U-Dub Q and A, continued
I’m thinking about getting a UW Lake Stevens tattoo. Before I get inked, maybe you should tell me who we’re up against?
Everett has two sites on the shortlist the old Kimberly Clark log yard on the Snohomish River, and one near the train station. Marysville has a site adjacent to I-5. All along, Everett has been a front runner, pouring money and resources into the effort since last year but the Everett sites have serious flaws. The log-yard would require a significant (read: costly) clean-up effort and the train station site is only 30 acres. The good news for us is that we can be absolutely sure that our site was chosen on its merits and not because of high-priced lobbyists or political pressure. As I’ve noted in this space all along, we have a legitimate chance to land the campus. I might hold off on the tattoo, just the same.
So where exactly is the Lake Stevens/Snohomish site located, and who picked it?
The site is located inside the Lake Stevens UGA along 20th Street SE near Cavelero Mid High. The site was one of three locations featured in the joint site proposal cosigned by Mayor Vern Little and Snohomish Mayor Randy Hamlin. The UW search team zeroed in on this particular site and set aside the other two locations featured in the proposal. The selected site consists of over 100 contiguous acres of clean, flat and open land.
Thanks for clearing that up. Now tell me who owns the land!
The site is a mix of public and private land. Snohomish County controls 40 acres, about 40 acres are privately held, and the Lake Stevens School District owns another 25 acres. All parties have expressed a willingness to discuss the proposal with the University of Washington and the State, but are not required to participate if they choose not to.
Why is the university proposal good for the community?
Let’s count the ways. First education. Currently, east county students have no local higher education alternatives. Bringing one of the world’s top 25 public universities to our area will open countless doors to place-bound students. Second the site will bring jobs. We’re all tired of having to cross the trestle to go to work and/or school. Imagine the employment opportunities presented by the planning and construction of the campus, followed by the staffing of the university and supplemented by the countless support businesses that follow a top-notch university. If you listen to the candidates running for office in Snohomish and Lake Stevens, they all talk about battling the traffic problem by eliminating the need to commute west for work. This is a once in a lifetime chance to ensure the stability and vitality of our community for generations to come.
It seems like a no-brainer to support this effort. Is anyone against it?
Preliminary polling suggests around 95 percent approval from area residents, and at a recent debate, every candidate running for office in Lake Stevens voiced their support for the campus proposal.
However, if something is worth doing, then it’s a certainty that somebody will try to tell you why you can’t do it. Obviously groups supporting the other sites will do whatever they can to knock our community in order to promote their own cause. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if competitors leaked information to out-of-town anti-development groups in an attempt to undermine our efforts. Such a ploy won’t fly in Lake Stevens - we’d see right through it. Nobody does green, sustainable development like the University of Washington. For example, the Bothell campus is over 70 percent parkland and has won international design awards for the incorporation of wetlands and the preservation of the natural setting throughout the property, and we all know what a gem Montlake is.
This is our opportunity to control the development along 20th Street. In five years, the area will be developed one way or another. Luckily for us, we can choose a beautiful university campus instead of the cracker-box County-approved housing that would no doubt be the alternative.
What can I do to help?
Come to the town meeting tonight at the Everett Events Center. The meeting gets underway at 7:00 p.m., so get there early, grab a seat, and prepare to stand up and voice your support for your community. Public speaking in a setting like that can be intimidating, but I’m here to help. Log on to the Off the Record blog at lakestevensjournal.com and review my UW-Lake Stevens/Snohomish talking points for the town meeting. While you’re there, take a minute to sign the online petition. Also, check out the information I’ve posted on letters to the editor, and use one of mine as a template or write your own and send it to the Herald and the Journal.
I’d like to keep going, but there’s only so much room in the paper. We’ve come along way in a short amount of time. Less than three months ago, the State called for site proposals, and received 83 applicants. Today, it’s down to the Final Four and we stand on the precipice of an event that will forever alter our community for the better.
Recently, I’ve heard a lot of talk about long range planning. Seven year plans, 20 year plans heck, even 100 year plans. Bringing a world-class University of Washington campus to the greater Lake Stevens area is a forever-year plan: once it’s here, it’ll keep giving back forever. Take the time to join the effort if we work together as a community now, the future generations will look back on 2007 as the year everything changed for the better. They’ll also remember it as the year that Grandpa got that crazy UW-Lake Stevens tattoo on his forehead. Think Purple and Gold!
Kevin Hulten maintains the Off the Record blog at www.lakestevensjournal.com. Email your comments to Kevin.firstname.lastname@example.org.