From the editor’s office: Rename the neighborhood to Highway 99? Let’s have a process for it

Highway 99 which runs south to north through Edmonds, courtesy of Google Earth. Ballinger Lake is on the right.

For the sake of transparency, I admit that this question is personal to me. The only place I have lived in Edmonds is near Hwy 99.

My husband and I bought our first starting house – a real repair house on 230th Street Southwest near 74th Avenue West – in the mid-1980s. We were two blocks from Hwy 99 and several blocks away. Ballinger Lake houses. We had rented in Seattle but couldn’t afford to buy a seat there. This opportunity to build sweat equity, literally tearing up carpets, repainting floors, repainting walls and laying sod, was grueling and satisfying. We shopped at the Country Farms Outdoor Produce Market and Can Marking Grocery store before it became a Rite Aid. We saw the Kmart become the Ranch 99 Market complex, and soon Edmonds had its own international district.

Several years later, as our two children approached their middle school years, we knew we needed more space. We were very lucky to find a house larger than we could afford near the lake – and we have lived there ever since.

Personally, I was delighted when the Town of Edmonds, led by Mayor Dave Earling, began to revitalize the Highway 99 area by developing a sub-area plan, which was approved by City Council in 2017. (This work inspired me to publish a “Transforming Highway 99” Series in 2018.) And I was just as excited when the city, under the leadership of Mayor Mike Nelson, hosted an “Uptown Market” in the city. region last summer.

Which brings me to the subject of this column.

While ‘Uptown Market’ is a catchy name and has certainly been effective in strengthening the market’s location outside of downtown Edmonds, I am now seeing more and more references – in press releases. from the city and other communications – to the Hwy 99 area like “Uptown. This raises several questions.”

First, should city officials – who may or may not live around Highway 99 – decide on the name of the neighborhood from Highway 99? Shouldn’t there be some type of process for that? Meetings, polls, or maybe even a real ballot mailed to every household in the area?

Second, what parts of Highway 99, exactly, will this area – be it “Uptown” or whatever – encompass? In previous discussions on Highway 99, the area near Sweden’s Edmonds Hospital and its related medical facilities has been referred to as the hospital district. The area near Ranch 99 Market, which includes many Asian businesses, is the International District. Confusing the waters further, the Highway 99 Corridor Study developed as part of the Subzone Plan referred to the entire Highway 99 Corridor in Edmonds as the Gateway District.

As many have noted, the needs of those living near Highway 99 have been ignored by the city for too long. Let’s make sure we have a thoughtful, in-depth, and inclusive discussion – with those who actually live there – before deciding on our neighborhood identity.

– Teresa Wippel, editor

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