Mukilteo City Council: No to road in Japanese Gulch

Mukilteo City Council has asked the city to remove all references to a road through Japanese Gulch from the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

The council voted 6-1 to direct city staff to take necessary action to remove all references to an alternate ferry access road through the Japanese Gulch from its 20-year plan. Councilmember Kevin Stoltz made the motion.

As is policy, the request will go to the city’s Planning Commission to be studied further. If the commission recommends an amendment to remove the road from the city’s plans for future development, it will go back to the council for adoption.

The road through the gulch was in the Comprehensive Plan as an alternative for providing access to the ferry terminal if and when the terminal is moved. References to the Mukilteo Speedway, the city’s only road to the ferry, are to remain in the plan.

“Leaving references to roads through the gulch is contrary to other city policies and directions, which is to acquire land in Japanese Gulch to keep it as parks and open space to protect the environment,” City Council President Richard Emery said.

Emery said the city needs to focus on managing ferry traffic congestion through other alternatives, and that removing references to the road will help with that focus.

“I also believe that for purposes for focusing on transportation management concepts with Washington State Ferries and other transit providers, that if there’s a road in the back of our minds, we will find it harder to focus on providing transit options,” he said.

“We’ll be thinking somewhere we’ll just build a road and it will be better. We haven’t been able to pave our way out of congestion anywhere else; I don’t know why we think we could do it here.”

Stoltz’s motion also asks that the city expedite discussions with the city of Everett to de-annex more than 20 acres of the gulch into Mukilteo.

Everett agreed to de-annex the land to Mukilteo, which was recently purchased by the city, as long as it is kept as parks and open space – without a road.

A road through Japanese Gulch would pass through Everett’s city limits.

Councilmember Emily Vanderwielen was against requesting that city staff study the removal of the road from the plan until more of the gulch is acquired.

“We have some major priorities facing our city staff that take a large amount of time,” Vanderwielen said. “Let’s work through the major priorities now, and then we can take it one step at a time.”

Todd Hooper and Sabrina Bolieu of the Japanese Gulch Group, which aims to save the gulch for parks and open space, said the group supported the council’s motion.

“The gulch group is excited that [the council is asking that] the roads are removed from both Mukilteo and Everett,” Hooper said.

The Planning Commission annually reviews the Comprehensive Plan and makes recommendations to the mayor and council.

The commission also researches land use and other related issues upon request of the mayor and council.

The city, in partnership with Washington state, is seeking to acquire all 140 acres of undeveloped land in Japanese Gulch and preserve it as parks and open space.

Mukilteo purchased 8 acres of the gulch in 2009 from Precht Trust and another 17 acres from Washington Services in 2010 – lots that are on the Mukilteo-Everett border.

About 98 percent of that land is in Everett, Hooper said.

Good news!

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