Edmonds’ quality of life efforts honored

EDMONDS — This is one of two cities in the state to be recognized by the Governor’s Smart Communities Awards.

The program was started nine years ago by Gov. Chris Gregoire to recognize smart growth planning and projects that contribute to Washington’s quality of life.

Edmonds received an award of merit for a strategic action plan developed over two years. The judges were impressed by public participation in the plan, which involved a range of interests and age groups, said Jeff Wilson, a senior managing director for the state’s growth management services.

“It’s one of the best examples we’ve seen in terms of public participation in plan development,” he said. The city went above and beyond what was required, Wilson said.

The city hosted open houses, held workshops, scheduled one-on-one meetings and conducted surveys to get widespread involvement from the community, said Mayor Dave Earling. Hundreds of people participated, he said.

The plan, which was approved in April 2013, outlines 86 things that the public would like to see the city address, from economic sustainability to allowing community gardens to finding a way to upgrade the city’s Yost Pool.

“The important thing to understand is the public found 86 issues they felt were important, and they were incorporated into a document,” Earling said. “We’re trying to work from that list to get as much done as we can.”

One of plan’s overall goals is to improve communication with residents through steps such as quarterly town meetings and use of social media, such as Facebook, Google+ and YouTube, Earling said. That’s in addition to the city’s electronic newsletter.

“We’re trying to reach the community in as many ways as possible,” he said.

The city of Walla Walla also received a merit award for its residential guidelines.

Overall, 16 cities, five counties, two ports and one school district received awards for smart growth planning.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

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