The city of Arlington made strides in improving their manufacturing center and access to those types of jobs, among other improvements, in 2019.
Mayor Barbara Tolbert recently talked about the advances made and the hopes for the new year.
“On many fronts it was a good year for the city of Arlington,” said Tolbert.
“Cities always have challenges in front of them, and we’re no different in that regard,” she said, however she added a lot of progress was made.
The Cascade Industrial Center continues to receive preparation work to attract manufacturing jobs.
“The crowning achievement was the regional designation,” said Tolbert. The Puget Sound Regional Council gave the center an official manufacturing-industrial center designation that opens up the door for more federal dollars.
About a decade of work from staff went into achieving that, she said.
“We look forward to being on the next round of infrastructure funding,” said Tolbert.
This year Tolbert hopes to continue providing ways for locals to get the training for those jobs as well.
An internship program is scheduled to begin this summer for Arlington High School students.
“Kids will be able to see what kind of opportunities are available close to home,” she said.
Tolbert also wants to bring more higher education opportunities to the north county area, although those projects are still likely a ways off.
“We want to continue the discussion about the possibility of a community college in Arlington,” she said. “I want to give our young people the opportunity to be close to home and have the training available to get good jobs.”
Finally, the downtown innovation center is scheduled to open on Olympic Avenue in 2020. The center will provide a space for local entrepreneurs.
In the realm of public safety, Tolbert said additional police officers and fire department staff were hired last year in response to the city's growing population.
She said there was an 8 percent reduction in crime last year.
The city also sought the results of the first year of the Embedded Social Worker program, which partners a police officer with a social worker to reach out directly to homeless individuals.
“We’re very pleased with the first year results,” she said. “They’ve partnered with the Family Resource Center,” and contacted 588 local homeless people.
Tolbert said that program will continue this year.
The city’s police staff also saw the addition of a domestic violence coordinator who supports victims of domestic violence.
“They help them connect with services and resources,” said Tolbert.
The city’s fire department also saw expansion.
“We deepened our partnership with the North County Regional Fire Authority,” said Tolbert.
The two agencies now share three positions between them, including their medical services administrator and their community resource paramedic.
As neither Arlington Fire Department or the North County Regional Fire Authority are large enough to justify those positions at full-time, the two worked out a partnership.
Regarding transportation, the city worked on a new plan for the upcoming two decades.
“We’ve adopted a 20-year transportation improvement plan,” said Tolbert.
Those plans are often six years out, but the City Council and staff wanted to look further out.
Plans to expand the lanes on 172nd Street are also continuing in 2020.
“We’re working with [the Washington State Department of Transportation] to complete the design of expanding 172nd Street,” said Tolbert.
“I think most people don’t realize how long it takes to design a road expansion like that,” she said.
The city is receiving funds from the state legislature’s Connecting Washington package in the coming years for the project.
Finally, in 2020, Western Washington University will continue to facilitate discussions about what downtown Arlington should look like.
“I’m looking forward to the community conversations,” said Tolbert. “Everybody can say how they want the downtown to be in these discussions,” she said.