By Jerry Cornfield Herald Writer
OLYMPIA — The University of Washington is endorsing the findings of a state-hired consultant that Everett Station is the best site for a proposed four-year branch campus, a top official said.
“We think NBBJ came to the correct conclusion and we support it,” said Randy Hodgins, director of the university’s Office of State Relations.
NBBJ of Seattle released its study Nov. 15 ranking a 27-acre site off Pacific Avenue near the transit center ahead of properties in Marysville, Lake Stevens and near the Snohomish River in Everett.
That report is in the hands of lawmakers who are expected this session to select one of the four to be a permanent location.
On Thursday, the Senate Higher Education Committee will hold hearings on competing legislation pushing the merits of Everett and Marysville.
Hodgins, who will be testifying at the hearing, said he won’t be lobbying legislators on the selection.
“Our preference is we support the conclusions of the report. It doesn’t mean we would be reluctant to go into a different community,” Hodgins said. “If legislators decide on Marysville, we’re not going to pull out.”
Hodgins said he didn’t think the university’s position was a big secret since he and other officials had been integrally involved in the site selection process.
“I’m surprised we haven’t been asked,” he said.
Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall said he was disappointed to learn of the UW stance.
“Their goal is to have a campus. Where it goes shouldn’t matter,” he said. “For them to step out and say this is where we want to go, you think, why all of a sudden now. Why not listen to the testimony.”
Kendall said some of the testimony will raise questions about the viability of the Everett Station site.
He said there is question of whether the Everett Station site meets the criteria used by the consultant in evaluating and ranking the locations.
The 27 acres are not contiguous, one of the specific criteria set out by NBBJ in August.
Kendall said if legislators don’t change or override the criteria, then Everett Station should not be considered.