Nehring discusses graffiti, jobs, quality of life with Marysville citizens at coffee klatch

MARYSVILLE — Attendance at the city of Marysville's latest coffee klatch was a bit more sparse than at the previous meeting, but Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring saw it as an opportunity for more in-depth dialogues with those who did attend.

Marysville residents Marv Johnson, Dawn Everett and Margaret Hopkins met with Nehring in the Marysville City Council Chambers on March 22 to raise their concerns about graffiti, green spaces in the city, urban development and the affordability of recreation programs for seniors.

Everett expressed an interest in seeing more greenery around Marysville outside of its parks, and suggested that this could help prevent graffiti in certain areas by planting shrubs against the sides of buildings, covering up the otherwise exposed walls.

"People who like nature tend to be a different class of people," Everett said.

Nehring agreed that graffiti is "very unwelcome" in Marysville due to its unsightliness and its indications of gang activity, and commended Marysville City Council member Jeff Vaughan's work with the city's Graffiti Task Force.

"The 24-hour cleanup ordinance puts the onus on the property owner, but the city doesn't have the time or the budget to clean up private property that gets tagged," Nehring said. "It's unfortunate, but innocent people pay when others commit crime. The taggers are less likely to target areas that they know will be cleaned up quickly, though."

Nehring is in talks with other city officials to launch what could be as many as three officially designated graffiti cleanup days a year, for which the city would provide the paint and other materials. He noted that Marysville citizens have frequently approached city officials asking how they can help combat graffiti, but added that the technicalities of the law can make enforcement of anti-graffiti statutes difficult, especially since the city can't dictate that taggers must clean up the graffiti that they create.

Hopkins complimented Nehring on the plans for bringing jobs to North Marysville that he's outlined in recent issues of The Marysville Globe, to which Nehring responded by sharing the city's plans to try and persuade Boeing to set up a "super-site" in that area.

"Our goal is for Marysville to be a place where people can live, work and spend their money," Nehring said. "This super-site would allow Boeing to build its components in one spot, rather than all over the globe. That area is master-planned and zoned for manufacturing and light industrial, it has a PUD substation right on site and we're working on the arterials to accommodate it. Boeing wouldn't be starting at ground zero there."

"The parts that are made locally fit Boeing's planes," Johnson said. "The parts that are imported don't fit. That's why Boeing is behind on its orders."

At the same time, Nehring assured the trio of citizens at the coffee klatch that maintaining Marysville's small-town quality of life is also a priority. To that end, he praised local businesses and community groups such as Rotary and Kiwanis for helping support the city's free-attendance recreation programs, including its concerts and movies in Jennings Park. On that note, Johnson pointed out that the increased fees for programs at the Ken Baxter Community Center have resulted in reduced participation.

"We used to have 17 carvers show up at each meeting there, but now it's only eight," Johnson said. "Nobody talks about their trips anymore because no one's going."

Johnson acknowledged Nehring's explanation that the rising costs of insurance and handicapped accessibility limit how much the city can lower those fees. Johnson also cited the fact that the Stillaguamish Senior Center in Arlington receives some amount of state funding, whereas the Ken Baxter Community Center does not.

"Maryke and Jane at Ken Baxter give 110 percent," Johnson said of the Community Center's staff. "I met my wife there, playing canasta."

When Hopkins asked if the Ken Baxter Community Center could apply for state or federal funding, Nehring said, "We can, but that money is flowing in the other direction right now."

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