Tentative plan made to divide former tank farm on Mukilteo’s shoreline

MUKILTEO — The mosaic of the new Mukilteo waterfront is beginning to come into view.

Five government agencies have drawn up a tentative plan for dividing the 22-acre former U.S. Air Force tank farm on the city’s shoreline.

The state for years has planned a new ferry terminal for the site, but that takes up less than half the land. As for the rest, it’s been anybody’s guess.

The first step in determining how the property will be used — its ownership — may be settled soon. The Port of Everett recently received the land as a donation from the Air Force and is negotiating deals on parcels with the state, the city of Mukilteo, Sound Transit and the Tulalip Tribes.

The far west end, next to the current waterfront business district, would go to the city of Mukilteo for possible commercial, residential or mixed use. The city will solicit ideas from the public for how to use the property, Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said.

“We’re going to have a big conversation with the community and the City Council to help further develop that vision for the waterfront,” she said.

The current waterfront property, where the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration operates a research lab, will remain in the hands of the agency. Plans are in the works to replace the current lab, in a former military building, with a new structure, according to Gregerson. Directly to the east of the NOAA lab, the city would receive a waterfront parcel, likely for public access. A beachfront walkway could be placed behind the NOAA building.

Between this parcel and the railroad tracks, and stretching to the east, would be the $140 million ferry terminal. State officials are targeting construction to begin in 2015 and conclude in 2017.

Next to the terminal, along the tracks, a rectangular parcel is set aside for Sound Transit parking. The number of spaces has yet to be determined, agency spokeswoman Kimberly Reason said.

Sound Transit just this month began working on an $8.1 million addition to the current train platform and a pedestrian bridge to connect the water side of the tracks with Old Town Mukilteo. That work is expected to be done in 2015.

Next, beyond the ferry terminal, another parcel would go to the city for open space.

“There’ll be a more natural feel down at that end,” Gregerson said.

Japanese Gulch Creek currently runs through a culvert beneath the tank farm and empties into Possession Sound. Plans call for the creek to be restored to its natural state.

The next parcel could go to the Tulalip Tribes. The port is negotiating an agreement with the tribes for this piece of property, said Les Reardanz, deputy director for the port. A city-owned walkway would provide public access to the beach along this stretch.

The last piece, set aside as a park in 2008 when the port built its adjacent container terminal, would be the only piece to remain in the port’s hands, Reardanz said. Parking spaces were put into Edgewater Park but those and the park are largely unused because access was cut off when the Sounder commuter train parking area and turnaround were built.

The port is planning later this year to build a new access road to the park. The city this summer plans to build a footpath to the beach from the Sounder parking area, which also would allow people to reach the park.

The cost of the land transfers to the various agencies will vary, Reardanz said. The port and state are planning a one-for-one land swap, with the state getting the land for the ferry terminal and the port taking ownership of the land where its container terminal now sits. The port has been leasing the property from the state.

The port could donate the open space and public access portions of Mukilteo’s property to the city, Reardanz said. By state law, the port might require some type of compensation for the commercial property, he said.

“We are talking with them about doing some sort of in-kind,” he said.

The agreement could be made final by early April, Reardanz said. After that, the land transfers may take place, he said.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; bsheets@heraldnet.com.

Have your say

The public on Tuesday can have a chance to weigh in the state’s plans for a new ferry terminal on the Mukilteo waterfront. An open house is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Mukilteo City Hall, 11930 Cyrus Way, followed by a hearing from 7 to 9 p.m.

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