The lines are drawn in the sand at Point Wells

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Map courtesy City of Shoreline
By Diane Hettrick

First it was the neighborhood of Richmond Beach, sounding the alarm about a developer who had bought the old oil company site on a large chunk of sand in Snohomish County called Point Wells. Too much traffic through our neighborhood, they said. An interest group was formed called Save Richmond Beach.

A heartbeat later, the City of Shoreline started assessing the details and decided they were not pleased about a community of several thousand Snohomish County residents whose only access was through Shoreline.

Police and Fire checked out the plans for the new community and informed the developer the new community was out of their jurisdiction and they would not be providing fire and police services.

The City, deep in the planning for the Aurora Corridor, made no provisions for modifications to the intersection of 185th and Aurora to accommodate a doubling of the traffic.

The School District, thinking they might end up serving children from the new community, pulled Sunset School off the surplussed property list and put it on the reserved list, just in case.

The City and Save Richmond Beach have been working together, exploring different legal and procedural ideas to have some control over the form of the development. They unsuccessfully petitioned Snohomish County for zoning changes and tried to annex Point Wells to Shoreline. See the article Appeal to Growth Board.

At one point the Town of Woodway was being positioned as the bad guy. Woodway is a tiny town of huge lots, expensive houses - somewhere between Innis Arden and The Highlands, and winding streets. "Why didn't the road go through Woodway," people asked? However, Woodway is at the top of the bluff, overlooking Point Wells. There had been a road at one time, but it washed out.

Woodway is no more enthusiastic about the project than anyone else. And now they have joined forces with Save Richmond Beach and Shoreline. See the notice of the joint meeting with Save Richmond Beach and the Town of Woodway Mayor.

The developer, Blue Square Real Estate, held a large, public meeting at the Shoreline Center to present their side of the story. They brought in food, had displays and friendly staff all over the large Shoreline Room, and staged presentations with video and Power Point. People were not allowed to ask questions, but instead were directed to tables with paper and pens where they were invited to write their comments.

It wasn't really an issue-driven meeting, but very much of a real estate sales presentation. They showed photos of the view from Point Wells and plans for the buildings. They talked about creating "villages" with three or four high rise building clusters, some up to 12 stories high. The villages would be somewhat self-contained, each with their own services. Last estimate was for 3,000 units. By means of comparison, that's the size of a typical Shoreline neighborhood.

Since no fire and police are available from Shoreline and the nearest Snohomish County services are in Mill Creek - Blue Square will simply build and staff their own police station and their own fire station.

The Israeli developer clearly has deep pockets with international investors. Just preparing the site is extremely expensive because of the contaminated soil, which has to be dug up and barged off, then replaced with clean soil.

I had the distinct impression from the presentation that these guys are problem-solvers and they have the money to spend on solutions.


Anonymous,  November 21, 2010 at 11:15 AM  

I have a question: if Sunset Elementary status has been changed from surplus to reserve, then why is the city and community investing so much money to convert it into a park?

Aldercrest and Cedarbook are available for the same effort, but the city has not seen fit to provide them with the same level of effort. Not only has the city not supported these two community groups in their efforts to preserve these open spaces, but they have not supported them in their effort to limit density in the same way that they have at Point Wells. In my mind this raises the issue of environmental justice, the haves and have nots, the west side of Shoreline receives more support from the city staff and city council than central and east side Shoreline when it comes to development and parks.

Anonymous,  November 21, 2010 at 1:05 PM  

Spare no expense for Richmond Beach, Innis Arden, etc.

The City knows which side its bread is buttered on. Sunset School park supporters did a lot of work. Hats off to them, but so did Friends of Aldercrest and Cedarbrook and people trying to save the Shoreline Historical Museum.

But, God help you if you are not on the same page with Shoreline School District and their "pep club". Somehow SSD obviously sees it in their interest to hold out on the Cedarbrook/Alderbrook sites and keep their foot-in-the-door on Sunset.

Its all about power and control.

But, they will "expell you" if you speak out, or go against them. So look what happened to Room Nine, North City and Sunset School supporters.
They were all kicked to the curb, because it suited SSD. They want maximum return on the dollar for their real estate. (Never mind that it was taxpayers who paid for it, over and over.)

It has nothing to do with "the children" to be sure.

Anonymous,  November 22, 2010 at 7:47 AM  

The author is in need of a local geography lesson. Woodway is some distance away from either Innis Arden and The Highlands and certainly not located between the two.

Anonymous,  November 22, 2010 at 8:52 AM  

FYI, the author seems to be referring to how pricey the homes are and how large the lots are when describing Woodway as "somewhere between" the Highlands and Innis Arden.

Anonymous,  November 22, 2010 at 10:17 AM  

Shoreline gets all the problems: more traffic; increased density; big, multi-story buildings that don't fit with the neighborhood, but no say in the development. All these people have drive through Richmond Beach but are not part of our community. Go figure. These people will be resented.

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