Council reverses decision to charge for parking at park
MUKILTEO - The city reversed its decision last month to charge for parking at Lighthouse Park and to install parking meters downtown.
Parking will remain free and on a first come, first serve basis.
“I want to thank our residents for really stepping up to us and making their feelings known,” Councilman Steve Schmalz said.
Residents spoke out against the proposal to start charging for parking because they already pay taxes to support the park. The park attracts a lot of people from outside Mukilteo who don’t contribute to the city unless they shop there.
City officials have said they’ve created such a popular park they don’t know where to put people.
The move puts Mukilteo back to square one on solving its short-term parking dilemma. There are 337 spaces at Lighthouse Park but more than 1,000 cars try to find a spot there during the summer months.
The city is trying to get parking space at the former tank farm property when it gets transferred from the U.S. Air Force to the Port of Everett. One spot on the tank farm property could create 85 spaces, and a second spot could create a similar number of spaces.
The transfer is scheduled to happen next spring. The cost to paint parking lines on the two spots is estimated to cost less than $35,000, city administrator Joe Hannan said.
To address the area’s long-term parking needs, Sound Transit is building a parking garage next to its Sounder station.
The added parking spots will keep commuters from parking at the park, Mayor Joe Marine said.
“We saw the firestorm coming and it was a hard vote for anybody to start charging” at the park, Marine said.
Instead of charging, the city could use tax money to monitor parking at the park, Hannan said. There is currently a four-hour parking limit at the park.
One idea the city discussed was putting in a ticketing gate at the park’s entrance, but that could cause a back up of cars up Mukilteo Speedway, Hannan said.
Council members suggested ideas on how to charge nonresidents while keeping the park free for residents, but nothing firm was established at the meeting.
The city originally was going to charge $1.50 per hour to park from March to September. Residents could have bought a $35 annual pass to get four hours free every day, and nonresidents could have paid $70 for the same pass. The City Council in September approved a request for proposals from parking companies to implement the plan.
A proposal by Councilman Kevin Stoltz to continue looking for a parking company without automatically charging for parking failed 4-3.
“It seems like we’re going all or nothing” on whether or not to charge, Stoltz said.
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