The Everett City Council’s choice about what to do with the Kimberly-Clark plant isn’t difficult.
The site is polluted from years of heavy industrial use. The polluters should be responsible for the cleanup, not the taxpayer. If the City Council decides to sell the old plant to the Port of Everett, it will assume the liability of the cleanup. The port will qualify for (and undoubtably use) state funds to get rid of the mess. Kimberly-Clark will be off the hook and taxpayers will foot the bill.
The Kimberly-Clark site should not only be rid of its pollution but should also be transformed to replace as many of the mill’s family wage jobs as possible. Experts contracted by the City Planning Department demonstrated that a business park for non-water dependent light industry and high-tech manufacturing would generate more high paying jobs and city tax revenues than continuing the site’s previous heavy industrial, water-based use. A business park for light industry would provide the kind of employment that would strengthen our regional economy well into the future.
Another obvious benefit from a light industrial, non-water based use of the Kimberly-Clark site is that it would allow some safe public access to the waterfront. This access would be impossible if another heavy industry moved in. During the city of Everett’s well-advised moratorium on the Kimberly-Clark site’s development, hundreds of concerned citizens testified at hearings and through questionnaires that public access to the old mill’s shoreline was a priority.
The City Council’s decision should be a “no-brainier”! The Port Commission, however, wants to wall off the site from the public, continue to use it for water-based heavy industry and get the taxpayers to foot the cleanup bill. Denying the Port Commission’s vision for the site may be difficult after all, particularly when one of our City Councilmen is employed by a Port Commissioner. We hope that the City Council makes the choice that coincides with both expert and public opinion. It should be easy for the City Council to choose the alternative to build a non-water dependent light industrial business park that affords public access to the waterfront and doesn’t leave tax payers footing the clean up bill.
Clay and Hap Wertheimer