Arlington Mayor, officials touch on city priorities during chamber luncheon

Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson and Bill Blake, the city
Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson and Bill Blake, the city's natural resource manager, show Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce members a map of the 150-acre Graafstra property that was recently purchased by the city.
— image credit: Adam Rudnick

SMOKEY POINT — Mayor Margaret Larson gave the Arlington and Smokey Point business communities a peek at some of the city's biggest priorities — some of which directly impact area businesses — during a recent chamber luncheon.

During an hour-long discussion led by the Arlington mayor at the Medallion Hotel on March 9, Larson talked briefly about economic development within Arlington, transportation issues currently being discussed by city officials and the recently purchased Graafstra property.

"I'm really proud to be here today telling you about what we're doing at the city," Larson told the group, which included a number of city department heads and staff. "I didn't sleep at all last night."

The Arlington City Council earlier this month approved a list of 13 priorities that it will be focusing on in 2010, and Larson used that list as guide for her talking points.

Larson started out by talking about the city's biggest priority — remodeling Arlington Fire Station 46 — before talking about the city working with the Arlington School District and Cascade Valley Hospital to continue the interlocal contract for an emergency management position in Arlington.

"None of us thinks we're going to have a big earthquake, but I think it's important that the city provide leadership with this," Larson said.

Larson then touched on development and transportation issues facing the Smokey Point area, including possibly adding a system of trails, improving roadways and easing congestion.

Part of that priority includes adding gateway signage within the city to give drivers a better idea of when they've entered Arlington.

"There will be a plan," Larson said. "You want to come into a town and now have it be a hodgepodge. I think you'll like what you see. There will be all kinds of big issues that the Council has to look at."

The mayor also that the city will soon be seeking public input on what the community wants from the 150-acre Graafstra property that was recently purchased by the city to create a recreational area. That land could be home to a city-run camp ground, a system of trails, a public swimming area and other recreational areas.

"It's absolutely beautiful," Larson said. "We lose somebody in our river it seems every other year. The swimming area would give kids a chance to swim. It's absolutely the neatest thing we could ever purchase."

Meeting attendees also had a chance to ask Larson and other city officials questions about particular projects or priorities.

Those questions included how the city plans on paying for its gateway signage to whether the city has looked at building a crisis or outreach center to go a long with its purchase of the former dairy farm property.

Arlington Arts Council members said that they are currently soliciting design ideas and raising funds from the community for the project, and Fire Chief Jim Rankin spoke about some of the city and community shelters available for residents.

City Administrator Allen Johnson said that he's heard a lot of concern about how the city can afford the Graafstra property during the current economic situation hitting all public entities.

He said the city is paying only interest for the first 10 years on the property, followed by a low interest rate for the remaining 20 years.

"That way we won't have to float a bond," Johnson said.

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