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Mville makes pitch for branch campus
MARYSVILLE This city has dropped the bait in the water to catch a new University of Washington branch campus.
City leaders are dangling a package of land near Lakewood totaling more than 300 acres, just southwest of the railroad tracks near the new Costco store and Gissberg Twin Lakes Park.
Many towns and cities in Snohomish County are vying for the new campus, slated to serve north county residents with a four-year university branch steered toward technical studies. The land proposed by Marysville officials for the campus stretches from the Burlington Northern Sante Fe tracks on the east to Forty Five Road on the west.
The campus would serve locals and commuters from around the county, and most students would create a reverse commute where they are plying the roads at the opposite times most drivers are on the roads.
The actual site proposed by Marysville officials is located on 75 acres just outside the citys Urban Growth Area, a footprint that is supposed to delimit and contain municipal expansion. There is also another 250 acres available if state planners need it, according to Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall, who said the package of land is owned by three different groups who are all on board with city plans.
Ken Lyons and Todd Arrambide are partners with Lighthouse Projects of Lake Forest Park and they said their assembly of land should fit the bill perfectly for a campus that can serve students from Stanwood, Mount Vernon and points north.
The property has the three things needed: location, location, location; and for developers or schools, that includes proximity to the regions transportation spine, I-5, and water and sewer connections. Since Marysville just put water up to their plot on Forty Five Road that puts the land in play, and a new interchange and bridge over the freeway at I-5 will make access a snap.
The property does seem to afford all the things the site selection criteria identify. Its got great access to utilities and roads, Arrambide said. Were interested in the concept but were not sure what the odds are.
Lyons noted that the UW Bothell campus is located on a 130-acre site with 40 percent wetlands for a total of 70 buildable acres. Like their proposal, that campus is near an interstate I-405 and a state highway, SR 522.
That turned out to be a beautiful site, Lyons said.
In addition to the high paying jobs a university draws, the Lakewood area will serve the north county area better than any of the other proposed locations, especially those put forward by the city of Everett, which Lyons said is too far south to serve commuters from Skagit County. Since the Tulalip Tribes pulled out of the running, the Lighthouse proposal is the only one left that would serve locals well.
Were excited about the obvious pull for that there, Arrambide said. Theres a lot of kids that would love to go to school near there.
For Lyons, a Husky who got his planning degree from the UW, being involved in a potential UW campus is a point of pride and privilege.
Weve been excited about putting our stamp on history, Lyons said. We get to say for the next 100 years to our family that we sold them the land for that college. Its kind of a personal pride for us.
Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall said that north Everett has a couple of things going for it, mostly the proximity to mass transit and the Community Transit bus hub in that city. But having a rail line directly next to the Marysville site means the potential for a Sound Transit commuter rail stop someday, something that might sway the selection committee considering several different sites.
We know that the college needs to be in the north end of the county, Kendall said.
A UW campus in Lakewood would actually help the crowded streets, according to Kendall, who said the city is committed to start on a freeway overpass at about 156th to 152nd streets, from Twin Lakes Avenue on the west side of the freeway to Smokey Point Boulevard on the east. Plans are to build the bridge and then add an interchange or full or partial clover leaf at a later time. Building the UW campus could actually move that timeline forward.
If the college is coming we could get the whole thing done, or at least get it done sooner, Kendall said.
City spokesman Doug Buell noted that the site selection study done for the state Higher Education Coordinating Board identified north Everett and Marysville as the top two potential hosts for the campus, adding that south Everett is already served by the Bothell campus. The plot pitched by Marysville has plenty of growing room, with room for a potential campus build out of 300 acres by 2025.
Everett doesnt have anything that big, Buell said.
Marysville Chief Administrative officer Mary Swenson said the campus would compliment the mix of businesses planned for the former NASCAR site, a 687-acre swath of flat, build able land slated to be the citys family-wage job generator. The businesses that will fill the business parks planned for the Smokey Point gap will likely be high tech industries hungry for skilled and educated workers.
I think some of the business opportunities that come with the college could be very good for the community, depending on the college, Swenson said. It could really compliment each other.
In addition a college campus would help provide an even keel for a city that was first heavy on residential housing, then veered toward attracting retail and commercial development, and is now working on building a strong industrial base. City leaders want a balanced city, and even towns with a strong tax base always welcome a college or university.
We really feel that the Lakewood site compliments what we were trying to do with the Smokey Point master plan, Swenson said.