Where future residents should live marks first input forum
EVERETT - The city is projected to grow at a pace of around 2,000 to 2,500 more residents each year, and it’s high time to plan where they will live and what Everett will look like.
Current residents were surveyed their thoughts a while ago, and now the city is hosting public meetings for more input.
The people who live here say concentrate new growth into downtown, off of Evergreen Way, and into homebuilder Polygon’s expected Riverfront Development in north Lowell.
But there’s more to locating people than zoning on a map. Attracting people downtown, for example, faces challenges to reshape itself again into a go-to hive of vibrant living and shopping.
The next questions for future forums this spring will be how to shape Everett’s roads and other amenities.
About 45 people, mainly residents who actively monitor city issues, gave their opinions last week at the first city public input forum at Everett Station.
People want Everett to grow smartly, with an effective transit system, sustainability and community enhancements.
Fostering small neighborhood businesses also was commonly brought up.
“Some neighborhoods, they’re not attractive to me, but (they would be) if they had more things like a neighborhood pub” or other places where neighbors bump into each other, said landowner and former resident Ryan Countryman.
Casino Road, for example, has a Fred Meyer but lacks many other neighborhood services, said Sister Mohammad, a local figure who attends many community events.
The two-mile stretch of Casino Road has a large low-income population but lacks standard grocery stores, pet stores or other shopping spaces amidst the thousands of apartment units.
People at the forum emphasized that they want the city’s economy to not rely on Boeing’s fortunes.
Why not attract technology businesses, resident John Schutz said.
“We think of the Pacific Northwest, Microsoft — we’re the Silicon Valley of the north,” Schutz said. “You know what my neighbor said they should do with the (former Kimberly-Clark paper mill)? Give it to Amazon.com.”
A four-year college, like the branch campus Washington State University is opening in north Everett, is desperately needed, people said.
A four-year college would retain high-tech jobs and urban professionals.
Countryman, who grew up in Silver Lake, said most of his friends moved away from Everett after college.
One woman who declined to be named suggested downtown could benefit by making it into almost a college hipster’s paradise with bookstores, coffee shops and a fuller nightlife.
Recent developments have started the ball rolling. Groups such as the Everett Music Initiative are trying to cater to Generation Y Millennials and make downtown more vibrant through concerts; new art venues fostering an art scene also sprung up in the past decade, seemingly anchored by the Schack Art Center.
People noted the coming year-round farmers market at Pacific and Grand avenues would boost downtown as well.
Participants dotted maps with stickers at the forum
The six groups also were asked to collectively mark on maps where they recommend business growth in the city, and most people said the Port of Everett, the former Kimberly-Clark mill site, downtown and the Everett Station area. A few groups dotted Evergreen Way, and another group marked off Smith Island.
The city is doing these public input exercises to flesh out a Comprehensive Plan that outlays how to shape the city over the next two decades. Up to 123,000 people are expected to live here in 2025 under one of the projections.
The next public input forum is yet to be scheduled.
The Everett City Council is set to approve the Comprehensive Plan in mid-2015..
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