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King County Executive News

King County Executive News
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April 18, 2013

Mayor, County Executive, Port announce deal for water quality improvements and new park at Smith Cove

Deal responds to neighborhood’s desire for new park space

Today King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Port of Seattle Commission President Tom Albro announced a deal to construct new park space at Smith Cove and improve water quality in Elliott Bay. The deal is the result of negotiations between the City, County and Port to both expand park space at Smith Cove in response to neighborhood input and to support the County's investments in controlling combined sewer overflow. The new park will be more than five acres and is a long-desired waterfront space on Elliott Bay.

"The cooperation between our agencies illustrates perfectly how government can and should work in serving the public interest, and our work together at Smith Cove will create tremendous community and environmental benefits," said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

"Expanding public recreational space at Smith Cove will be a tremendous and treasured asset to the surrounding communities, one that has been a high priority for these neighborhoods for many years," said King County Council Member Larry Phillips, who represents the Magnolia and Interbay neighborhoods. "I have worked diligently with community, city, county, and port leaders to help make this vision a reality and I commend everyone involved on their cooperation and perseverance."

"This is a great day for parks and neighborhoods in Seattle," said Mayor Mike McGinn. "It took a lot of work over the years, but today we have put together a path forward for supporting more parks in Seattle and for helping support the County's sewer infrastructure."

King County led the effort for this agreement because of the need to site a new facility in the Magnolia area. Community members identified this as an opportunity for a new park and King County worked with its partners at the Port and the City to move the idea forward to protect Puget Sound from overflows of stormwater and sewage that occur near Smith Cove Park during heavy rains. Since the 1970s, King County has successfully reduced volumes of untreated discharges and uncontrolled CSOs in area waterways by more than 90 percent.

"This proposed CSO project is good for Puget Sound's health, and in keeping with the Port Commission's commitment to environmental stewardship," said Tom Albro, Port commission president. "The proposed park will also allow the public to see what a working water front does on a daily basis."

The Port determined that this site would have less Port-related economic development potential upon completion of the CSO project and that, in a careful balancing of the other public objectives—including the County's need to site the CSO project and the neighboring communities' interest in additional park space—selling the site to the County and City is the best result.

"After years of conversations, the dream of Smith Cove Park will be realized," said Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. "I am grateful that all parties involved -- the City of Seattle, King County, and the Port --found a path to 'yes'. I especially want to thank the Magnolia and Queen Anne community members who persisted in their vision. Together we will replace blackberry vines and chain link fencing with another green gem along our Waterfront. Kudos to all!"

The total acquisition cost for the new park is $5,216,000. It will be funded by the 2000 Parks Levy, 2008 Parks Levy, Conservation Futures Funding and the sale of easements to King County for the Magnolia Combined Sewer Overflow project. The deal is still pending legislative action from both City and County councils, and the Port commission.