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Nehring outlines Marysville's progress in State of the City address
MARYSVILLE — Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring's State of the City address on Jan. 27 cited the importance of the city's partnerships with neighboring governments, and even its own citizens, in recognizing its accomplishments to date, and charting a course toward future successes.
"We enter this new year with no illusions that things in the economy will be much improved in 2012," said Nehring, even as he pointed to positive signs in Boeing's renewed commitment to the Pacific Northwest, the USS Nimitz coming to Naval Station Everett, the Armed Forces Reserve Center opening in Marysville, strong holiday retail sales and a slightly lower unemployment rate. "It's really up to us to keep our city moving."
Looking back on the city's achievements in 2011, Nehring expressed pride in its public safety, noting that 2011 saw 36 crimes reported per 1,000 residents, the lowest rate for the city since 2000, and lower than the current statewide average of 47.5 crimes reported per 1,000 residents. At the same time, he acknowledged that residential burglaries increased 19 percent between 2010 and 2011 in both the city and throughout Snohomish County.
"The [Marysville Police] Department is acutely aware of the increase, and personnel are using crime analysis, repeat offender data and street-level intelligence-gathering to attack the problem," Nehring said.
City street crews focused their limited funds on basic maintenance so well that Nehring has received favorable feedback on their work, which he also commended in the wake of the city's first snowstorm of the new year.
"I can't say enough about the professionalism and rapid response that our public works, streets and park maintenance workers, and the amazing job they did around-the-clock to sand and plow key roads around Marysville," Nehring said.
Nehring provided a number of reasons to be optimistic about the city's budget, including the fact that it's already met its goal of replenishing the fund balance to 10 percent of its revenues a year ahead of schedule, the new Management of the Cedarcrest Golf Course reducing the expenses subsidized by the city by half in 2011, and the State Auditor's Office honoring the city in 2011 for five consecutive years of clean audits with no findings.
"Accountability to taxpayers is important," said Nehring, who's presented Innovative Service Awards to city employees for ideas that have saved the city a combined total of $360,000.
Nehring credited city employees with contributing to the welfare of their community off the clock as well, by raising $16,912 through the United Way campaign and collecting $3,583, 5,519 food items and 300 toys for families in need during the winter holidays. Marysville city employees also raised thousands of dollars for last year's Marysville/Tulalip Relay For Life, just as Marysville Police raised thousands of dollars for Special Olympics in Washington state through their annual Torch Run Relay and "Tip a Cop" campaign.
Nehring quantified the value of the volunteerism of the Marysville community as a whole by reporting that volunteer hours on behalf of city programs totaled 1,722 hours in 2011, an increase of 500 hours over 2010 levels.
"These hours are equivalent to $34,440 in added value to the city," Nehring said. "I am proud to lead a city made more vibrant and welcoming because of acts of civic-minded individuals such as these, who share a sense of community. The city's Volunteer of the Month continues to honor nominees who are making a difference in our community."
As the city's permit revenues have exceeded expectations in 2010 and 2011, Nehring announced that the city will offer online permitting for some residential services, in addition to existing interactive website services which include notifications via emails or text messages of road closures, emergency alerts, special events and agenda postings, as well as apps to report graffiti, potholes or streetlights that have gone out.
Looking ahead to the rest of 2012, Nehring cited the construction already underway on the Lakewood Triangle Access/156th Street I-5 overcrossing in north Marysville, which he anticipates will take pressure off the 172nd Street overpass a mile north, once the overdressing opens in September.
The State Route 529 bridge replacement is on schedule to open the new fixed-span bridge on the Ebey waterfront to northbound traffic only by this spring, while southbound drivers will continue to use the old bridge. Once all traffic is routed over to the new bridge in August, workers will begin dismantling the old bridge.
To ease congestion within the city, Nehring explained that the city will build a three-lane extension of 51st Avenue between 84th and 88th streets, as well as a new 40th Street NE corridor to create a new access point at State Routes 9 and 92.
To that end, Nehring plans to increase the 116th Street/I-5 interchange from three to six lanes, as well as to build additional eastbound and westbound lanes along Fourth Street/State Route 528 under I-5.
By building a new I-5 northbound off-ramp onto State Route 529 and new southbound on-ramps from State Route 529 to I-5, Nehring also hopes to help mitigate the impacts of any increased freight train traffic resulting from the proposed Cherry Point Coal Export Facility in Whatcom County.
State Avenue is already in the final phase of a widening project to convert the existing three-lane road from 116th to 136th streets to five lanes.
Nehring reiterated his goal of creating a regional manufacturing and light industrial center for as many as 10,000 family-wage jobs in the Smokey Point area, whose proximity to the Arlington Municipal Airport and its business park "make this entire area an economic development oasis" in his estimation.
Joint resolutions between the cities of Marysville and Arlington, and the Tulalip Tribes, have echoed Nehring's assessment by declaring their mutual commitment to fostering aerospace, manufacturing and industrial growth in the Smokey Point area, which Nehring aims to promote as a potential "supersite" for contractors and suppliers for Boeing and other players in the aerospace industry.
Nehring hopes to attract manufacturing and light industrial businesses to the area by creating a more competitive fee structure, as well as through legislation that would create a property tax exemption for areas that have already been zoned and planned for manufacturing and light industrial use, such as Smokey Point.
To foster an individual identity for Marysville as a community, Nehring has also maintained a long-term focus on creating a more park-like, pedestrian-friendly environment downtown by blending high-rise housing with a mix of new retail and office space.
Recently proposed downtown initiatives increased policing efforts, tougher lewd conduct and panhandling laws, proactive code enforcement measures and improvements to the Qwuloolt Trail along the Ebey waterfront east into the Snohomish River Estuary.
"The fourth component in this package is community participation, and that's where you come in," Nehring said. "Through an interactive meeting and online means, we want you to share your ideas and help us prioritize a menu of downtown improvements that will align with any potential funding."