Polls point to Snohomish’s future


Herald Writer

SNOHOMISH — In just a few years, residents may need to go only as far as Bickford Avenue to work in the high-tech industry.

Near there, a community college or business school would be a place that residents could learn new skills.

There may even be "skyscrapers" along Avenue D.

Those are some of the ideas that have surfaced as a local task force has met to brainstorm the economic future of the city.

Residents will get a first look at the ideas at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Snohomish High School, 1316 Fifth St.

The open house is a chance to review and help prioritize the ideas.

The ideas are creative and exciting, said Ann Cailey, a senior planner with the city.

"With the population growth that is projected for our area, we will have a need for at least 10,000 jobs by the year 2005," Cailey said. "If we don’t have those jobs here in Snohomish, our residents will be filling up the highways to drive to work.

"The premise is that people like to live and work in the same community, and we know that is the case in Snohomish.

"So the need is to know and plan for what kinds of jobs we will need, here, to support the local economy."

With a $29,500 grant from the U.S. Forest Service, and $10,000 from the Snohomish Chamber of Commerce and the Historic Snohomish Business Association, consultants were hired to survey residents about their shopping, work, and social behaviors. They also looked at why some businesses have not been successful in Snohomish.

In on-the-street questioning and telephone surveys, business owners, customers, employees and residents were asked to tell where they shop and why, how often they shop, where they work and why, and what changes they would like to see in Snohomish in types of shops and services available, and possible jobs they want.

The data were given to representatives of the citizen task force and consultants working on an economic development plan.

The results were general groupings of how the city can grow and what various areas should be targeted.

Among the results were:

  • That the Maple Avenue/Pine Avenue area should be developed to be like the Fremont area in Seattle with small shops and entrepreneur businesses.

  • That Avenue D should stay as the heart of the city’s service area with grocery and drug stores, gasoline stations and fast-food places. It should be more dense and seek to have taller buildings with the area built to be pedestrian-friendly.

  • That the Bickford Avenue area should be where business development happens, with campus-style office complexes hosting high-tech employers. It also could be home to smaller education institutions, possibly a community or business college. This area lends itself well to an employment-education base because of its close proximity to highways.

  • That the Harvey Airport area could remain as is, with an airport and rural character, because of floods. Or to extend sewers to the area and allow some industrial-type development and more density.

  • That the historic business area should continue as is with its strong emphasis on antiques and preservation of older buildings.

    After Wednesday’s reactions are noted, the task force will formulate a final economic revitalization strategy.

    "It may include other things as well, such as a list of tasks each of these groups and others in town can perform to see the vision come to pass," Cailey said.

    Cameron Bailey, a city council member and a member of the task force, said he has been impressed with the project. He said he supports centering new employment-based development such as high-tech businesses in the Bickford Avenue corridor.

    "With the data we’ve collected, we’ve found that some of our assumptions about how the city should grow have proven to be right. Others have not," he said.

    "But I am convinced that the city has the ability to create the jobs that are needed to support its population and to balance that with the quality of life that brings people to Snohomish."

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