What to do for Stilly Valley and who can do it

Clearly, thankfully, the Stillaguamish Valley and its communities from Darrington to Arlington have not been forgotten in the months following the March 22, 2014, Oso landslide that killed 43 people, destroyed 36 homes, obliterated Highway 530 and caused economic hardships throughout the valley.

Along with the immediate local, state and national response to the disaster and the rebuilding of Highway 530 by the state, work has been ongoing to strengthen disaster response and planning, such as that outlined by the SR 530 Landslide Commission, and foster the valley’s economic recovery as was seen earlier this year with several projects in Arlington and Darrington funded by the Legislature in its capital budget, including about $3.5 million for the Stilly Valley Youth Project, which will renovate the Boys &Girls Club in Arlington and build a skate park in Darrington, among other projects.

Likewise, a recent Federal Emergency Management Agency grant will allow Snohomish County to offer buyouts to all property owners directly affected by the landslide.

More is yet to come. And much of it is now well outlined in the recently released North Stillaguamish Valley Economic Redevelopment Plan, as was reported last week by Herald Writer Kari Bray.

The redevelopment plan, shepherded by Economic Alliance Snohomish County through a $150,000 federal grant and $50,000 from state and local partners, was assembled following public forums, surveys of local businesses and interviews with environmental agencies and review of existing plans and reports.

The resulting 150-page report includes assessments of the local and regional economy and population trends and a detailed list of suggested projects and strategies for the north Stilly Valley, addressing transportation, business development, tourism, recreation, housing, education and more. More than just a list of good ideas, the plan also identifies those governments, agencies and organizations that should take the lead for each action, a general comparison of cost and whether each should be viewed as short-term, long-term or as an ongoing project.

In identifying those who can take the lead, the recommendations fight the tendency for reports, like objects at rest, to remain on the shelf.

As an example, the report recommends that:

The U.S. Forest Service and community interest groups work to complete the paving of the Mountain Loop Highway, 13 miles of which, between Darrington and Granite Falls, remains unpaved and prone to flood damage.

Community Transit and the state Department of Transportation provide more shuttle and vanpool service, improve transit service and increase park-and-ride capacity.

Snohomish County Parks fund the repair of bridges and washed-out sections of the Whitehorse Trail, the hiking, bicycle and equestrian trail between Arlington and Darrington.

Frontier Communications improve high-speed Internet access.

The state Department of Commerce and Puget Sound Regional Council work to designate a Manufacturing/Industrial Center in the Arlington, Marysville area, strengthening what has become the county’s second-largest manufacturing area next to Everett’s Paine Field.

Workforce Snohomish and Everett and Edmonds community colleges work to increase access to their industrial training and degree programs.

These and scores of other strategies in the report are exciting goals for north Snohomish County, not only for what they can accomplish in rebuilding and revitalizing the region but because they are achieveable.

Read the plan

A pdf version of the North Stillaguamish Valley Economic Redevelopment Plan is available at Economic Alliance Snohomish County’s website at https://www.economicalliancesc.org/ nstillyvalleyerp/.

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