MARYSVILLE – Mayor Jon Nehring admitted he is not a fan of roundabouts at a recent Coffee Klatch.
“We need to take a closer look at where we put them,” he said.
Nehring was responding to a resident about the traffic circles on 84th Street. The complaint was that they are too small and hard to negotiate.
Public Works director Kevin Nielsen explained traffic circles are built when there is a problem with speeding.
“They are a calming device to get people to slow down,” he said, while roundabouts are built to improve traffic flow. One benefit of both is they slow traffic so if there is an accident it’s not as serious as it would have been. Another option the city may look at is more speed tables. Nehring said the city already uses radar signs to try to control speed, and if it gets really bad, “We put officers where we can.”
Nielsen added: “We take speeding very seriously. When we hand out tickets it slows things down for a while.”
Other traffic topics included:
•The state has given the city money to design a crossing over the railroad tracks at Grove Street. The city will go after construction money next. Advantages include it’s the middle of town, it will help emergency vehicles and little property would need to be acquired. •Property would need to be acquired along the 88th Street corridor as the city wants to expand it east. “It’s our toughest challenge,” Nehring said. The city has decided on three rather than five lanes, and it would need a right-turn drop lane from State Avenue to 88th.
•The city supports widening 172nd Street and a flyover bridge over the tracks at 156th.
•Construction of the ramps at I-5 and Highway 529 will take place in 2020-21.
Another hot topic was affordable housing. While Nehring said that is not up to government because it’s a free market there are some things that can be done to encourage developers, such as incentives like fee cuts. Rental assistance is another possibility.
“People are flocking here because it’s cheaper here” than areas to the south, he said of housing. He knows many people can’t afford to buy homes, and he worries about protecting renters. He wonders, for example, where people go when mobile home parks are bought out.
“We need more options,” he said.
One residents brought up more high-density housing, but Nehring said it’s not easy in a bedroom community like Marysville to get apartments built.
Smokey Point is an area with such housing where people can live and walk to work, he added.
Downtown Marysville is an area where tax breaks are being offered to build multi-family housing. The city wants to remake the nearby waterfront park with mixed uses from the private sector. The city is getting design money in 2020. It’s hoping for things like quaint shops, eateries, an amphitheater and kayaking. Phase 3 of the Ebey Trail improvements is also slated for next year. The area’s old boathouses have been cleared out, and the rusting metal warehouse could be next.
Nearby, sealed bids came in Nov. 5 for the new jail-police station and Civic Campus. The city waited until now for bids to see if prices would drop from the hot market. When construction starts, the senior center will be moved to the Opera House or some other temporary location.
Nehring said he’s glad the city has a jail because the Snohomish County Jail in Everett often lacks space. Regarding the drug epidemic, the mayor said the NITE team is after drug dealers, boarding up their houses. The Stay Out of Drug Areas downtown and at Smokey Point have reduced sales there. Felons can be arrested just for being there; they don’t have to be caught selling. School Resource Officers are keeping the next generation off drugs, Nehring said. And the embedded social worker program is fixing the long-term problem by getting addicts into treatment, housing and jobs. The program has helped 99 people, with 53 graduating, he said.
Even though the city doesn’t oversee schools, Nehring said they are working together to improve their image.
It’s important for the city for its schools to be successful, he said. The schools keep losing students, which means a drop in state money, which affects the city, he said.
One great move the schools are doing is improving education in the trades industries.
“They’ll be making $40 an hour before the college kids even figure out their debt,” Nehring joked.
One thing Nehring wants to keep as the town grows is the quality of life. With historic Third Street and the Opera House, “It feels like a tight-knit community.”
Parks, trails and recreation are important, and the Cascade Industrial Center is bringing good-paying jobs so people can work here. Nehring said he’s proud of what he’s done as mayor.
“When I was elected people said please bring more shops here; we spend too much time on I-5. Now there are lots of options.”