Mill Creek's future

By Michael Scherping

I just moved here and am coming up on my 1st anniversary as a Mill Creek resident, but I've always loved Mill Creek. Ever since I discovered Village Green Drive during one of many joy-rides as a teenager, I fell in love with what I saw as the postcard of the Pacific Northwest (coming from Kansas) and made it my destiny to live here one day. And now I have. I had to step outside my comfort level and fight to get in because it was always just outside of my reach. I eventually had to resort to going door-to-door and buying a home that wasn't on the market (too competitive these days) just so that I can raise my family where I always wanted to. A place where there were trees to climb and decent yards with excellent neighbors and schools and where you weren't inclined to just stay indoors because there was nothing outdoors of any interest - like all the new developments seem to be keen on establishing. A place where people cared as much as I do about pride of ownership.

Someday, I hope to be more involved in the development of Mill Creek because I think it's a place where kids can be kids and adults can have fun. For me, it's a nostalgic place that captures all that was good about the past, but still dreams of the future. There is an opportunity Mill Creek has as a young city. We can learn from mistakes other cities have made with development and look to cities we admire for inspiration. I envision us evolving into an even more desirable place as the City of Everett eventually booms. Over there, Universities, Marketplaces, Hotels, and Waterfront Attractions are taking shape and one day, a major upstart will likely be captivated and call Everett Home. This will probably occur AFTER the light rail has made its way that far. This can all help Mill Creek.

As the concrete jungle starts to take shape around us, our identity will remain (hopefully) as one that is quaint, with a preserved natural NW Landscape where we don't mow down ALL the trees, but rather build around as many as we can to maintain mature shade. We'll have something no other city can offer one day when the trees are even larger. But much that surrounds Mill Creek's tightly knit community is out of our control right now it would appear. It doesn't have to be. We can preserve a larger swath of land if we truly wanted to.

Without having annexed all that we could long ago to grow tax revenues and keep sales tax down for all of us - or even maximize the space that we have as there are an abundance of one-story commercial buildings where it would make more sense to build UP - our growth has been stunted. It's inevitable that we grow and eventually stretch all the way out to the farthest boundaries of our MUGA (Municiple Urban Growth Area), which is already predetermined. But why is this taking so long? Usable land therein is being gobbled up by greedy developers who don't share Mill Creek's vision of preserved open space and nature. The landscape is being obliterated and buildings are being built in crowds of cadywompous pockets. Pretty soon, it won't look like Mill Creek but rather more like an extension of the mishmashed disaster that is South Everett.

Identity is important to a city in my opinion. It defines the culture and paints a picture for those who travel through and decide to call it home. This picture tells a subliminal story of what is acceptable in and around the city and what is clearly not. A City with an identity crisis is usually one with more crime because the impression is that nobody cares and I can do what I want. For those who desire that mentality, there is Everett, more specifically Casino Road. When there's too much freedom for developers to build whatever they want facing whatever direction with whatever materials without a care as to who the neighbors are because short-term profit is better than long-term prosperity for the community and property values, we can attract the same kind of careless people who may not value preservation of nature. Preservation of concrete walls without graffiti, preservation of our parks and playground equipment. Or just share the simple mentality of utilizing crosswalks, abiding laws and respecting everyone's safety. People of all walks of life should always be welcome, but who would you want as your neighbor?

Mill Creek is the land of opportunity in my eyes. The Light Rail will eventually put us just 25 minutes from Seattle and less to Downtown Everett which will most certainly be something someday. The Waterfront is close by and so too are Mountains and Rivers. But what do you want to come home to? Share your thoughts on how you'd like to see it shape up and to what extent it should grow or how. What's missing? What can go? What can we do?