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Published: Monday, January 14, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Marysville seeks to revive Ebey Slough property

City has hired four consultants to help figure out the next step for its Ebey Slough waterfront.

MARYSVILLE -- The moribund Ebey Slough waterfront in Marysville should be revived with a mix of homes, shops and recreational opportunities, city officials have determined.
What they don't know is how to turn that vision into reality.
Marysville has hired four consultants to consider the potential for the waterfront, including the former Geddes Marina property, and advise city officials on how to spark the transformation.
The consulting group is scheduled to discuss ideas with city officials at a public meeting Jan. 23.
A plan adopted by the City Council in 2009 proposes a mix of residences, retail and walking trails for the waterfront. "We want to know how to implement this as quickly as possible," city administrator Gloria Hirashima said.
Right now, other than the marina and Ebey Waterfront Park, the slough in the downtown area is lined with former industrial property that hasn't been used in years.
The city is paying a combined $34,000 for the four consultants to come up with recommendations, she said. Each consultant has a different area of expertise, Hirashima said.
They are Dave Leland of the Leland Consulting Group in Portland; Paul Sorenson of BST Associates in Kenmore; John Owen of Makers in Seattle; and Carol Mayer-Reed of Mayer/Reed in Portland.
As part of their study, they're talking to local developers about economic potential for the area, Hirashima said.
A specific question facing the city is what to do with the former Geddes Marina property.
The marina operated from 1947 to 2010 in an obscure inlet between Highway 529 and I-5. Owners Ed and Susan Geddes sold the 5-acre property to the city for $1.9 million in 2010.
Boats were moored in the inlet as far back as the late 1800s. About 30 boathouses remained at the marina at the time of the sale. Many of the structures were old and weathered, and the city has been tearing them out as the tenants' leases expire, Hirashima said. Only a few remain.
The consultants have given early indications they don't think a new marina at the location would be profitable, Hirashima said.
City Councilman Jeff Vaughan, who is also mayor pro tem, thinks a marina could work.
"I think if it's done right that's a possibility," he said.
Still, he likes the mixed-use approach.
"With the access to the water, I can see a lot of uses," such as kayak and bicycle rentals, he said.
The plan on the books envisions a walking path that would connect downtown Marysville to the Qwuloolt estuary. A project is underway to restore formerly diked-off farmland along Ebey Slough to its natural state.
On a longer-term, grander scale, the city's plan encourages redevelopment of the area currently occupied by the Marysville Town Center mall that includes J.C. Penney, Albertsons and several other businesses.
A stream aptly named Lost Creek runs underneath the mall and to Ebey Slough through a pipe, and it's hoped part or all of the creek can eventually be opened to daylight, Vaughan said.
"We want to at least look at things like that, things that make people want to get out and look around," Vaughan said. "Right now there's a lot of asphalt there."

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

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