Strategic planning creates vision for Mill Creek

Tourism remains at the heart of economic prosperity
By Dan Aznoff | Apr 05, 2018

The Mill Creek City Council wrapped up a series of strategic planning sessions with one last evening dedicated to establishing long-term priorities for the city over the next decade.

The session held during the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, April 3, wrapped up weeks of brain-storming and wishful thinking by councilmembers.

Now the real world begins.

City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto thanked councilmembers for their concepts for Mill Creek’s future, promising to return a synopsis of the ideas at the next council meeting that can be used for making decisions that could impact the financial health of the city, as well as the quality of life for its residents.

“We cannot be afraid to take the lead when it comes to planning,” Polizzotto said. “Being a leader does not mean change. New ideas can be used to preserve the quality of life residents of Mill Creek have come to expect.”

Mayor Pro Tem Brian Holtzclaw told his colleagues they will need to be creative to preserve the quality of life residents of Mill Creek have come to expect. He used the opportunity to re-introduce the idea of establishing a series of bike trails that a previous council had rejected more than a decade ago.

The lack of undeveloped parcels in the city means there is no question that the council needs to explore new ways to raise revenue, according to Councilmember John Steckler.

“We have relied on one-time development fees for too long,” Steckler said. “We need to do what’s right to protect what we have.”

The city manager agreed, pointing out the initial reluctance to provide passport services at City Hall. Passport services now generate more than $1 million in revenue for the city every two years.

The long-term strategy session concluded with agreement among councilmembers that the city should refine its current policy on annexation to add additional sites for commercial development.

Destination of Choice

At the last council meeting of March, councilmembers shared ideas to establish revenue streams that could be used to maintain the quality of life in established neighborhoods while providing economic opportunities for new business.

Establishing Mill Creek as a “destination of choice” was the theme councilmembers used in support of Polizzotto’s plan to expand tourism as a low-impact means of increasing revenue.

Mayor Pam Pruitt reminded her colleagues that Mill Creek was established as a bedroom community when it incorporated more than three decades ago.

“We do not want to change the character of Mill Creek,” Pruitt said.

Councilmember Vince Cavaleri said the city’s distance from freeways does not make it appropriate for construction of a city-sponsored convention or conference center.

“We’re not in a position to compete with established gathering places in Lynnwood or Everett,” Cavaleri said. He emphasized that the city should maximize its unique location as a hub for specialty shopping and dining.

Praise for the city’s base was not unanimous. Some councilmembers bemoaned the lack of large employers has left the city dependent on sales tax revenue from retail merchants. The bedroom community leaves many restaurants and bars empty during much of the day.

“The restaurants in Town Center cannot survive when mid-day business consists of an occasional group of friends meeting for lunch,” said one councilmember. “The largest employer in town is the city of Mill Creek. And there are only 50 employees in City Hall.”

Holtzclaw summed up the evening by explaining that the city should not be forced to attract “outsiders” to preserve the attractive neighborhoods of Mill Creek.

Holtzclaw summed up the evening by explaining that the city should not be forced to attract “outsiders” to preserve the attractive neighborhoods of Mill Creek.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Michael Scherping | Apr 07, 2018 19:00

Annex up to Larch. Build a Convention Center across from the Martha Lake with a walkway overpass. The wasted space by Hot Shots can be where the overpass stairs escalate and incorporate some form of Art or water feature to greet visitors. The Convention Center can be a taller building where that Market currently resides - perhaps giving them a deal to occupy retail on the ground floor or someplace new built to suit really close by.

Posted by: Michael Scherping | Apr 07, 2018 19:06

If we’re not still in a war with Lynnwood over who gets the space between Larch and I-5, then annex all the way up to I-5. That will get you Crane Aerospace and Walmart and tons more development opportunities. Lynnwood Schools have Maple Ave as an arterial for their Bus Drivers to use. The space where the Wells Fargo is (and the empty lot by it) just before Bowlero would be a perfect spot for a mid rise or Convention Center - and would likely capture amazing views. The building could serve as a sort of trophy for Mill Creek too since it could potentially be seen from the freeway!

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