Councilwoman Stonecipher disagrees with waterfront plan
EVERETT - A City Council member is objecting to plans to keep the former Kimberly-Clark Mill site on the waterfront zoned industrial.
Councilwoman Brenda Stonecipher would rather see the area become a high-wage business park. She said allowing heavy manufacturing there is a step backwards.
“Why would we go back, I do not share that vision,” Stonecipher said. “This is what we’ve tried to rise above and get away from.”
The council opened its discussion last week on new zoning rules for the Central Waterfront Planning Area, a 93-acre area that includes the former mill. What’s before the council is a master plan that keeps the site zoned for industrial manufacturing while restricting many undesirable industries from the site.
The city’s planning commission recommended this alternative in October over three others, one of which was to zone the land for a large series of business parks. Stonecipher supports that alternative. She is the only council member so far to directly weigh in on the proposed plan.
The waterfront planning process went through months of public comment and the city funded two consultant studies.
Stonecipher tied her comments to a city-funded economic analysis that states a business park would create higher-wage jobs than heavy manufacturing. Manufacturing might bring in more workers but at lower wages, the analysis reports.
The Port of Everett, for example, is interested in the site to expand its shipping terminal. Other companies may be attracted to the site’s deep port and railway access for moving goods.
A site use analysis funded by the city suggests aerospace manufacturers, though, would avoid the site because they could get cheaper land closer to The Boeing Co.’s facility. A business park would be interested mainly for waterfront prestige, but planners suggest some security restrictions requested by the mill site’s neighbor, Naval Station Everett, could dissuade a large corporation from coming.
Stonecipher’s comments go against a majority of public input asking to keep the area industrial to attract family-wage manufacturing jobs. Public access to the waterfront (there is practically none in the alternative before council) was another top concern.
Stonecipher also is worried more heavy manufacturing will re-contaminate the area. The land and nearby waterway is contaminated according to state Department of Ecology standards. Much of the contamination is connected to decades of pulp and paper manufacturing activity.
“We need to think about our children and children’s children and I don’t know if they will be happy if they have to clean it up again,” she said, adding later that “before you know it, we won’t have the ability to make something beautiful.”
Kimberly-Clark’s real estate broker Dave Speers declined to comment on Stonecipher’s comments, only saying he has many different types of uses interested in the site.
Kimberly-Clark supports the proposed alternative keeping the site zoned industrial, K-C spokesman Bob Brand said, declining further comment.
Both men were in the council audience last week.
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