Down to 9 spots for UW branch

OLYMPIA — The list is in.

A committee has narrowed the possible sites for a new University of Washington branch campus from 73 to nine.

Marysville has six sites on the list. Everett has two and Arlington has one. Stanwood didn’t make the cut.

The committee charged with recommending sites to the Legislature decided the new college should be between Arlington and Everett, and within five miles of I-5.

Plans call for the college to focus on out-of-the-classroom learning, which is basically “internships on steroids,” said Deb Merle, the governor’s higher education policy adviser and a member of the site committee. In order for the plan to work, the new college must be close to businesses, schools, hospitals and nonprofit groups, she said.

The committee evaluated sites in Snohomish, Skagit and Island counties, but ultimately decided the Everett-to-Arlington area would offer more opportunities and shorter drives for most students, Merle said.

“We are trying to serve this three-county region but that doesn’t mean find the dead center and put a college there,” she said.

Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall was pleased, but not surprised, that his community had the most sites on the short list.

“I think that’s great,” he said. “We’re ready. We’re up to the task. We’re ready to go to work and do what we need to do to try and move this forward in our favor.”

Usually upbeat Stanwood Mayor Dianne White was somber Wednesday after hearing that the sites she spent 3 1/2 years promoting didn’t make the cut.

White thinks the committee is making a mistake by “landlocking” the college near Everett, away from many residents in the tri-county region.

“They’re just turning their back on that population and if that’s what they want to do, that’s what they want to do,” she said. “The only good thing I can see about it is we won’t spend more time and energy.”

The committee composed of staff from the Office of Financial Management, the University of Washington and Seattle contractor NBBJ is inviting landowners with property that meets the new criteria to submit proposals for the college. The committee may add sites submitted by Sept. 15 to its short list.

A final recommendation of three or four sites is due to the Legislature by Nov. 15.

“We just want to make absolutely triple sure that we are scrubbing this area and giving the Legislature recommendations for the best sites for this monumental decision we’re asking them to make, which will commit them over the long haul for millions and millions of dollars,” Merle said.

The new college will likely focus on science, technology, engineering and math. Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said the project has the potential to have a huge effect on the future of the region.

He was elated that two Everett sites made the short list.

“It is a huge deal,” he said. “I think of all the issues that I’ve worked on in the last three and a half years, this clearly is the largest, biggest, most important.”

Talk of a new college has been floating around for decades. But the committee’s work and promises from politicians have given college supporters hope that the new branch will be built soon.

“We have a really golden opportunity here where a lot of people are rowing in the same direction,” Merle said. “And we might actually be able to really pull this off instead of just talking about it for another 10 years.”

Reporter Kaitlin Manry: 425-339-3292 or kmanry@heraldnet.com.

There’s still time

Landowners meeting specific criteria are still invited to submit proposals for the new University of Washington branch campus to be built on their land.

To be considered, the sites must be:

  • Located between Arlington and Everett.

  • Within five miles of I-5.

  • At least 25 acres of developable, contiguous land, with the potential for future growth.

  • Located within or adjacent to an existing Urban Growth Area.

  • Easily assembled parcels of property, with owners who are willing to sell the land to build a university campus.

    For more information, contact NBBJ principal Martin Regge at 206-223-5105 or mregge@nbbj.com.

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