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Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith shares community updates over coffee

By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff

Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith held a virtual coffee chat with the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County on the morning of October 27, conversing with community members about local community updates.

“Lynnwood has a couple of north stars, well maybe it’s just one north star, but we follow our Lynnwood community vision that our community of about 500 people put together almost a decade ago,” explained Smith. “We also follow our strategic plan with the goals that we have.”

According to Mayor Smith, the city is focused on the city center, the Lynnwood light rail, financial stability, operational and organizational excellence, being a safe, welcoming, and livable city, and focusing on collaborative relationships and partnerships.

Sharing a synopsis of Lynnwood’s coronavirus response, Mayor Smith recalled the activation of the emergency operation center back in February, shouting out its leader Deputy Chief of the Lynnwood Police Department (LPD) Chuck Steichen. City buildings were closed to the public and 70% of city staff were directed to telecommute.

To support the community, Lynnwood transformed an old emissions site into a hygiene center, providing showers and bathroom facilities for people experiencing homelessness. Since April, the site has served over 4,000 people.

Through CARES Act funding, the city has put $800,000 into small business grants, awarding 80 businesses $10,000 grants. An additional $300,000 has been used through a community relief fund, supporting community members with rent and mortgage assistance.

The LPD’s Community Health and Safety Section, consisting of a sergeant, two officers, and a social worker have continued to make contact with the homeless population living with substance use disorders and/or mental health issues, offering them access to services.

Mayor Smith says she is pleased that the LPD is also a part of Snohomish County’s Law Enforcement Diversion (LEAD) program, working towards alternatives to incarceration for those in the community.

As the LPD jail is currently undersized, a new Community Justice Center is under works to stand in place of the current police station to adequately support the police department, municipal court, and the jail inside of the facility. Mayor Smith says the most exciting thing about the project is LPD’s collaboration with a neighboring healthcare organization to connect individuals in the criminal justice system with services.

“The community justice center is a big deal for us, another game-changer that will happen.”

Economic development has persisted throughout the pandemic, says Mayor Smith. Recently, the city permitted the garage to be constructed for the Lynnwood Lightrail. As a board member on the Sound Transit Board of Directors, Mayor Smith says she is being reassured that the Lightrail project is funded and will be completed on time in 2024.

“This is really moving forward,” said Smith.”

When operational, the Lynnwood Lightrail is expected to serve 18,000 people daily, and be the ending station for about a decade.

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