Talk begins on future of Everett mill site

EVERETT — Employees at the city’s last large waterfront mill worked their final shifts Sunday, and the city is already well under way with plans for the land.

Ultimately, it will be up to property owner Kimberly-Clark to choose a buyer for the site. The company said it’s already had nibbles from potential buyers.

The city is deciding if it should craft rules to limit the type of development allowed at the mill site and on adjacent properties. They want to know what residents think about it.

Find an online survey at http://tiny.cc/MillSiteSurvey. The city asks people to rank what they find most important, including public access, waterfront views, pollution clean-up, jobs and property rights.

The Kimberly-Clark mill rests on more than 60 acres of prime city waterfront, sandwiched between the naval base and Port of Everett land.

The area is zoned for heavy manufacturing — what Everett’s planning director Alan Giffen called “a generous zone.” Right now, a variety of businesses could set up shop on the site, including heavy industrial, commercial, office, retail and entertainment.

The Everett City Council earlier this year passed an emergency moratorium on any development of that property, fearing that Kimberly-Clark would sell and an “undesirable use” would spring up on the prime waterfront acreage.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said he wants to see cleaner industry that would employ many people.

The city has already gotten some feedback at a public meeting earlier this month. Those who attended supported cleaning up contamination, providing public access and landing a company that would create jobs, Giffen said.

People also expressed concern about Everett’s image and the aesthetics of the waterfront. Some wanted to make sure any new development wouldn’t block water views.

The city hired economic consultant Greg Easton of Property Counselors to prepare an economic report on the type of businesses that would be most economically viable.

The city also hired an attorney with expertise on environmental clean up issues, and another consultant, Makers, a land use firm based in Seattle.

Meanwhile, there are potential buyers already interested in the plant, said Kimberly-Clark spokesman Bob Brand. It’s too early in the process to provide more details, he said.

One of those suitors has already made vocal pitches to city leaders. Representatives for a company based in Dayton, Tenn., called Energex Production Co., approached city leaders at public meetings.

The company would like to set up a biofuel plant, in which discarded lumber, tires and the like would be transformed into fuel, said Tom Derpack, an independent consultant based in Edmonds who is working with the company.

The company also is interested in taking advantage of the co-generation plant located at the mill, so it could produce electricity that could be sold to the Snohomish County Public Utility District.

Little information is available to the public about the company, which is not connected with separate companies of the same name in Florida, Pennsylvania nor overseas.

No one at the Chamber of Commerce in, Dayton, Tenn., had heard of the company. Energex has a business license filed with the state of Tennessee but does not have a business license filed with Rhea County where Dayton is located.

Energex representatives did share a preliminary proposal for repurposing the Kimberly-Clark site with the PUD, said spokesman Neil Neroutsos.

“However, it’s too early for the PUD to comment on any role it might play before the viability of the proposal is determined between Energex and Kimberly-Clark,” he said.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or dsmith@heraldnet.com.

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