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

Nehring gives State of the City

 

January 31, 2018 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring gives his State of the City address on Jan. 26 at the Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce's Business Before Hours meeting.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring talked about the current state of the city's public safety initiatives, economy and recreation opportunities during his State of the City on Jan. 26.

Nehring was happy with the strengthening economy and the growth of the city in the last couple of years.

"I remember back in 2010 and 2011 going around talking to businesses and door-belling [campaigning door-to-door] and that was a very different time for the city," said Nehring. "People were trying to navigate through difficult financial times and keep their businesses alive and keep their houses."

Currently, many of those troubles are behind the city and the region now.

"As I drive around now in this community and there is construction and road work, and we're able to hire more police officers ... we're in a situation right now where our economy is robust," he said.

"There are challenges in the economy still, but I'm thankful we're out of the teeth of what was a difficult time for a lot of people," said Nehring.

Many businesses opened last year in the city and more will be coming in 2018, said Nehring, including three planned hotels, a number of new restaurants and a few car dealerships.

"Obviously this is a community that business wants to come to and we're excited about all the new businesses," said Nehring.

City officials hope they can develop the Manufacturing-Industrial Center with more businesses and infrastructure as well.

"This is 4,000-plus acres of available land in north Marysville/south Arlington," said Nehring. "We've already attracted some businesses and we look forward to more."

The city has also helped create a video to advertise the best aspects of the city to businesses considering the region.

"We will be putting together some more material to tell the story of Marysville and why it is an attractive space for a business," said Nehring.

The city also received an AA2 bond rating, the third highest rating.

"What that means is that the money we pay on debt, the interest is less for all of us, so our tax dollars are stretched farther," said Nehring.

With growth also comes the need for more transportation projects, which Nehring said the city is working on.

Over the next decade Marysville has more than $160 million of state funds coming into the community for transportation infrastructure.

"That is unprecedented and speaks highly of how people see the Marysville/Tulalip area," said Nehring.

The soonest scheduled project is a connection for those leaving I-5 who want to get onto SR-529 in downtown Marysville, a project that would allow highway travelers to avoid the train tracks and still enter the city.

To help with that project the city hopes to design a First Street bypass to help commuters travel east.

"When that on-and-off ramp happens on SR-529 we don't want everyone converging on Fourth Street," said Nehring.

Other projects include design work for State Avenue from 100th Street to 116th Street to be expanded to five lanes, and design work for a Grove Street overpass that would go over the train tracks.

"I always get asked 'well, why not Fourth Street or 80th Street,' for an overpass," said Nehring. Those spots have problems that would significantly increase the cost of the project to "well over $100 million," said Nehring.

A Grove Street overpass would likely cost less at $24 million, but would still make for an expensive project, said Nehring.

"What we're doing is we're going to start teeing this up at the state level and that often takes several years," he said.

Public safety remains one of the top priorities for the city, said Nehring.

"We have really gotten after it in recent years to try and drive down crime," he said.

The crime stats over the last three years have gone down in the city, he said.

They have decreased 8 percent from 2016, 15 percent from 2015 and 23 percent from 2014.

"Which is not to say that things are perfect or that we couldn't do more," said Nehring.

One of the ways the city is prioritizing public safety is by hiring more police officers for the department.

"We've seen some increasing challenges because of drugs and the opioid epidemic, and that causes the majority of our crime," said Nehring.

"One thing we can't do is ask them to do more without beefing up their police force," he said.

The city is also partnering with neighbors to try to collaboratively address the problem. "We share these concerns with Arlington and Everett and Tulalip," he said.

In the Smokey Point area both Arlington and Marysville have been campaigning to reduce the number of those who give money to panhandlers by providing resource and informational flyers.

Nehring said that not all panhandlers spend their money on drugs, but many do.

"I don't want to paint everyone with a broad brush, but let's ensure the money goes to food, shelter and clothing, and the only way to do that is by giving to organizations," he said.

Another collaboration between the two cities is the Smokey Point Business Committee.

About 40 to 50 businesses attended the last meeting, said Nehring, to learn about what the cities are doing and what they can do to support a solution for the problems of the area.

"It was great because businesses are starting to catch this vision," said Nehring.

Both Arlington and Marysville are also involved in an embedded social worker program with Snohomish County that they hope to begin this year.

Social workers will work with police officers and "try to form relationships with individuals that are facing substance abuse issues," said Nehring.

"It may not happen on the first time, but the idea is to say 'hey, we can help get you out of this situation,'" he said.

A total of 15,000 calls were received by the Marysville Fire District last year, which had a 6.5 minute response time on average.

Marysville contracts out their fire services to the district, which is not a part of the city.

City officials have been looking at forming a Regional Fire Authority with Fire District 12, which would be a new entity governed by representatives from the district and the city.

"What we're trying to do is get stable funding," said Nehring.

Any official merging of the entities into a Regional Fire Authority would have to be voted on by the residents of the city and the district first.

For recreation, the city has recently purchased the Marysville Opera House, which they have previously been leasing, said Nehring.

"Originally we leased it for about three years to see how things would go," he said. "We did just purchase the Opera House and we're really excited about that so we'll be able to preserve this as a community asset for the future."

There were 138 concerts, speakers and other events held at the downtown building last year and Nehring said there are currently more scheduled for 2018.

Work will also begin for the Bayview Trail to be connected to the Centennial Trail this year.

"If you've enjoyed Bayview like I have, either jogging or walking, you'll enjoy the connection to the Centennial trail," said Nehring.

Phase Two of the Ebey Waterfront Trail is also scheduled for 2018, the second of three parts of the trail the city hopes to complete.

"We will be asking for the legislature to help us with Phase Three in 2019," said Nehring.

At the end of that trail lies the Ebey Waterfront Park, which will also be getting continued attention.

"We'll look to develop some type of private/public partnership so that the community can continue to access the waterfront on both sides of the bridge," said Nehring.

Nehring plans to deliver his State of the City address a second time on Feb. 22 at the Marysville Opera House, 1225 Third Street, Marysville, at 6:30 p.m.

 

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