Marysville gets new planning director

MARYSVILLE – Jeff Thomas is taking over as city planning director at a time of tremendous residential and commercial growth.

He has experience dealing with that in his two previous jobs – as planning director first in Bellingham and then Sammamish.

Two areas he will focus on in Marysville are bringing commercial businesses to the Cascade Industrial Center and multi-use developments to the waterfront and downtown areas. He worked on exactly those types of projects with the port and waterfront district in Bellingham.

The waterfront had been closed to the public because of logging. When that went by the wayside he was involved in bringing living wages to town and setting up a mixed-use urban village plan.

He also was involved in the renewal of Fairhaven, which years ago was dilapidated, he said. He worked with business owners and neighbors asking what they wanted to be. They set up design standards to keep that historical feel and also planned for housing to give it a true mixed-use feel with new residents, he said.

Thomas said the same thing can be done downtown here.

“We can make this something really great,” he said. “A place where people can come and dine and be entertained.”

Thomas said he knows the community is concerned about fast growth clogging up roads. But he wants to remind everyone that there was gridlock before the growth for a variety of reasons, including trains running through town. He said progress is already being made on that with the Highway 529 ramps coming off and on I-5.

However, he did say if people want to be involved in managing growth they need to take part in the Comprehensive Plan process in 2023. The last one was done in 2015.

“Where is it you want to go in the next twenty years?” he said, adding that plan sets targets for population and commerce.

He admitted it can be frustrating for communities because it can seem like infrastructure is not in place to handle growth. However it is fees collected from developers that help build things like roundabouts to deal with added traffic.

“It’s not perfect,” he said of the process. “Some times you have to re-calibrate. It’s a fine line.”

Thomas said communities need to use online, surveys, focus groups and other tools to reach out to the community to get them involved in the process.

He said he wanted to come here for a number of reasons, including being closer to his family in Bellingham and having some interesting projects and challenges in the works, such as the Civic Campus and the CIC.

While customer service improved a lot under previous planning director Dave Koenig, Thomas wants to do even better.

“There’s a lot of technology out there that can help us help ourselves,” he said.

More in News

Lost and found: Family bible back in loved ones’ hands after half a century

ARLINGTON – A treasured family Bible given as a wedding gift that… Continue reading

Arlington vows to ‘never forget’ 9/11; impart history with generation not yet born (slideshow)

ARLINGTON – Residents gathered at the 9/11 Memorial at Firehouse 46 to… Continue reading

Mom wonders why MPD shot son

MARYSVILLE – Almost a year after her son was shot to death… Continue reading

Visitors enjoy the view of Marysville from the kitchen area. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Oxford Houses turn addicts’ lives around

MARYSVILLE - When Kirstin Preheim’s dad died of a heroin overdose five… Continue reading

Volunteer fire districts get almost $600K

Driver killed; ribbon cutting; deaths

Spending on hold in Marysville until enrollment figures known

MARYSVILLE – The Marysville School District is putting a hold on major… Continue reading

Marysville keeps options open on affordable housing tax from state

MARYSVILLE – The city kept alive a chance to help fund affordable… Continue reading

First day of school: Excitement in air

ARLINGTON – If the smiles and loud summer vacation chatter that filled… Continue reading

Superheroes, lace up for 12th Annual Friendship Walk and 5K Run in Arlington

ARLINGTON – The world needs more superheroes, and you can join their… Continue reading

Most Read