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Preserving historical ambiance important for Third Street businesses
MARYSVILLE "What you see here is the last remnants of any part of Marysville you can still call historical," said Ken Cage, president of the Marysville Historical Society.
Cage made his comment regarding the stretch of Third Street just east of State Avenue.
The Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce attracted about 50 people to a July 17 Business After Hours tour of the businesses along Third. The event took place as city leaders prepare to take a look at Marysville's downtown and what it might become in the future.
Considering Cage's dedicated involvement in preserving Marysville's past, his comments probably aren't surprising. But many of the business owners along Third share much of the sentiment expressed by Cage.
"I think we want to keep its casual, hometown feel, something that is walkable," said Janna Mitchell, one of the co-owners of Marysville Floral. "There is a uniqueness here you can't find anywhere else."
Mitchell's partner Nicole Walker noted there has been a floral shop in the location of their store since 1946. She claimed customer service is a hallmark not only at her shop, but also at every business on the street.
"We're pretty good at knowing our customers," Walker said. "They're not just a credit card."
Echoing Walker's comments, the owners of Carr's Hardware quickly mentioned an emphasis on customer service. The same family has operated Carr's for 84 years.
"We have unique things you can't find at the big box stores," said Gail Lebbing, who was on duty at the shop for the chamber event along with mom Darlene Scott.
While Scott also talked about preserving the small town feel of the area, she would like to see more businesses take root on Third and surrounding streets. Scott added that over the years Third has lost two clothing stores, a furniture store and a stationary store, among others.
"They just added to the mix," Scott said.
"I just think it's quite quaint," said Marysville resident Diane Gardner as she wondered around Finders Keepers, a bright, well-kept shop featuring everything from antique furniture to collectible toys.
Gardner added she and her husband shop on Third about once or twice a month.
"All the people are very friendly," she said.
Finders Keepers owner Judy Gooze said one of the strengths of Third is that customers can pull up into the side street parking and quickly run a few errands. Like others she wants to keep the small town feel of the street, but also hopes for some controlled and well-planned new development. Also like others, Gooze admitted she has never been a big fan of the large shopping center at Third and State. She described the center as having the feel of "anywhere U.S.A."
"It has no relationship to what was a small farming community," Gooze said.
"The downtown is the heart of the community," said chamber of commerce president Caldie Rogers.
Echoing some comments of the local shop owners, Rogers talked about a need for some mixed use development including further retail, but also some residential zoning. Rogers also wants to see better development of the city's nearby waterfront along Ebey Slough.
In November, City Council authorized with consultants Makers Inc., of Seattle a $275,000 study of the downtown, an area defined at the time as bordered by Ebey Slough to the south and Eighth Street to the north. I-5 and Alder Street make up the approximate east and west boundaries. The study was projected to take about a year. City Chief Administrative Officer Mary Swenson said recently she knows of no specific timeline for completion of the study, but said that it should arrive soon.
Among city officials, Community Development Director Gloria Hirashima apparently has been working the closest with Makers. Hirashima has been on vacation and was unavailable for comment. Back in November, Hirashima said the study would look at various issues, ranging from parking to infrastructure. She promised the city would allow plenty of opportunities for public input.
"I know the downtown area is one of the major focuses of the City Council at this point," Swenson said. She added a belief that both Council members and the administration want a downtown plan in place to both guide and hopefully attract developers. Swenson believes a detailed and fully approved plan would allow potential investors to see what the city's vision for the area is and enable them to know that vision isn't going to suddenly change.