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Open houses for proposed Smokey Point transit center

11-acre site could hold 375 cars

ARLINGTON Community Transit has plans for two new facilities; an 11-acre transit center is planned for the Smokey Point area at 169th Street and a two-acre park and ride lot for downtown Marysville.
There are 20 CT park and ride lots in Snohomish County, and three in Marysville are already at capacity. A pair of lots near I-5 and SR 528 downtown are filled on a daily basis; they are augmented by a smaller one at the 116th Street on-ramp a few miles north. The latter will likely be closed when the interchange is improved and CT wants to keep pace as traffic grows in the north County area. The agency has scheduled a pair of open houses to gauge community interest and hear from locals.
We know that the demand for bus riders up there is growing, explained Martin Munguia, public information officer for Community Transit.
The Smokey Point site could hold 375 parking stalls and would likely be included in a mixed-use development that would let commuters park in the lot during the day and other business customers use it at night. The site is at the northeast corner of 169th and Smokey Point Boulevard.
Something like a movie theater would be a great synergistic use, Munguia said, adding that no property has been bought or contracts signed. Were just kind of throwing the idea out there.
CT would need only half of the plot and would likely lease the remainder to a commercial developer who would improve the rest with a retail complex.
The idea fell flat on its face when first presented to the Arlington City Council a month ago, largely because Smokey Point businesses feared their new freeway overpass at 172nd Street would be clogged with more buses and traffic, as if its wide open right now. Becky Foster has a business nearby just over the Marysville city limits and said she and other members of the Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce werent pleased with the plans for a new transit center nearby. The chamber sent a letter to Community Transit saying the location was not in the best interests of the Lakewood and Arlington school districts, the city of Arlington and nearby businesses. Many local business owners feared that bus riders will fill the new transit center lot with their cars and then the overflow will clog the nearby business lots, Foster said.
They felt that it was not a good thing for business, for the community, Foster recalled. We were very surprised to see this brought up at the Arlington City Council without it being discussed with anyone from the Smokey Point area.
Munguia said the current property owner has not had any other users express an interest in the land and that the presentations to both the Marysville and Arlington councils was the first part of reaching out to the community. The two open houses will give folks a chance to get more information and express themselves. A big sticking point in Smokey Point is the difference in size, scale and function between a park and ride lot and the larger transit center. The former is a place for commuters to stash their ride during the day while at work; transit centers are more active as they are astride junctions of several different routes and attract more foot traffic throughout the day. Park and rides are busy in the mornings and evenings, typically, while transit centers are connection hubs and are usually within walking distance to local retail.
We kind of felt that a lot of the behind the scenes work was done on the location, in Smokey Point without talking to nearby property owners, Foster explained, summing up the feelings of many chamber members. They werent excited about having a transit station.
Foster acknowledged the need for more transit options and stressed that locals raised $9.5 million toward the new freeway overpass that opened
last fall.
Now we are seeing the success of that is bringing more traffic, Foster said, referring to a new Costco and Target across the freeway from her interior store. I know the intent is to get the cars off of the road and the people onto the buses.
She thinks Marysville and Arlington should try to get more family-wage jobs in town so people dont leave the area and can work, shop and live in the same place. About 85 percent of workers head south on the interstate everyday to jobs in south Snohomish County and King County.
The open houses will be held from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. on two days; in Arlington on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the Stillaguamish Senior Center, 18308 Smokey Point Boulevard, and in Marysville on Nov. 16 in the library of Marysville Junior High School, 1605 Seventh Street.
For more information call Community Transit at 425-353- or 1-800-562-1375 or see their Web site at www.communitytransit.org.

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