Council discusses Japanese Gulch ballot measure
MUKILTEO - Efforts to preserve the last piece of Japanese Gulch got a $1 million boost last month, but a decision from the City Council is needed before anything can happen.
All seven council members want to buy the last 98 acres, but they are divided on whether to ask voters to raise their property taxes or issue a non-voter approved councilmanic bond to pay for the purchase.
Some council members say the city can’t take out a councilmanic bond because the city is still paying off the bond it took out for the new Rosehill Community Center.
The council was scheduled to discuss a November ballot measure Monday, Aug. 5 after press time. The deadline to get a measure on the fall ballot is Aug. 6.
The city in the meantime made recent gains toward acquiring the gulch.
Mukilteo recently secured $1 million from the state Legislature toward buying the property.
The city also is in the running for a $2.5 million grant from a Snohomish County land grant commission.
Mukilteo’s kitty of $2.8 million is a far cry from the unofficial $6 million estimated price tag for the property, but it reduces how big a bond the city might need to take out.
Either type of bond would backfill the rest of the purchase. A ballot measure for a $3.2 million bond last year just missed the required 60 percent supermajority. Supporters believe this year’s effort would be a slam dunk for funding the gulch land purchase.
The message that the bankruptcy court holding the property wants to sell the land is becoming clearer, though.
A new “For Sale” sign was put up on the property, and neighbors report the site is being clear-cut for development.
During a discussion last month, some residents said the “For Sale” sign is a bluff move. The strengthened real estate market, though, creates perceived pressure on Mukilteo to buy the acreage before a developer snatches it up.
A new political action committee on gulch issues, meanwhile, sprung up last month. The Save the Gulch PAC plans to be active if the council decides on a ballot measure, leader Kelley Roe said last week.
The committee already is planning to make mayoral and council endorsements in both the Mukilteo and Everett races after its Aug. 11 meeting, Roe said.
The gulch land is located in Everett.
Japanese Gulch Group director Paige DeChambeau did not return phone calls or an e-mail from the Tribune asking about both the grant’s impact and the for sale sign.
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