Paine Field plan needs input

For 18 months, Paine Field’s county airport management has planned for the first step in a large commercial development that would ultimately utilize most of the 80 acres of forest along Highway 525, which separates Mukilteo from airport properties.

This first step is substantial — develop 12 acres of wooded land just east of the intersection of Harbour Pointe Blvd. N. and the Mukilteo Speedway as a Fifth Shopping Center to serve Mukilteo’s small population of 17,500 people. This complex is to be anchored by "the Largest Safeway Super Store in North America!!"

The purpose is to provide money for airport operations and future development.

Only six weeks ago, citizen’s discovered that this plan was to be immediately implemented. Many found the project and its process so disturbing that they reactivated a community advocacy committee — Citizens Active for Mukilteo’s Preservation. Two weeks ago, CAMP created a petition opposing this commercial development on public lands and obtained over 300 signatures in just six hours!

Citizens know that Mukilteo does not need a fifth grocery store, with its attendant strip shops and over-the-top traffic congestion. This community does need a thin green line of native growth forest to preserve some small sanctity for our community. We also need a noise buffer and a visual barricade from the airport.

The county’s ill-conceived, low- profile project has the seemingly permanent imprimatur of County Executive Bob Drewel and is therefore on an automatic-pilot-process-to approval by the county council.

Because of the recent public outcry, our county council instructed Dave Waggoner, airport manager, to hold two public forums on the issue. The first hastily called event was not public; the second was not a forum but an exhibit of airport plan mock-ups. Of everyone in county government leadership, only Kirke Sievers attended either event, despite several community pleas for maximum public officials’ input.

The county’s operations subcommittee, as chaired by council member Rick Larsen, has just moved the issue to the full county council for approval.

The decision is scheduled for Oct. 25. County council chair Barbara Cothern has rejected repeated requests for an evening meeting, when the public can attend, and instead insists on a 9 a.m. start time.

Because of the vital importance of this issue to Mukilteo’s well-being, I urge all citizens to attend the council meeting on Oct. 25 at 9 a.m. on the sixth floor of the county council building at Pacific and Rockefeller in Everett. The meeting is open to public attendance and, by report, reasonable time will be available for citizen commentary.

Let council officials understand your wishes. Stop this construction in its tracks. Insist on opportunity to create alternatives that preserve our community’s integrity while providing for Paine Field’s legitimate future needs.

As I asked Mr. Sievers recently, "Why would any responsible public official vote for services that a community does not need and does not want?"

It’s that simple.

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