Marysville residents and businesses had a challenging year in 2020 and the city hopes to strengthen recovery through 2021.
Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring talked about the challenges of 2020 and what to expect going forward as the city plans for the new year.
“It’s probably no surprise but COVID was definitely the biggest challenge of getting our city business done,” said Nehring.
Many of the city’s programs were delayed or paused for the year.
“We pretty much cut out all non-essential programs and services but we kept going on with our big projects,” said Nehring.
The biggest construction projects continued for the city, including the First Street bypass, the expansion of State Avenue from 100th Street to 104th Street and the new Civic Campus.
“Those were already funded and we didn’t want those to fall behind schedule,” said Nehring.
Project delays could mean increased costs as construction prices tend to rise, so the city did not want to pause them, he said.
The First Street bypass, which extends First Street and provides a major east-west route for downtown Marysville, was completed this year.
The expansion of State Avenue and the new Civic Campus, which would provide a main administrative building for the city, continue construction.
Those projects are currently on budget and on schedule, said Nehring.
In the Sunnyside neighborhood, Olympic View Park continues construction as well, and is expected to be finished in the next two to three months.
For the city the biggest project was COVID response throughout the year.
“We were really quick out of the chute in early March to put safety protocols in with our workforce to allow our business to continue,” said Nehring.
Using federal funds the city also began the distribution of money to businesses and funding rent and mortgage relief programs as well.
“We tried to be proactive with communicating with the community about what we were doing and what has been going on. Obviously, it was bigger than Marysville as you have a lot of decisions being made at the state and national level,” said Nehring.
Nehring said he has worked to advocate on behalf of businesses.
“I think local businesses throughout the county have done a really great job putting safety measures in place,” he said. “I don’t see data coming my way that shows that the business community is the source of outbreaks."
With continuing safety measures and a vaccine now available, Nehring said he believes the pandemic will begin to “turn the corner.”
“As we progress throughout the year things will finally start to progress to slowly returning to some level of normalcy,” he said.
He said he plans to continue lobbying for that return as it is safe to do so.
“We are looking forward to re-establishing the many programs that the city offers to what degree that we can this year,” said Nehring.
The city also hopes to advance some other projects this year, including connecting Bayview Trail to Centennial Trail.
“That will be an exciting new addition,” said Nehring.
That project could begin this summer and be completed by the fall.
The city of Marysville has received a state grant to expand the final narrow section of State Avenue to five lanes.
City staff still have to acquire property so it may be a couple of years before that project begins construction, but Nehring said city staff are working on it.
The Cascade Industrial Center is still a focus for the city, said Nehring.
“We’ll try to recruit good paying jobs to that area. The pandemic in 2020 inhibited some of the businesses that were looking to come in,” he said.
“We hope to see a renewed emphasis on that,” he said.
Finally, Nehring said he hopes to expand the embedded social worker program, which pairs police officers with social workers to reach out to homeless individuals.
Specifically, the city is looking at ways to improve support for homeless individuals with mental health issues.
“That program has gotten very busy so we want to look at ways to enhance that. We want to help people who may not have drug abuse problems but are dealing with mental health problems, which is a gap in our program right now,” said Nehring.
Since the program began a couple of years ago it has helped more than 200 locals get into recovery, said Nehring.
Nehring said the city will still need to support pandemic recovery as they move into 2021.
“I think I am, like everybody else, glad to see 2020 in the rearview mirror. We just want to stand ready to help residents and businesses get through this safely,” he said.
Nehring plans to hold this year’s State of the City virtually on Jan. 21. He is also scheduling a live question and answer for after the speech as well.