By Bob McChesney
First of all, thank you for all the thoughtful comments we received about the Harbor Square redevelopment brochure recently mailed to you. We sincerely appreciate them.
We do need to reemphasize one thing, though. The brochure is not the plan. In fact, at the moment we are several months away from having a finalized plan.
The brochure was meant to show, first, that significant progress was being made in the planning process toward determining the future of Harbor Square, and second, it attempted to show an example of the sort of imaginative, yet practical, things it might be possible to do there.
The thoughts and ideas presented reflected the cooperative work of many of our community’s best minds over the past two years, as well as a large amount of public input that the Port received during a series of public meetings. The brochure showed an idea, not the idea. At this point there is no preferred alternative.
Without boring you with the numerous administrative details that go into a major public project like this, let me simply say that the elected commissioners of the Port of Edmonds will be asked to approve a Harbor Square Redevelopment Master Plan sometime during 2012, after which the process will continue with review by the city of Edmonds. The goal is to achieve an amendment to the city’s Comprehensive Plan that will enable the entitlement process to continue.
At their March 12 meeting the commissioners discussed the process that they would be following in arriving at a finalized plan. As a next step they authorized moving forward to complete the SEPA process. (That acronym stands for the State Environmental Policy Act.) It anticipates a 30-day public comment period, after which the Commission will be presented with final parameters, which will allow it to then decide how to proceed further.
There are many steps and we will have numerous opportunities to give you progress reports before a final plan is approved. Stay tuned.
One additional point of clarification: The most frequent questions and comments we have received thus far concern the future of the Harbor Square Athletic Club. It is a key assumption by everyone involved that the Athletic Club will continue to be an integral part of Harbor Square’s future. They have a long-term lease and are an anchor tenant. Throughout the planning process, as options have been considered, ideas about them moving to another location in Harbor Square have been discussed. For example, the tennis courts could move to another area. But any such ideas are just that: ideas.
Exploring ideas is what this careful planning process is all about. Occasionally some ideas develop a life of their own and become rumor, but until you hear it from the Port or some other official source nearly all such rumors will be nothing more than that: rumors.
Meanwhile I want to thank you once again for your comments and in particular for your interest in the Harbor Square redevelopment project. Quite literally, we can’t do it without you.
Bob McChesney is executive director of the Port of Edmonds.