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Commuters may get new place to park

A longtime Mukilteo resident and developer proposes to ride to the rescue of beleaguered Whidbey Island commuters.

Duane Parrish wants to build a 300-car overnight parking facility in Mukilteo to be used primarily by Whidbey residents who keep vehicles on both sides of the water to avoid ferry lines.

“This is something the Whidbey Island commuters need,” Parrish said this past week. “It’s an ideal situation.”

He plans a permanent parking lot on about three acres he owns next to Mukilteo Speedway less than a half mile from the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal.

Parrish said he has completed a feasibility study for the project, and is ready to seek permits and go out to bid.

“Timing is of the essence,” he said. “If we want this thing to open by fall, a lot of things have to happen fairly fast.”

Parrish has offered to lease the parking lot to the city of Mukilteo. City officials are studying the proposal and expect to make a decision soon, Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine said.

“We think it’s a viable solution to the parking problem,” Marine said. “But does the city want to be in the parking business?”

Parrish said if Mukilteo turns down a lease, he will build the project himself, but he would need some concessions from the city.

“The ball’s in their court,” Parrish said.

He said he expects little opposition to the lighted parking lot from neighbors in the area. He said the property is bordered by two ravines, and is visible from only three or four houses.

Parrish said there’s a Community Transit bus stop next to the property. “You can jump off the bus and be at your car in

30 seconds,” he said.

Parrish estimates that construction of the parking lot, a drainage system, lighting and landscaping will push the cost of the project “into seven figures.”

He said he can complete the project in less than four months, perhaps as early as late summer, if all goes smoothly. He said parking rates at the new lot would remain about the same as commuters are currently paying, somewhere around $100 a month.

Parrish is distributing flyers to commuters to determine interest. He said he will compile a list of potential customers, and that parking spaces would be granted on a first-come, first-served basis.

“I need at least a couple hundred of them to make this thing work.” he said. “If there are 300, I can accommodate them.”

Parrish, 50, has lived in Mukilteo for 30 years, during which he has developed several properties and businesses. He said he sold his fiber-optics business and retired about 10 years ago.

“It’s about the only location left in Mukilteo that makes any sense at all,” he said of his proposed parking lot.

Island commuters have watched with trepidation as more and more overnight parking spaces on the other side of the water have disappeared.

Residents who use the two-vehicle strategy do so to cut down on the length of their commutes, which can add hours to their workday. Some indicated last spring, when the city’s plans were revealed, that they may be forced to move from the island.

The demolition of the old Buzz Inn to make room for 12 additional ferry holding lanes in downtown Mukilteo wiped out about 18 overnight parking spaces.

Two overnight Diamond parking lots near the Mukilteo Lighthouse that are being leased by island owners of about

170 vehicles will be taken over by the city this spring. The city is developing the surrounding park and will reserve the remaining parking spaces for visitors.

An additional 100 leased overnight Diamond parking spaces at the Rosehill Community Center disappeared this past summer to make way for a new building.

Marine said commuter parking during the winter has been adequate, but that the crunch comes during the summer, when visitors and beachgoers arrive.

He said overnight parking may be permitted on school property up the hill this summer until a permanent solution can be found.

Marine, who was greeted with angry responses last spring when he said that it wasn’t Mukilteo’s responsibility to provide parking for Whidbey commuters, has kept the discussion upbeat this time around.

“Personally, I’d like to get the city out of the parking business,” the mayor said. “But that’s up to the city council to decide.”

For more information about Parrish’s proposal, e-mail mukil

teoparking@comcast.net or call 425-315-2876.

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