By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
ARLINGTON — A business complex that is home to companies employing more than 600 people stands to benefit from a $1 million state grant to help the city fix drainage woes that cause economic problems.
The state Community Economic Revitalization Board in December committed nearly $12 million to help fund 18 projects that support community revitalization and economic development efforts.
The state received more than 100 requests for grant money. Arlington is one of the top grant winners and the only community in Snohomish County to receive the state money.
If all conditions of the grant are met, including a possible review by the Army Corps of Engineers, the city plans to use the money next summer to make Prairie Creek drainage improvements in the Jensen Business Park on 204th Street NE, between Highway 9 and 67th Avenue NE.
The drainage improvements are expected to cost close to $2.8 million, with the remainder of the money coming from a local improvement district formed among the businesses at the complex and other grants.
When the Jensen Business Park was created in the 1990s, the culverts were sized based on models and data available at that time, city spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said. Over the years, increased storm-water runoff has added to the flow in Prairie Creek, to the point where the existing culverts can’t handle big rain storms. During much of the year, the Jensen Business Park floods with water that sometimes rises up to two feet, she said.
The result is that employees can’t get to work, supplies and raw materials cannot be delivered and finished products can’t get to market, Banfield said.
“We are grateful to receive this money,” she said. “It’s going to make a huge difference to the community and to businesses that are looking to expand. The city wants to ensure that they can grow here in Arlington by finding a long-term solution to this water drainage problem.”
The city plans to clean and dredge the Prairie Creek channel during the summer when fish aren’t running in the stream. Eventually, five culverts are scheduled to be replaced.
Companies at Jensen Business Park that support the city’s effort include Senior Aerospace AMT, MicroGreen Polymers, Acute Autoworks, Enviro Propane, Bestworth Rommel and the neighboring Haggen Food and Pharmacy.
The biggest employer, AMT, which soon hopes to add more employees, works around the clock and ships most of its structural jet parts to Boeing. MicroGreen, which has a contract with Costco for recycled plastic cups, also plans to expand.
AMT officials have said they do not want to have to relocate the company. Darrell Bussard, AMT’s CEO, said a day of manufacturing lost to flooding can cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars and delays to the aerospace companies AMT supplies.
“We are very appreciative of the city’s interest in this situation, the state grant and a fix that will give us the confidence to expand at this location. It’s huge for us,” Brussard said. “Now we are just hoping Mother Nature will be kind to us this winter so we can get through without flooding.”
In a statement from the state Community Economic Revitalization Board, chairman Mark Urdahl said all of the grant-winning projects involved infrastructure improvements, which the board believes are the foundation of economic growth.
“Local jurisdictions need these public services to attract and support businesses and jobs,” Urdahl said.
The city is completing the necessary engineering and permitting work for the project in anticipation of a construction start as the funding becomes available in 2013, Banfield said.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.