Just a year ago, the shores of Ebey Slough in Marysville were littered with abandoned boats, and the muddy banks made reaching the water virtually impossible.
Now, for the first time since roads replaced a dock that steamers used a century ago to reach the city, there's public waterfront access in Marysville.
The new Ebey Waterfront Park was dedicated over the weekend and opened to the public Sunday, providing four free boat-launch ramps and other attractions.
"The pinks [salmon] are coming up the slough. A few weeks later, the duck hunters will be lining up," said Jim Ballew, the city parks director. "It's really a nice showcase facility."
The 5.4-acre park, immediately west of Highway 529, is in the area where white pioneers first arrived in Marysville, reaching the settlement by steamboat and stopping at a dock along the slough.
Later, roads were built, and Highway 99 provided a bridge to Everett by the 1930s. The docks were abandoned, and sawmills and other industries began operating along the waterfront.
After those industries declined and the property became available, the city bought the site from Welco Lumber for $880,569 in 1998. About seven more years of work followed, with an original $2.6 million development price rising to $3.8 million.
The bulk of the project is being paid for with city money, along with about $817,000 provided through a grant from the state Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation. Construction started last summer.
Premium Construction of Everett was the general contractor. Designs were developed by Hammond Collier Wade Livingstone along with Hough Beck & Baird, landscape and urban-design architects, and Arai Jackson Architects, all of Seattle.
The park includes trails, benches looking over the slough and the Snohomish River, a picnic pavilion and space for fishing.
There's also a set of Danish play equipment with a nautical theme of climbing ropes and renditions of channel markers and bell buoys.
"Kids will feel like they're climbing the mast of the Lady Washington," Ballew said.
The park is expected to become a hub for an Ebey Slough trail extending along the waterway east to the Allen Creek area.
The improvements are expected to help revitalize Marysville's downtown and provide a waterfront focal point for community activities.
The park is going to be "an invaluable resource for economic development, downtown revitalization and tourism along the city's southern gateway," Mayor Dennis Kendall said.
Hopes are high for such businesses as the next-door Geddes Marina and Boatland USA, where owners have been waiting for years for the waterfront access.
"I would think there'll be a different kind of business," said Rick Seaver, a clerk at Boatland USA, anticipating that boat owners arriving at the launch ramps will discover they need something and will find it just a few feet away.
"People will be running in for crab pots," he said, and probably for countless other things, from getting trailers fixed to buying ice cream.
"It's going to be snack time," he said.
Peyton Whitely: 206-464-2259 or email@example.com