By Polly Keary, Editor
The year is young but already some of the significant events that will shape it are evident. A new city administration is in place, new housing is on the way, new businesses are coming, and new levies are on the horizon.
Here is a look at what 2014 will bring to Monroe:
Walmart has already broken ground at Chain Lake Road and North Kelsey. Initially, the company had hoped to open in November, but now, according to city sources, the builders hope to open as soon as October. The Walmart planned is a Supercenter that will sell a full line of groceries as well as department store goods.
The city plans to build a new roundabout at Chain Lake Road and North Kelsey, and that is slated to open right about when Walmart does.
For many years, the city of Monroe has hoped to build a street to parallel U.S. 2 on the north, accessing the shopping centers that stretch from Fred Meyer to Safeway. Such a road, it is believed, could take 10,000 cars per day off U.S. 2, more important than ever with the imminent opening of Walmart at North Kelsey.
This year, the state granted Monroe $3.2 million toward the project, which is listed as top priority on the town’s transportation plan.
That left the town $1.2 million sort, but the funding has since been found. The Snohomish County PUD contributed $1 million, as they plan to build one of five new consolidated Snohomish County locations on a piece of property north of the Goodwill on Chain Lake Road. Walmart traffic mitigation fees took care of the rest.
Tjerne Place, which will run all the way from Tjerne’s current end near Lowe’s through to Woods Creek Road, will go out to bid for construction in the first or second quarter of the year, and is slated for completion about a year from now.
Five Guys, Discount Tire coming
The city has paid down about $16 million in debt from the purchase of the land upon which Lowe’s rests to about $4 million. That debt could get whittled further by the impending sale of two more lots at North Kelsey; one to national burger chain Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and another to Discount Tire. The city is also selling a residential parcel near Eaglemont for multi-family housing, and may also complete the sale of the old city dump land near Fred Meyer this year. So far, there are at least three parties expressing interest in the purchase, according to a city source.
Lake Tye Wake Park
The operators of the coming wake park at Lake Tye got all but one permit by Christmas, and only the building permit remains. Currently, the permit is on hold while the company, H3O, considers construction bids. Jeff Sax, until last Friday the economic development manager for the city, said that the company will likely be in for the permit this month. The park, in which water sports enthusiasts can wakeboard or water ski a loop around the lake while towed by a moving cable something like a ski lift, could open by late spring or early summer.
New signs coming
Travelers will have an easier time finding their way around the city with the addition of new way-finding signs this year. The signs will carry a “Gateway” theme, and will help people find the various amenities and districts of the city.
New park coming near prison
Cadman Aggregates is finishing the process of closing a gravel mine near the prison, and has almost completed the reclamation process. After the site is cleaned up and secured, the company plans to give it to the city for a park.
Two school levies
The school district plans two levies Feb. 11. One would replace a levy that will expire at the end of this year.
“The increases have a lot to do with the rising cost of schools and all the things we need, from books and paper and fuel and lights and heat and making sure that we are in a position to meet any new requirements the state may ask of us, as the state only provides about 70 percent of what we do here in public schools,” said school district spokesperson Rosemary O’Neil. “Every time they mandate or provide a new service, we have to come up with the remising dollars.”
In 2014, the last year of the current levy, the district will collect $16.4 million.
In the next levy, the district is asking for $15 million in 2015, with $1 million increases every year after that through 2018.
The other levy would pay just for technology.
“We haven’t had any tech funding since 2010,” said O’Neil. “The levy is going to raise about $7.5 million, at $1.25 a year for six years.”
SR 522 widening to be complete
A two-and-a-half year, $73 million project to widen SR 522 to four lanes between the Snohomish River and Monroe will be complete this fall, according to plan. The job includes four new bridges, including one across the Snohomish River. The road will be divided. The girders for the bridge over the river are in place. Nightly lane closures are currently in effect; drivers are flagged through as needed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.