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Efforts to lure UW campus continue
MARYSVILLE We are poring through the report and we are vocalizing to the people who will listen to us, Chief Administrative Officer Mary Swenson told The Marysville City Council last week.
Swenson was referring to the study issued by a state site selection committee charged with making a recommendation to the state legislature on a location for a new branch campus of the University of Washington.
As has been well publicized, the study named a location in Everett as their first choice for the campus. The Marysville site came in second.
But according to city officials and other backers of the site on the Marysville/Arlington border, the states study was flawed in a number of ways. City officials are on a mission to point out those flaws to legislators, who have the final say on where the campus lands. Fortunately, from the citys point of view, some of those legislators are among those seemingly willing to listen to local leaders.
Swenson was among the local leaders who oversaw a presentation on the Marysville location Nov. 19 at the Hawthorne Inn in Smokey Point. While the meeting was closed to the public, those in attendance included State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-10, and several other legislative leaders.
Predictably, Swenson said for the most part, Marysville backers concentrated on what they see as the flaws in the site selection report. Just as it has in the recent past, Swenson said her key argument revolved around the amount of landfill state consultants contend would be needed to make the Marysville location work.
Consultants NBBJ of Seattle say the Marysville property would have to be raised three to five feet because of high groundwater. The city argues thats not the case, that a pond system already under construction controls the ground water and makes the land usable. Swenson feels its important city officials get the facts, as they see them, out into the public for fear the states report might scare away other developers should Marysville loose the fight for the university campus.
Finally, Swenson expressed concern over media reports, printed elsewhere, that had city officials and city consultants talking personally, by phone, with Gov. Christine Gregoire regarding the campus issue. Swenson said those phone calls never happened.
Arlington officials also attended the Nov. 19 meeting and have been vocal supporters of bringing the University of Washington to Marysville. A lot of the problems described in the report arent possible, said Arlington interim Community Development Director Bill Blake.
He made his comments to Arlingtons City Council and, like Swenson, was addressing the landfill issue, focusing on the pond system already partly in place. He also feels the regulatory climate surrounding the Marysville site is optimal due to the cooperation between Marysville and Arlington.
Those cities once fought over who should control the 800-plus acres now targeted for the campus.
Its paid off, Blake said, the time we spent working with Marysville over the last several years.
From Arlingtons point of view, Blake also argued the campus would be a huge plus for that city in at least one way outside the obvious economic benefits. The campus would provide, Blake argued, an eco-friendly development that would not harm a major aquifer Arlington will be relying on as a water source for decades to come.
Haugens office did not return a phone call. Following the session in Smokey Point, both she and other state-level representatives took a tour of the Marysville location and Everetts Pacific Station location, the site preferred by the selection committee. Swenson noted an Everett official joined the tour at that point.
As Marysville continues to fight to bring the campus project here, one assumes Everett officials are just as eager to maintain the advantage handed them by the states site committee.
While there will be a considerable amount of work ahead of us, we are excited to welcome the UW to Everett, Everett Mayor Ray Stephenson said in a press release. We believe, he continued, that as this preferred location is considered by the legislature, that Everett will prove to be the most economical and comprehensive site for a university.
An Everett City Hall spokesperson did not return a call requesting further comment on that citys strategy as the selection process moves forward.
On another front, Swenson said a possible development by Providence Health Services could end up being a point in the citys favor. But that development doesnt seem likely to happen for some time.
Owners of the Providence Everett Medical Center, the Providence corporation recently purchased land adjacent to the potential Marysville campus location. According to Swenson, Providence is looking to build a medical service campus at the location. She was hopeful the medical campus might well compliment the university campus, helping provide the sorts of internships and out-of-school learning experiences state officials repeatedly have indicated are key to the success of the university branch.
We dont have particular plans yet, said Providence spokesperson Karina Jennings. The hospital system purchased 8.7 acres, she said, with the future growth of the Marysville area in mind, adding any development of the parcel is probably five to 10 years away.
On a more grassroots level, city Planning Commission member Becky Foster said community-based efforts backing a Marysville campus will l continue. Foster is one of the organizers of group calling themselves Real Huskies Go North (of Everett.) As the state selection committee traveled around to various public forums discussing the potential campus, the Real Huskies group made sure Marysville well was represented, handing out banners and T-shirts promoting the city.
I think our group will continue to rally the troops, Foster said. Last week, noting the site selection committee report had only recently surfaced, she said her group has no formal strategy laid out. Still, she believes that strategy will arrive.
Foster believes Everett may have gotten a bit of a jump in terms of organizing its public lobbying efforts.
Our group was very late in forming, she said. That doesnt mean we wont continue on.