By Rikki King Herald Writer
LYNNWOOD — This is a big year for Lynnwood.
Coming soon, the community of 36,000 will see its first large-scale construction crane and get its first roundabout. A trail from the heart of Lynnwood stretching to the Puget Sound waterfront is on the drawing table.
City leaders speak with optimism about the budget, bustling construction and plans for a new City Center downtown area connected to light rail.
Lynnwood — Snohomish County’s fourth-largest city — has a bright future, but more work needs to be done, Mayor Nicola Smith said Tuesday in her second annual State of the City address.
Lynnwood struggles with a reputation for congestion, shopping and suburban sprawl, according to the mayor’s presentation. Still, the past 18 months have been a time of healing, change and growth, City Council President Loren Simmonds said.
The city, “a perennial underachiever,” needed a makeover from the inside out, he said.
“A majority of us probably wondered if we’d ever get our act together as a city,” Simmonds said.
Now, he said, Lynnwood “is on the cusp of becoming the major urban center of south Snohomish County. Believe it.”
More construction is under way now than has been seen in 20 years, said Ed dos Remedios, a former councilman who was honored recently for volunteer work. He cited the plan for City Center and the approach of light rail.
“When City Center is complete, Lynnwood is not just going to be defined as the mall,” he said.
Staff have been rebuilding the city emergency fund and just last week submitted 2014 financial reports to the state Auditor’s Office, Smith said. Auditors have found fault in city finances for the past eight years in a row. Last year, now under review, was Smith’s first in office.
The mayor Tuesday also announced the hire of a new finance director, Sonja Springer, who previously worked for Mountlake Terrace.
Efforts also are under way to redesign the process for people getting business licenses, Smith said.
“I can’t wait to share the results from that,” she said.
In parks news, the city has acquired the 13-acre Seabrook Heights property. The environmentally sensitive area had been slated for development.
A trail also is being designed that would stretch from City Center to Meadowdale Beach Park.
All Lynnwood parks are getting a lighting upgrade to LEDs, with an estimated 80 percent drop in energy consumption, the mayor said. Sewer improvements in town are ongoing to the tune of $40 million, and police continue to target nuisance properties and graffiti.
The roundabout is going in this summer at the intersection of 204th Street SW and 68th Avenue W, at the south entrance to Edmonds Community College. They’re aiming to wrap up before the fall quarter starts.
Other construction projects in town include the new Costco and ring-shaped road being built north of the mall, and two apartment complexes and a hotel going into City Center, where 196th Street SW meets I-5.
Eventually, the idea is to have cars, walkers and bicyclists moving smoothly between the planned light rail station and the rest of the city.
Smith remains hopeful for Lynnwood’s future, she said.
“For so long, City Center felt like a dream, but it is beginning to become a reality,” she said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.