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Water quality, park to benefit as Seattle, King County complete land acquisitions

Summary

Improved Elliott Bay water quality and a new, expanded regional waterfront park at Smith Cove in Seattle will result from land deals completed in recent days involving the City of Seattle, King County and the Port of Seattle.

Story

Improved Elliott Bay water quality and a new, expanded regional waterfront park at Smith Cove in Seattle will result from land deals completed in recent days involving the City of Seattle, King County and the Port of Seattle.

“Transforming most of this underused property into a tranquil public place, we are at once improving public access to one of Seattle’s most scenic shorelines and protecting the water quality of Puget Sound,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine

“Neighbors of Elliott Bay will gain a new waterfront park and increased protection from sewer and stormwater overflows thanks to the collaborative efforts of King County, Seattle, and the Port of Seattle,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, an advocate for Smith Cove Park for two decades. “The expansion of Smith Cove Park is a tremendous example of how neighborhood and elected leaders can work together across jurisdictions, breaking down barriers and finding creative solutions to accomplish great things for our community.”

“This is a great addition to the Seattle parks system,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. “This partnership allows us to expand park space in Magnolia and Queen Anne, creates more access to our waterfront, and improves our stormwater management.”

The City of Seattle purchased four acres from the Port for roughly $5.2 million that will allow it to expand Smith Cove Park and improve waterfront access across from Queen Anne at Pier 91.

The County’s Wastewater Treatment Division invested about $3.24 million for a portion of the property and easements it needs for a 1.5 million-gallon Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) storage tank facility in the Smith Cove area. The CSO facility site was located and designed to accommodate future park use in the surrounding area.   

“This waterfront park at Smith Cove overlooks Seattle’s $9 billion fishing industry that supports 33,000 jobs all across the region,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Tom Albro. “We must protect Puget Sound if we want to preserve the working waterfront. Water quality and economic health go hand in hand.”

In April, King County, the City of Seattle, and Port of Seattle announced the deals that would result in the acquisition of the Port’s West Yard property to create a new park at Smith Cove and to provide King County with the ability to improve water quality in Elliott Bay. This was followed by legislative approval by the City and County councils and the Port commission.

Late last week the acquisition of this long desired waterfront property on Elliott Bay was completed with all the final details worked out and the city’s payment of $ 5.2 million, and is one of the largest park acquisitions in the recent past. The potential for a park at Smith Cove has been a vision of both the Magnolia and Queen Anne communities for years and the will be a great addition to Seattle’s waterfront.

Funding for the Seattle acquisition came from the 2000 Parks Levy, 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy, Conservation Futures funding and the sale of easements to King County for the Magnolia CSO project.

It is anticipated that the initial funding for park development will be part of a Parks funding measure, expected to be submitted to the voters in 2014.

The County’s design for the CSO facility minimizes the land required for the tank, associated facilities, and requires stormwater management features. Landscaping design emphasizes native plant vegetation buffers to screen operational areas of the facility, and provide habitat and stormwater control.

The project is part of King County’s ongoing program to control CSOs, which occur in older parts of the wastewater system that carry both wastewater and stormwater to the treatment plant. When heavy rains fill the pipes, excess stormwater and sewage flow directly into local water bodies. Historically, CSOs were designed into the system to avoid damage to facilities and sewer backups into homes and businesses and onto streets during storms.

CSOs are a concern because untreated wastewater and stormwater may be discharged to Puget Sound during large storms, posing risks to public health and the environment.

The South Magnolia CSO facility discharged untreated wastewater and stormwater into Puget Sound 22 times in 2011. King County is working to meet Washington Department of Ecology regulations that require no more than one untreated discharge per year on a long-term average.

After storms have passed, flows from the new storage tank will be sent through the Interbay Pump Station and conveyed to the West Point Treatment Plant.

For more information on King County’s work to control CSOs, visit www.kingcounty.gov/environment/wastewater/CSO

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