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

Tolbert discusses Arlington's plans for 2018


January 3, 2018 | View PDF

When looking forward to the issues that the city will be addressing in 2018, Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert said the planned Marysville-Arlington Manufacturing Industrial Center continues to have the potential to create a lot of local jobs.

Local officials have planned for industry to come to the area around Smokey Point.

The Puget Sound Regional Council has the power to designate the area a Manufacturing-Industrial Center which would improve Marysville and Arlington’s ability to fund the area’s infrastructure.

“It allows us to acquire funding from sources that we haven’t been able to acquire funding from to put the infrastructure in,” said Tolbert.

Tolbert thinks the land has a good shot of receiving the label.

“I feel really good about the chances of the Manufacturing-Industrial Center being given a regional designation,” she said.

The area around Smokey Point is largely empty, which is a big advantage for it as there is a growing need for industrial land.

“It has become clear there are not big areas of industrial land that are left open, so this is a pretty unique opportunity,” said Tolbert.

Both Marysville and Arlington received grants last year that will help them master plan the area together.

“This is the first time I can remember that two cities are working together to do the planning to make sure the roads run straight through and everything connects,” said Tolbert.

As Arlington continues to grow it will be important for the city to attract family-wage jobs, she said.

“We want to keep family-wage jobs here and keep people off of the I-5 corridor and out of the those two-hour commutes, which will create a better family life as well,” she said.

The strong economy of the Pacific Northwest is also creating a shortage of affordable housing, one of the biggest challenges for the city, said Tolbert.

“The housing is rising at a rapid rate so people on fixed incomes are not taking a booming economy as that cheery of a message as they try to make ends meet,” she said.

Along with positive economic times, Tolbert wants to remember down times can happen as well and be prepared.

“One of the things that we’ve been working on with all of our management is to make sure that our long-term strategic financial plans are more solid and adaptable than they have been in the past,” she said.

The 2008 recession was “very difficult on the city,” said Tolbert.

“We didn’t anticipate that the recession could last that long,” she said. “I think the lessons of the last recession won’t go away for a lot of people.”

In addition to city sustainability, Arlington officials will be working on sustainability issues for their fire department.

Although talks with Marysville to form a Regional Ire Authority seem to have broken down, the city still hopes to find a solid funding source.

“The city is very committed to having the best service possible,” said Tolbert.

“But we’re also very realistic in how the tax base for the EMS levy has been capped by the state for many years and is now keeping up with increasing cost and demand,” she said.

The city also hopes to continue rebuilding the economy of the Stillaguamish Valley.

After the 2014 Oso mudslide, Arlington officials worked on the North Stillaguamish Economic Redevelopment Plan to form a set of goals for the valley.

That project dovetailed into the America’s Best Communities competition, in which Arlington and Darrington were a semi-finalist.

Even though the contest ended for Arlington, locals are continuing with those initiatives and goals.

“We’re really helping to scale up those initiatives that we were doing through ABC [America’s Best Communities],” said Tolbert.

Longtime city employee Sarah Lopez was appointed as the Community Revitalization Project Manager recently to facilitate those goals.

One of the goals that could be happening in 2018 is the creation of an “innovation lab” that provides entrepreneurs a variety of industrial tools for their projects.

A downtown property has already been purchased for the project.

Similar labs are planned to open at Everett Community College and in Everett as well, said Tolbert.

“There will be this synergy of programs where innovators and entrepreneurs will be able to move their ideas forward,” she said.

Public safety is another big priority for the city, said Tolbert.

“Making progress around our public safety issue will be one of our biggest challenges,” she said.

She hopes to work more with the county and Marysville in the upcoming year to partner on crime issues.

Marysville and Arlington already started a joint Smokey Point Business Committee which met for the first time in April.

“Already I’ve seen one business that came back from that meeting and made some immediate changes,” said Tolbert.

The program Tolbert is most excited about for public safety is the embedded social worker program though in which social workers will partner with police.

The idea is that when officers interact with homeless individuals they will have a social worker who can provide immediate assistance to those homeless people who want help.

“I’m really excited about that program, not just for the help it will give us in reclaiming that business corridor and ensuring that our citizens feel safe … but also that we will be offering real help,” said Tolbert. “We’re giving them the pathway to change their lives.”

Tolbert hopes the city will have someone hired by mid-February and that they will be ready to go by the beginning of March.

“We’re hoping to move 100 people into detox in the first year, and I hope we blow that goal out of the water,” she said.


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