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Community celebrates reopening of Olympic Avenue Oct. 6

ARLINGTON Construction on Olympic Avenue in downtown Arlington is done, with last minute tweaking in process this week to prepare for the grand-opening celebration set for Saturday, Oct. 6.
Its beautiful beyond my expectations, said Mayor Margaret Larson. Its pure excitement in Arlington, she added.
The $4.4 million project includes a new street surface, curbs, sidewalks, trees and light posts, as well as the new infrastructure which inspired the project.
We had to do the infrastructure and we decided we might as well do it up right, said City Councilman Graham Smith. An earlier proposal to rebuild the street hit the skids when it required a self-taxing Local Improvement District.
The project area covered six blocks of North Olympic Avenue, from Maple Street to Division Street with partial segments of the intersecting side streets.
The project was originally planned for 2006 but was postponed due to a large number of underground fuel tanks that were identified during the planning process.
At the end of 2005, the city suddenly announced that the project would be postponed, in order to spend 2006 removing tanks.
Rivers Edge Construction Services of Kent removed seven underground storage tanks in the summer of 2006 to make way for the new utility lines and road surface. That first phase was completed four weeks ahead of schedule and under budget.
Then, in March 2007, Strider Construction of Bellingham was awarded the $4.1 million roadway reconstruction project. The project began in late April this year and concluded this week, just in time for the big celebration.
The city worked closely with the merchants in downtown Arlington during the two-year project, with Terry Marsh, as the street project manager, and the citys capital projects manager Paul Ellis providing regular updates at the weekly merchant meetings and by hand-delivered flyers.
I see this as a catalyst for the future, Ellis said. Lets just wait until next year to see what changes this project inspires.
Recognizing that the new street in itself would not be enough to revitalize the historical downtown, the city recruited design assistance from the University of Washingtons Northwest Center for Livable Communities and financial assistance from the Everett-based non-profit Community Capital Development for merchants interested in upgrading their buildings. Assistance offered by the NCLC included design guidelines and color scheme ideas for storefronts. CCD provided businesses with technical support including workshops, one-on-one business counseling, and low-interest financial assistance for improvements to buildings on Olympic Avenue.
Many merchants and property owners have taken advantage of these services, said the citys economic development consultant, Vic Ericson.
This is the most successful street renovation project I have ever witnessed, Ericson said.
The new street will be honored with a big party Oct. 6.
Its going to be a lot of fun, said Councilman Dick Butner, who has attended the planning meetings.
There is, of course, a parade, starting at 2 p.m. after the ribbon cutting on North Olympic Avenue at Division Street, with all merchants and friends invited to walk down the street to Legion Park where the dedication of the gazebo starts at 2:30 p.m. Entertainment is planned in Legion Park, at Mirkwoods Shire Cafe, and at the Variety House as well as on the street and sidewalks. The first ever Bite of Arlington features many Arlington eateries selling samples off their menus, and a Poker Walk with significant cash prizes offering a good excuse to stop by and visit at least 12 different merchants.
The new street and the
Oct. 6 celebration are part of a new beginning for Arlington, said Ericson, whose job description includes more than 70 tasks to be completed for Arlingtons economic development. A revitalized downtown is just one of those projects defined by an economic development committee established by Mayor Larson early in her term.
The new street has become a symbol for a thriving new future for all of Arlington, Larson said.
This is definitely the friendliest town Ive ever worked in, said Dan Sherman, who has worked for Strider Construction since 1994.
The success of this project is all about the collaboration among the city, the contractors, the merchants and the public, Ellis said.

Poker Walk
As part of the grand re-opening, Angel of the Winds Casino is sponsoring a Poker Walk Oct. 6, with three cash prizes, $250, $200 and $150.
Twelve downtown merchants will hold official decks where participants can pick up to 10 cards for two five-card poker hands.
Angel of the Winds will supply dealers to help players judge their hands and record the winners. The judging will take place from 3 5 p.m. at the Angel of the Winds poker tent on Olympic Avenue.
Participating merchants are Mirkwoods Shire Cafe, Arlington Pharmacy, Rexs Rentals, Action Sports, Olympic Escrow, Denton Massage, Julies Styling, Favorite Pastime, Dwayne Lanes Chevrolet, Unique Interiors, 360 Home Realty and Cenex Co-op.

Bite of Arlington
Arlingtons first ever Bite of Arlington is scheduled from
1 4 p.m., Oct. 6, to provide nutrients for the day full of fun activities. The Bite of Arlington logo will be displayed at participating establishments, and mini maps will be handed out by volunteers on the street. Prices for Bite specials range from 50 cents to $5.
Nineteen of Arlingtons food providers, on Olympic, West and Division streets will offer mini-burgers and sliders, large pizza slices, oysters on the half shell, crab cakes, brats, pasta, salads and soups.
Participants are Bistro San Martin, Blue Bird Cafe, Broosters, Crosswalk Tavern, The Fountain, Hong Kong Restaurant, Irresistible Espresso, La Hacienda, Little Italy Italian Market & Trattoria, Local Scoop, Mirkwoods Shire Cafe, Ouis Thai Food, Panaderia El Angel, Pioneer Coffee Company, Pizza Factory, Playa Bonita, Steak House, Triple Shot Espresso and Whitehorse Tavern.

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