these residents would be subjected to ALL traffic getting into and out of this projected development.

    I don’t have any friends or neighbors who want “more for downtown” or who would wish the experience I’ve described on neighbors of the Landmark 99 property.

    1. Joan, you make good points about the multi year disruption that a large construction project has on residents and small business in a neighborhood. It’s hard to believe that the City spent $22M on land they already owned to rebuild a park. I’m glad that they received grants for part of that cost, but I believe they also issued long term bonds for that project. Construction projects are expensive, and no one is debating that fact. When the VIA consultant presented options for developing the site at neighborhood meetings, they also described the access issues. The neighbors who live on 242nd reinforced a the meeting that they like the fact that the road right-of-way was closed several years ago next to the Burlington Coat Factory, and they want it to stay closed. The State of Wash just paid for the relaning project on Hwy 99 and now it’s even more awkward for car travelers to get to this site. The access issues have solutions, but not all stakeholders will get what they want when the solutions are decided upon. There are also grading issues. There are 12 foot and 15 foot elevation changes, and that means a LOT of dirt will be moved. When you take the construction perspective on the Landmark 99 project, new challenges are readily apparent.

  10. Oh how I do long for a city staff grant writer…. So much money on the table to help offset some of these concerns. Sigh.

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