After finding my blog nearly a year ago, the Mount Vernon Downtown Association was kind enough to have me come talk to them today about my travels and take a look at their fine collection of alleys in the downtown. Poised to become a great center of culture in the Skagit Valley, the downtown, like many cities planned around the turn of the century in the region has a strong main street with a lot of small mom and pop retail shops and a few civic buildings. Mount Vernon has a slightly problematic relationship with the Skagit River that so beautifully winds through it. The river tends to flood, warranting the use of a flood wall and in the hopefully near future, a brand new waterfront sea wall design complete with stormwater filtration, an esplanade, and a new setting for their already vibrant farmers’ market.
The alleys here are quite thin – similar to those in Japan and are fortunate to have great sun access because of the lack of many buildings over one or two storeys. The soil condition is clearly a dynamic one with some buildings dipping and cracking due to the silty fill – and the alleys have their own unique topography due to this uneven settling. There are many unique conditions, circumstances, and parties involved and excited that could create a brand new layer of experience for this small town and really transform its urban identity.
I would like to thank Frank Bettendorf and the Downtown Association for a lovely day and I can’t wait to see what happens in the beautiful alleys of Mount Vernon!