There are several topics that concern every resident of Esperance right now, and the following is a summary of each one.

Parks – Updated 2019

Esperance has two parks that are currently subjects of debate and concern. Esperance Park, situated close to Highway 99, is located on 222nd ST but accessible from 224th ST SW, where a large parking lot is also located. The park is 9.6 acres in size, holds a soccer pitch, baseball area and volleyball courts as well as a childrens’ play area. Popular with many local residents, it’s used for dog walking and events such as the annual Esperance Night Out.

** Update **

The work in the park has still not been started (as far as the eye can tell). We were reassured during the Fall of ’18 that this was nothing to worry about since “the work can be completed over the Winter”. Nothing has changed.

Concerns

Recently, the Friends of Esperance Park and Snohomish County Parks department have worked together on proposed improvements to the park facility. These include renovating much of the parks landscape, cleaning up the wooded areas and generally making the park more attractive for local residents to utilize. Tom Teigen, Director of the Snohomish County Parks, Recreation and Tourism said:

We are implementing the plan supported by the friends of Esperance Park, neighbors and stakeholders. The large tree stand on the North-West side of the park is protected other than 4 or 5 dead trees that will be removed. A few deciduous trees along the southern and western edges of the park will be removed and new trees planted. Two large evergreen trees adjacent to the baseball backstop have been identified by a certified arborist to be diseased and will be removed for public safety reasons. The new playgrounds (small nature play are in the woods and larger play structure in the center of the park), walking paths of gravel and soft surface, fenced off-leash areas, restriped parking area and sports court will be completed.

Unfortunately, recent rumors of annexation have caused concern and uncertainty as to the future of the park. The most recent (6/7/18) meeting of the Esperance ACE committee heard that Snohomish Country planned to pass the deeds to the park over to Edmonds City Council. Further investigation is needed to verify the truth and accuracy of this statement as it is most concerning.

Chase Lake and it’s pond are situated just off 84th Street. These are important features and locals consider the areas surrounding them, parks. Previous attempts at annexation included plans to turn these areas into gravel storage areas – heavily industrialized zones – and dense urban building projects. Concerns by residents raised issues such as flooding (the loss of the flood plain to buildings would raise the flood waters much higher) and the loss of the natural wildlife habitat.

Another issue, stemming from the statewide problem of homelessness, has been the security of the area. There have been homeless people camping in the park areas, which has led to local residents, who would lock the fence barrier, being confronted. Requests by residents to Snohomish County have been made to leave the area locked and inaccessible.

228th ST SW

The introduction of traffic lights on Highway 99 and 228th seemed relatively innocuous at first, but the increase in traffic has already begun to have an impact on residents living on the street. More cars and a lack of sidewalks has made walking more dangerous and reduced the walkability of the area.

It has also been revealed that the traffic lights are just the first step in a plan formed between Snohomish County and Edmonds City to make major infrastructure changes to 228th. The proposed plan includes details to widen the street to two bike lanes, sidewalks and curbs with two lanes for traffic with a turning lane. The idea being mooted is that traffic for the Edmonds – Kingston ferry can be diverted and potentially queued should overflow capacity be needed.

The problem with this idea is that the street is not that wide and to address that, there is provision within the plan to use the grass verges currently the property of Snohomish County but also encroach upon private property by purchasing, under the rules of eminent domain, up to 10ft of additional space (yes, peoples’ front yards).

Here is the proposed map, taken from the Edmonds “Comprehensive Plan” for Transport:

As can be seen from the map above, 84th Avenue W is also earmarked for “improvement”. This is already a “drag race track” (as described by one resident), and so increasing traffic without appropriate traffic calming measures would make this even more hazardous. In terms of overall priority, the same plan rates both 228th and 84th the same in terms of rated priority:

You can find the source here: https://tinyurl.com/ycmu9bfg

Fireworks

As part of unincorporated Snohomish County, fireworks are not prohibited and over recent years, Fourth of July celebrations have been marred by non-residents coming to the area to light off fireworks, causing distress to both people and pets. When asked about the lack of police presence, deputies have explained that the homeless issue within the county is diverting patrols away from Esperance and so fireworks nuisance calls have been down prioritized.

It is already illegal to light fireworks off in Esperance parks and streets, but it is not illegal for private properties to do so. However, the issue is one of enforcement. Harry George has written a summary of the current laws and makes three immediate suggestions:

1. I’d rather do this neighbor to neighbor. First step is to just let everyone know that there is a community reaction. It was the hottest topic at the recent Esperance meeting – even annexation was less heated than fireworks. Enough is enough.

2. Ask the sponsors to meet together to resolve competitive urges – let the sponsors decide how to fix the problem.

3. If this year is as bad as last year, then we go to the county for help. Maybe some mediation. We don’t need a vigilante war. “An armed society is a polite society.”

You can find the full transcript of Harrys’ ideas here: https://tinyurl.com/yat2xa6q