OLYMPIA — A new day and new venue didn’t change the arguments on whether a proposed University of Washington campus should be built in Everett or Marysville.
Thirty-five people testified Monday to the House Higher Education Committee on bills to plant the UW flag near the Everett Station or on the edge of Marysville in Smokey Point.
Many of them reprised their roles and repeated their comments from a hearing two weeks ago in front of a Senate panel.
A state-hired consultant ranked Everett and Marysville sites as the top two locations for a college with a potential population of 5,000 students in 20 years.
That analysis by NBBJ of Seattle scored 31 acres around Everett Station slightly higher than 369 privately owned acres in the Smokey Point area in Marysville. The consultant made clear both properties could handle the anticipated demands.
The Legislature is now considering the turf question and trying to decide if it wants to commit the state to building a new four-year college — with an estimated $800 million price tag at full build-out.
Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson and Snohomish County Councilman Brian Sullivan urged legislators to act this session, saying this is the last, best hope to get a college. They urged passage of House Bill 2548 to establish the campus in Everett.
Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, the bill’s sponsor, told the committee that in choosing a site they should consider what “entices” students to a college.
He said they want to know “where is the nearest Thai restaurant and where can I go to have a beer after school” when they make their selection. Everett offers proximity to eateries, jobs and transportation, he said.
Those pushing for the Marysville property backed House Bill 2814 to set strict criteria for legislators to follow if and when a vote on a site is taken. It does not specify the Marysville property but is written in a way that it would wind up the likely selection.
Rep. Dave Quall, D-Mount Vernon, the bill’s author, said the 369 acres situated farther north is a better fit for potential students coming from north Snohomish County and Island and Skagit counties.
And he said he traveled to the Everett site and realized the UW’s Bothell campus would be “an arms-length away, and to build another branch campus in the area gave me claustrophobia.”
Several Marysville site supporters criticized the NBBJ report and questioned the validity of the process, as they did in the Senate hearing two weeks ago.
Since the report came out in November, it’s been determined Everett’s site is 4 acres smaller and the property is actually two parcels rather than one; NBBJ required proposals be contiguous developable land to be considered.
“We’re not trying to nitpick,” said land owner Bill Binford. “The rules were set. We followed the rules. Like it or not, Everett did not qualify.”
The committee did not take action on the bills Monday.
Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623 or email@example.com.
HB 2548: Authorizing a branch campus of the University of Washington at Everett.
HB 2814: Providing criteria for the siting of an institution of higher education in the north Puget Sound region.