Floodgate of open-gate debate

By KATE REARDON

Herald Writer

MUKILTEO — What goes up, must come down.

That saying rings true, at least for now, for the steel gate at Saint Andrews Drive and 116th Street SW.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Richard Thorpe on Thursday ordered the city to open the gate that blocks the street until a final decision on whether the gate is illegal can be made.

But first, Citizens for Connected Communities, the group suing the city, has to post a $5,000 bond by court order.

Thorpe’s ruling was met with mixed feelings.

Danny Beasley of the citizens group said he was excited about the decision.

"I don’t want to say it’s a victory for the group, but a victory for the city and the citizens," Beasley said, adding that bond could be posted within the next few days. "A majority out there don’t want the gate."

Mayor Don Doran said the city council decision to close the road came after three votes and several years of work.

"I’m extremely disappointed," Doran said. "We do intend to open it because that’s what the court asked us to do."

The street was closed Aug. 29 after many residents of Saint Andrews Drive complained that the half-mile road had become a speedway and a breeding ground for vandalism.

Private donations paid for the $17,000 gate after the city council voted in May to close the residential road.

More than 1,500 vehicles use the road a day and more than 10 of those travel at speeds in excess of 60 mph, a recent study showed. Opponents of the gate questioned the study and say the gate is a misguided attempt to curb crime.

"If we truly have the type of vandalism that is going on here, we need to work together and not push it over the fence," Beasley said. "The problem with this gate is that it has divided people."

Andrew Czernek, who lives five houses from the gate, said crime has dropped since the gate went up.

"Drive-by vandalism in the area has been rampant for years," Czernek said. "Since the street closed a month ago it virtually disappeared."

Czernek said he’s concerned that the gate will be opened.

"We’re going to be the victims of this," he said, adding that two windows were broken and seven lights were shot by guns before the gate was installed. "This is a convenience issue for the people complaining; it’s a safety issue for us."

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