North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Mayor Nehring hosts coffee klatch

 

August 23, 2017 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring answers community questions at a coffee klatch on Aug. 17.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring responded to concerns over public safety and Marysville's growth at a recent coffee klatch with Marysville residents on Aug. 17.

The City of Marysville holds coffee klatches every couple of months to connect the public to city officials and administration, and allow conversation between them.

Many of the common concerns over opioid addiction and homelessness are problems that are being dealt with in many communities across the country, Nehring said.

"This is the national narrative right now," he said. "Most every community you go to right now, this is what people are talking about - heroin, opioids, drug houses, loitering."

Cities alone don't have the resources to build the infrastructure to solve a mental health crisis of that proportion, he said.

"This has been born of several years of lack of attention to what's been going on with drugs and mental health," said Nehring.

Some community members expressed concerns over police staffing and the amount of funds the city is dedicating toward their police department.

Nehring said that two thirds of the city's general fund budget goes to public safety.

"With that being said, we need to spend even more," he said. "My directive right now is to keep hiring."

The city is actually having trouble filling it's budgeted spots though.

"We have open positions already budgeted for," said Nehring. "It isn't so much that we're not budgeting, it's that we can't fill quickly enough."

This is a common problem across the Puget Sound as the economy has improved and unemployment has dropped in Washington state.

"It's very difficult to get qualified people to fill these positions," said Nehring.

Kevin Nielsen, Marysville's Public Works director, mentioned that many of the road projects people see around town aren't from money coming out of the general fund.

"A lot of the things you see taking place in Marysville are being funded elsewhere," he said, from sources like grants specifically meant for transportation or funds from the Marysville Transportation Benefit District which can't be spent on public safety measures.

Some community members also worried about the city's growing trail system and how homeless individuals are living near them.

"Anytime you improve your parks it's going to bring desirable and undesirable people to those areas," said Police Chief Rick Smith.

"This is an effort that the city is holistically trying to address," he said.

Marysville's Parks, Culture and Recreation Director Jim Ballew said that the city's trails haven't seen any violence against citizens on them.

"We've not had any crime against a person on our trails," he said.

"One of the largest concerns when you're building a trail along people's homes is 'there's going to be crime, they're going to be looking into my windows,' but we haven't experienced that," he said.

Community members also worried about the increasing amount of apartments and multi-family residential units coming to Marysville.

"We didn't have a new multi-family unit in this city for more than a decade, and now they're popping up," said Nehring.

"We have to remember that part of that is the free market, that's supply and demand," he said. "It wasn't because we went out and recruited it, it was because the market changed."

As living costs increase to the south in King County and south Snohomish County, more people are choosing to live in areas like Marysville, he said, and apartments are becoming profitable in the region.

"The market drives people up here, and before you know it you have all this housing," he said.

Growth has also brought some positives to the county, said Nehring, such as "the opening of the Washington State University campus five minutes from Marysville City Hall," he said.

"Now anyone can just jet across the freeway while they're working a job and get a four-year degree right in Everett," he said.

More information about the coffee klatches is available on the city's website at marysvillewa.gov.

 

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