Mville tops UW branch selection
August 28, 2008 · Updated 9:15 AM
MARYSVILLE If location is everything in the real estate business, this city is feeling pretty good about its chances to land the first four-year college campus built in the state in more than a decade.
State planners have pared an initial list of 73 sites for a new University of Washington branch campus down to a first cut of nine. Of those, six are in the Marysville area, one is just outside the city boundary in Smokey Point, and another two are in Everett.
Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall said he likes his odds. Based on the states criteria to serve the growing Snohomish County population with a site that would minimize commute times and allow expansion for future growth. Kendall said he knew it would come down to his town sooner rather than later. If any thing, Kendall said he was surprised that so many other proposals made the cut, since the private property owners had not contacted city hall for help or input. Those sites include acreage on 136th Street NE near the U.S. Navy Support Complex, the MacAngus Ranches site on the Tulalip Indian Reservation south of 136th, and two plots of land on Smokey Point Boulevard in the 15600 block.
The indications were that it needed to be in Marysville, Kendall said.
The city has two official proposals, one in combination with developer Lighthouse Projects of Lake Forest Park, the other submitted by the city itself. Both of those proposals include land straddling the Burlington Northern Sante Fe railroad tracks at 156th Street NE, just south of Gissberg Twin Lakes Park. The city does not own any of the properties but is relying on property owners to cooperate, at the very least.
Lighthouse partner Ken Lyons is a UW alum who takes pride in the chance to host a north Puget Sound campus. His company has a total of 300 acres available on the west side of the railroad tracks, and the city has assembled about 75 acres on the east side. The latter has about 30 acres of wetlands, reducing the buildable footprint.
We feel really good about the location of our property. We like our chances, Lyons said, adding that there were some good candidates in the initial proposals that did not pass muster with the trio of committees that will make a recommendation to the governor and the state legislature, who will have final say on the matter. The recommendations are due by Nov. 15.
The fact that Marysvilles two proposals straddle the railroads makes them a good candidate since a commuter rail station could be built in the heart of the campus, reducing traffic and making it easier for students to get to class.
I wouldnt be surprised if they treated it as one site, Lyons said. It may make sense to combine the sites together.
Kendall said there are many problems with the other proposed sites, such as a lack of sewer and water connections to the huge MacAngus Ranches site. Both Marysville and the Tulalip Tribes have refused to build connections to the pastoral land that now hosts a herd of cattle. Problems aside, Kendall said he would prefer the citys sponsored sites, but could live any of the other private proposals.
I would be ecstatic, Kendall said.
Everett may have an edge in the final cut because of the citys downtown rail and bus transit centers, but they dont have as much land to expand as the Marysville sites do. But the rail line running through the two city-backed proposals could make that a moot point.
We could put a rail stop up here, Kendall said.
The city also plans to build an overpass and freeway interchange at the site to connect Twin Lakes Avenue with Smokey Point Boulevard.
Scott Huish is the head of a company with plans to build an amusement park on Twin Lakes Avenue at 156th Street, and he seemed to be puzzled that the city of Marysville would be pitching all or part of his land to the state. While he welcomed any new projects that could attract people to the Lakewood area, he didnt see the campus coming to his 17 acres.
I dont think it will happen on our property, Huish said.
Kendall felt otherwise, mostly because of the utility connections already in place.
We could see them putting portables on that site if they wanted to get things started, Kendall said.
Arlington City Councilman Graham Smith said the first priority is to get a campus in the northern part of Snohomish County; Everett is too far south to serve Camano Island and Stanwood folks and he thought the Lakewood sites had the edge.
The Crown Park site in Arlington has a lot of wetlands, although rail is close by, it would also be pouring more traffic into the Smokey Point area. The Lakewood sites would keep cars and buses on the west side of the freeway.
I would consider it an honor if we could host a campus, Smith said. I would just love to see it in north Snohomish County.
Lyons said the Everett sites could be expensive to improve transit access, citing the confluence of I-5 and U.S. 2, although he conceded that Everett has assembled a strong political team. He said some people in the process are concerned that an Everett campus would compete with the UW Bothell branch.