People have a lot to say about Kimberly-Clark mill site at forum
EVERETT - People have a lot of different ideas about what to do with the Kimberly-Clark mill site, and a few themes are emerging.
People want public access to the waterfront, industry to stay on the site and for Kimberly-Clark’s buildings to stay up or come down depending on who you ask.
Cargo shipping workers want the Port of Everett to buy the property and build a larger port.
Kimberly-Clark is closing the mill Sunday, April 15 and has a demolition permit in place with the city. The company has a real estate broker working to sell the 66-acre site.
The City Council in February approved a six-month development moratorium on the site so it could develop a long-range redevelopment plan for the approximately 96-acre site being called the Central Waterfront Area, which runs along West Marine View Drive.
The city has hired consultants to help them develop a plan.
The Tuesday, April 3 forum attracted more than 100 people.
Representatives from an oil refining company worked the crowd for anyone who would listen to their idea for putting a biofuels facility on the site.
Energex Production Company wants to build a large-scale biofuels processing site similar to plants in Europe. One of the company’s largest ventures is an oil refining plant in Dayton, Tenn.
Company representatives say they’ve approached the real estate broker for the Kimberly-Clark site to strike a deal. The company is the only one to publicly announce its interest in the site.
Mayor Ray Stephanson has said he would like to see the area remain industrial.
The city’s administrative officer Debra Bryant said Stephanson “is not taking a position at all on what goes onto the Kimberly-Clark site” when asked about Energex. The Tribune was unable to reach the mayor for comment.
Lynne Bennett, who lives a few blocks from the mill, said she probably doesn’t want condominiums or parks on the mill site. She’d rather see a site that brings jobs to Everett.
Her twin grandsons, ages 3, were saddened when the mill’s smokestacks stopped running as often.
“It’s sad; (the workers’) grandparents and parents worked for the mills, and now they just can’t go to another mill. There aren’t any,” Bennett said.
There was debate among people at the forum on whether the mill’s buildings should stay or be demolished.
Historic Everett vice president Dave Ramstad said the buildings should be preserved. The mill’s history dates back to 1933 as the Soundview Pulp Mill.
Other residents disagree. Some said the buildings may have asbestos in them.
Brad Fellows lives nearby and wants the building taken down because of how they look.
“I’m excited to see the plant go down,” Fellows said. He’s tired of the view being blocked and the mill’s emissions.
“If you leave the truck parked there for a week, you get a film on it,” Fellows said.
Demolish the buildings, Steven Jenkins said. “Kimberly-Clark has kind of been a cancer to the city,” he said. “That waterfront area is beautiful. You can see the mountains.”
Nobody cares about the “old-ass” buildings at the mill, Jenkins said. “Move on, demo it.”
Other people have other ideas.
A woman who wants to see jobs at the site also said there’s room for a tourist destination.
Putting in tourist attractions upsets Amy Reed, a 10-year Kimberly-Clark employee. Her family comes from a line of millworkers and her husband Joe Reed is finishing up 31 years at the mill.
“All you people who want a carousel and want it torn down, Everett’s dead,” Amy Reed said.
Keith Lander, general manager of the Best Western Cascadia Inn downtown, wants jobs put back at the mill site. He’s losing business because of the mill’s closure.
A deep-water port that could take on larger ships is best for the site, Lander said.
“It can bring a hell of a lot of jobs for shipping,” Lander said. “Let’s use this how it’s supposed to be used — for marine use.”
Longshoremen from the local union agree. They want Everett to become a bigger port like Tacoma or Vancouver, B.C.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union 32 president Nick Hoekendorf said.
Councilman Paul Roberts, who did not want to make a public statement on what he wants on the site, told the Tribune it might be difficult to have a bigger port that could compete with Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver and Long Beach, Calif. Also, the widening of the Panama Canal later this decade could have far-reaching implications for West Coast shipping, Roberts said.
The state Department of Ecology has said the site needs to be cleaned up after years of industrial use.
“I can see this becoming a train wreck because nobody will want it until it’s cleaned up,” one man at the forum said.
Other people questioned why the city has a development moratorium that affects Kimberly-Clark’s private land.
The city shouldn’t be sticking its nose in where it doesn’t belong, a woman said.
The city has the ability to regulate the land, assistant city attorney David Hall said. Everett TV filmed the forum. Check local listings on the city’s website to see the video.
By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published April 11, 2012