M’ville needs a catalyst for waterfront development

MARYSVILLE – Like a motorcycle rider, downtown Marysville needs a "kick start" to get going.

MARYSVILLE – Like a motorcycle rider, downtown Marysville needs a “kick start” to get going.

Because it received status as a “distressed community,” the city has received $400,000 in grants from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up and revitalize its quarter-mile of waterfront and downtown area of about eight blocks.

Officials met in a day-long meeting June 26 to discuss how to make it happen.

“We had to pick an area to focus on – a hub,” Mayor Jon Nehring said.

He said the goal is to have 10 things to do in areas connected by walkways. On one end could be the Spray Park, with possible music at Comeford Park. On the other end would be the water, with maybe kayak rentals. There might be a park where people could play basketball. In-between there could be some multi-story housing, like apartments or condominiums. But on the first floor of those high-rises would be retail stores or boutiques. An EPA consultant envisions a brewery or wine bar. Grocery and retail stores are needed, along with some interesting restaurants, like the new Mod Pizza that is planned next to the new bank at Fourth and State.

Nehring would like to see it all tie together with the new Qwuloolt Trail about a half-mile to the east so folks could enjoy biking, too.

“We want to make downtown more walkable with more activity,” he said.

Chief Administrative Officer Gloria Hirashima said the EPA consultants weren’t there to change what the city wanted to do, but to help them advance their plans. The EPA said the city already has done some great things, such as new downtown construction and the Spray Park.

“Now don’t walk away,” they said, according to Hirashima. “Find diverse activities to go on there year-round. And focus on that area, instead of spreading them out.”

The consultants gave examples like moving the farmers’ market there, and also possibly a regional ice skate park.

“It needs to become, ‘The Talk,'” she said.

As for the waterfront, Hirashima said ideas included expanding the public park where the boat launch is on the west side of State. On the east side, the vision is for some mixed-use private development, such as a multi-story building with shops on the first floor and condos above.

In response to a Globe survey in last week’s paper on the same subject, Jason and Annette Diamond said their ideal waterfront and downtown would include: upscale restaurants, entertainment, museums, piers, water park and an indoor amusement park. They already enjoy Cristiano’s, Regal Cinemas and the Centennial Trail. They say Ebey Waterfront Park is a nice start. Their only concern about downtown development is that over- or under-passes are needed for the train tracks.

Another reader said before making waterfront improvements the city should put in more sidewalks and street lights. He said he’s all for sprucing up Marysville, but safety concerns need to be addressed first.