MARYSVILLE — Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring addressed citizen concerns ranging from public safety and budgets to traffic and neighborhood upkeep at his most recent coffee klatch at the Marysville YMCA Youth Development Center on Wednesday, Nov. 7.
“Our long-term goal of paying down the city’s debt continues to make progress,” Nehring said. “We’re paying off the library, one of the golf loans and the Boys & Girls Club building this year. It’s nice to finally have some of these expenses paid off.”
A trio of Marysville residents inquired what could be done to combat pet waste. Dawn Everett is a frequent walker around town who picks up her own dog’s waste, but feels uncomfortable even taking her dog out when she sees that so many other pet owners have failed to do the same. Walter Eckman has gotten into arguments with his neighbors over the subject, while Sheree Berg doesn’t appreciate seeing the street in front of her business spoiled.
“I’ve seen these,” Everett said, holding up a “Clean Up After Your Dog” sticker she acquired at this year’s “Scrub-A-Mutt” event, “but these were handed out to pet owners who know better. What can we do to get this message on buses and billboards?”
“I’ve mentioned to my neighbors that it’s against the RCW not to pick up their dog waste, but they told me they don’t have to listen to that,” Eckman said.
“I don’t want my customers tracking through this,” said Berg, whose flower beds have been hit by dogs. “I’ll pay to have signs put up.”
Nehring acknowledged that enforcing the anti-littering and waste ordinance requires officers to observe the waste being left behind, which “is not likely,” but city of Marysville Public Information Officer Doug Buell assured attendees of the coffee klatch that he could promote the ordinance further on the city’s website and in its winter activities guide.
Another citizen asked about the possible coming of coal trains to the rail line bisecting Marysville, to which Nehring reiterated his remarks at an Oct. 30 public workshop meeting on the subject.
“A year and a half ago, this was on the fast track with no input set to be received,” Nehring said. “I teamed up with a number of other mayors to press the Governor for a full environmental impact statement, which is about a two-year process. That delay obviously buys us some time, but more importantly, it allows us to comment on the proposal.”
Nehring noted again that Marysville’s 11 at-grade railroad crossings are already the source of significant traffic congestion within the city, and pointed out that the Washington State Department of Transportation has approved the idea of on- and off-ramps that could connect Interstate 5 with State Route 529, so that the Ebey Slough Bridge could serve as a way around the railroad crossing at Fourth Street.
“As it stands, there’s really no other solution for South Marysville,” Nehring said. “The railroad is too close to I-5 and State Avenue. It’d take $100 million to rebuild the downtown to fix those issues.”
With the public comment period lasting only until December, Nehring touted the input of non-elected citizens as more powerful, in many ways, than the testimony that he and his fellow elected officials have already provided.
“We comment on this all the time, but there are plenty of other elected officials who, unlike us, strongly support these coal trains,” Nehring said. “It’s when they hear from you, the people who elect them, that it makes a real impact.”
Marysville resident Scott Allen wondered when some more funds would be set aside for road maintenance and resurfacing, noting that Sunnyside Boulevard had received little attention since 1972. Nehring attributed this belt-tightening to a loss of a state funding source and the 2008 economic downturn impacting the city’s ability to spend responsibly.
“The crash just tanked our reserves,” Nehring said. “We’ve finally got enough funds under our feet to do $350,000 in overlays this year, which is all we could afford while maintaining our 10 percent emergency reserve.”
Nehring explained that streets have been prioritized for overlays or skims based on whether they’re in danger of grinding down to the point that they’d need to be rebuilt. When Allen proposed diverting some of the hotel/motel tax grant monies into streets, Nehring elaborated that such funds must legally go toward programs that attract overnight tourist traffic.
When asked why the Ken Baxter Senior Center became the Ken Baxter Community Center, Nehring summed it up as expanding the center’s services to include the community so that it could continue to serve seniors.
“The center is subsidized entirely by the city, so rather than reducing its hours or closing it completely, we’ve invited in paid classes to help subsidize our senior programs enough that they can remain free of charge,” Nehring said. “That’s not a perfect solution, but we can’t afford a perfect solution. I’d like a new building for the center, because the one we have now is old.”