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Efforts must continue to bring UW branch campus to north county
Despite the Jan. 21 vote by the Senate Higher Education Committee to approve SB 6391, elected officials, business owners, residents and students in north Snohomish County and Skagit and Island counties should continue their efforts to bring the University of Washington branch campus to the proposed site in Marysville.
Senate Bill 6391, which was sponsored by Senators Paull Shin (21st District), Jean Berkey (38th District), Jerome Delvin (8th District), Rosa Franklin (29th District), Time Sheldon (35th District), Dan Swecker (20th District) and Marilyn Rasmussen (2nd District), deals with the creation of a University of Washington branch campus and specifically designates Everett as the site of that branch campus. But the Higher Education Committees action is not the final word and those supporting the proposed north county site must continue to act before a final decision is made.
Starting with 73 proposed sites, the selection process narrowed the candidates down to four with Pacific Station in Everett as the number one choice followed closely by the site in Smokey Point in north Marysville. A site in Lake Stevens is also under consideration but it is an unlikely choice. There are a number of significant differences between the two preferred sites and legislators should be encouraged to consider those differences before making their final recommendation to the governor.
One of the biggest differences is the size of the proposed sites. The site in Marysville offers more than 350 acres which would allow expansion to meet the needs of a growing student population which is critical given that the anticipated enrollment would be 5,000 students by 2025. The Everett site offers approximately 30 acres which would significantly limit the potential and opportunity for growth. As a point of comparison, the site of the Marysville School Districts planned new 1,600-student high school is 42 acres, nearly 50 percent larger than the Everett site which would need to serve more than three times as many students. Clearly, if legislators are looking to serve the needs of a growing student population well into the future, the proposed site in Marysville offers the greatest opportunity for growth and expansion while the proposed Everett site would limit future expansion.
When it recently approved a resolution to support Everetts Pacific Station site, the Snohomish County Council cited population data that they say shows that 70 percent of the students who will use a North Sound UW campus will be living in Everett and south Snohomish County but in doing so the County Council is overlooking the needs of the students in north Snohomish County, and Island and Skagit counties. Clearly the Marysville site would provide better access and commuter ease for all of the students, especially those coming in from the north. Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, addressed this saying, They have Bothell. For us, it really needs to serve needs. Its closer to Bothell from Everett than it is from Everett to Mount Vernon people just wont go. In addition, Haugen also pointed out that the proposed Everett site could not handle all the parking demands created by the new campus. Everett Mayor Ray Stephenson said that 100 parking spaces would be available, but would 100 spaces meet the needs of 5,000 potential students?
Access to businesses and industries is another issue as the proposed campus will focus on experimental learning and academic-industry internships. While supporters of the Everett site point to large employers such as Boeing, legislators making the final recommendation to Gov. Christine Gregoire should not discount the fact that north Snohomish County has many small businesses and industries just as willing and, as importantly, just as able to provide those learning opportunities and internships. Clearly both sites have economic supporters, but selecting a site for a North Sound campus should not be about economics. It should be doing what is best, in the short term as well as the long term, for the university and all of the students who would attend. And the need to serve all students is why elected officials in Skagit and Island counties support the Marysville site.
And its not too late to get involved to encourage state legislators and the governor to make the right decision. Contact state senators and members of the state house, as well as the governor, and let them know that you want the North Sound UW branch campus to serve everyone, not just those who call Everett home. You can go to www.arlingtontimes.com or www.marysvilleglobe.com and click on the link to elected officials. There you will find links to email the senators and house members who represent the districts covering Marysville and Arlington. You will also find a link to the state government Web site which will allow you to contract all members of the Washington Senate and House of Representatives, as well as Gov. Christine Gregoire who will make the final decision.
To contact a member of The Marysville Globe/Arlington Times editorial board Kris Passey or Scott Frank e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.