Neighborhoods to put city money to work

EVERETT – When David Lambert and his family moved to Everett from Seattle last year, they fell in love with their new neighborhood.

Unlike Seattle, his house in Everett’s Riverside Neighborhood, situated north of 19th Street between Broadway and the Snohomish River, had sidewalks in front for strolling and an all-around, tight-knit feel.

There was just one thing, something he noticed on a walk down Rainier Avenue, Riverside needed more trees.

The newcomer decided to get involved and wrote a proposal that helped win his neighborhood a $10,000 city grant to buy trees.

By the end of the year, Riverside residents will have bought and planted 100 trees on the parking strips of at least 50 residents’ front yards.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” Lambert said. “I feel like I’ve been here for 20 years.”

The city, through its Office of Neighborhoods, also awarded $10,000 to a neighborhood on its east side – Harborview, Seahurst, Glenhaven. Residents there are renovating a neighborhood landmark – an old pump house at the corner of Seahurst Avenue and Mukilteo Boulevard.

The historical brick pump house is at a highly visible intersection yet is crumbling and dangerous. It likely would have been demolished and hauled away this year if not for the city grant, said Gene Lilley, the renovation project coordinator.

Neighbors hope to transform the small, abandoned building – which years ago housed the pump that sent drinkable water into a wooden storage tank up the road – into an attractive viewpoint of the bay and shelter for bikers, walkers and school kids.

“This is a perfect example of how the city is living up to its commitment of supporting its neighborhood associations,” said Tom Norcott, the neighborhood’s chairman. “We’re taking something that’s in shambles and turning it into something that’s going to be very special.”

Every year, Everett’s neighborhoods can apply for $42,500 in city mini-grants for small projects. Because not every neighborhood applies, the city had money left over for larger projects.

Last year, three neighborhoods received $10,000 matching grants for projects. Two used the money to renovate parks; one to kick-start a ravine-rehabilitation.

“These (projects) are a scale that you simply can’t accomplish with the mini-grants,” said Wendy McClure, city neighborhoods coordinator. “We hope in the future we might be able to offer this size grant again, but we’re not sure how soon.”

Because the awards are matching grants, neighborhoods must provide a matching $10,000-worth of work on the project, usually time spent planning and working.

Both neighborhoods will count on volunteers to complete their projects.

For the pump house, the Harborview, Seahurst, Glenhaven group will call on residents for evening and weekend work parties this summer. Lilley said the neighborhood would like to finish the project by fall with an open house and ribbon cutting.

In Riverside, Lambert and other volunteers will be planting trees on weekends in the spring and fall. At the project’s completion, the neighborhood is planning a “Greener Riverside” celebration in November.

McClure said it’s important for the city to invest in neighborhoods, even in tough budget times, because every dollar is multiplied in various ways.

“It builds bridges, and people start connecting where maybe they might not otherwise,” she said. “Plus, the projects create a more-attractive outcome for those neighborhoods and the city as a whole.”

Reporter Jennifer Warnick: 425-339-3429 or jwarnick@heraldnet.com.

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