Snohomish street names to honor early residents

SNOHOMISH — Builders who create new streets in Snohomish no longer can name them.

Snohomish staff, specifically the city manager, get that privilege.

Under the new policy approved last week, new roads and those annexed into the city get assigned a numeral if they run east-to-west and a historical name if they head north-south.

Streets now within the city’s boundaries keep their names.

The city manager gets to pick street names from a pre- approved list of city’s earliest movers and shakers.

“I think this validates and values the historical nature of our city,” councilwoman Karen Guzak said.

The list includes early settlers, businessmen, journalists, Snohomish’s first mail carrier and a priest. Three Indians also made the list: Pilchuck Jack, Pilchuck Julia and Patkanam, the head chief of Snohomish and Snoqualmie tribes.

Multiple members of several prominent founding families appear including three Fergusons and three Blackmans.

The City Council also may name a street for a person historically significant to the town. To be eligible, a person must be deceased at least five years.

A committee of mainly city employees put together the list of street names.

“It wasn’t exactly scientific,” said Corbitt Loch, city planning director. “We went through history books for the city to gather names for people that seemed in our mind adequately significant.”

The list isn’t exclusive: other names can be added.

They tossed out names that already had streets named for them, such as Bickford, and those that didn’t sound right.

A more consistent street name policy should make it easier to get around town and for emergency response, Loch said.

Councilman Doug Thorndike also pointed out the new policy clears up “oddities” in Snohomish’s naming system, such as when to use “court” or “street.”

The City Council asked the city staff in May to come up with some guidelines after they were faced with what to do with 87th Avenue SE, a major road running into town the city annexed. The street didn’t match other numbered streets in town.

Until now, naming streets had been an informal process often driven by who was pouring the asphalt.

That’s how it should remain, argued R.C. “Swede” Johnson, the lone council member to vote against the proposal. “If someone wants to develop a 40-acre plot and name the street, then why shouldn’t he or she have that right?” Johnson said.

City manager Larry Bauman has already chosen a new street name: 87th Avenue SE is now Sinclair Avenue after founding settler Mary Low Sinclair.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197, dsmith@heraldnet.com.

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