September 9, 2002
Brightwater is like a bad movie
Brightwater is like a movie I saw in Texas in the late 1970s. It wasn't a movie you'd want to see back then, and it is depressing to see it now showing in Snohomish County. In that movie, local people had not seen what was coming and allowed the J.R. Ewing types to take over local government and use it as a private bank, just like a plot from an even older western, to bring in the really big wheeler dealer subdivision developers and land speculators.
What is really amazing is the same slogan, "Growth will pay for growth" is being used by Ron Sims to sell Brightwater.
The swings back and forth on the Snohomish County Council are also part of this movie plot. It is difficult to communicate about something that is a little complicated, especially when people who can afford to put their message out the best are funded for a reason.
But here is the dangerous question: Growth did not pay for itself in Texas or anywhere else this has happened. The reason: With the approximate 900,000 new residents that Brightwater is supposed to serve in Snohomish County will come the need for expanded roads, new drinking water service, new schools, and a lot of other new infrastructure supports. A billion dollars in sewage infrastructure will become a tidal force that will create an implacable demand for more billions in parallel service infrastructures.
Are communities like Woodinville ready for 40 million dollar bond elections for raising taxes? Are citizens ready for the spiraling up in the local cost of living that will price many people out?
Has anybody been debating the virtues of adding to the public debt for each of the communities that will probably be affected? Has there been a notable silence on the subject? Is King County going to provide huge infrastructure in each of these categories?
The next scene in the movie: As citizens wake up to what is going on, about a fifteen year fight over the best way to have a balance between growth and the quality of life current residents wish to maintain will intensify. What this all looks like is just the opening sequence.
Stuart Heady, Edmonds