New Seawall for Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook in 2015?

Plans are being finalized for a badly needed revamp for the deteriorating section of seawall at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook. Rebecca Rufin, PE Parks Engineering Manager was kind enough to reply to Beach Drive Blog’s email inquiry on any future plans to shore up the south portion of the vulnerable seawall.

Currently the US Army Corps of Engineers, with whom we have partnered under a preliminary federal grant program, is putting the finishing touches on a comprehensive study of a seawall replacement proposal.  The study includes analysis of several design options and establishes a preferred approach based on economic, environmental, and other factors.  When the study is complete, it will be sent to the federal offices in Washington DC for final approval and funding.

Assuming it is approved, the preferred design will essentially build a new seawall in front of the existing one, which will be left in place.  The new seawall will be a bit higher.  This would result in a park area adjacent to the street that will be a few feet wider and significantly more level, making it much more amenable for walking trail, landscape elements, and benches. 

As for schedule, we do not anticipate project approval to proceed until sometime this summer.  Detailed design would then commence, with construction likely the summer of 2015.

All the above is subject to change, but it’s the most likely scenario at this time.

 

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Did I also mention this beauty sits on a fault line?!

 

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Imagine a another 10+ feet of level park grass.

 

City and County officials have been eying the need to fix/repair this critical section of bulkhead for nearly a decade. The West Seattle Herald reported back in 2006 about fears of an environmental disaster if something wasn’t done soon. Quoting Les Soule, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers…

“If there is a major storm, there could be a loss of a portion of the seawall,” he said. “We would sure lose the 54-inch sewer main.”

The same article went on to quote Seattle City Councilman Richard Conlin, who served as the chairman of the City Council’s Environment, Emergency Management and Utilities Committee back in ’06…

“The danger of catastrophic failure is real, which is why we are taking it up as an emergency preparedness mitigation project,” Conlin wrote in an e-mail response to questions. “It did fail to the north of this project site in 1998 during a winter storm.”

The sewer line behind the seawall carries about 50 million gallons of sewage a day northward along Beach Drive on its way to the West Point sewage treatment plant, Conlin said.

 

Historic3

 

The following year, this Statement of Intent was entered:

 

 

Emma Schmitz Memorial Park-Seawall Repair

(SLI 122-1-A-2)

Statement of Legislative Intent: No later than June 15, 2007, the Department of Parks and Recreation will report to the Council Environment, Emergency Management and Utilities Committee on updated cost estimates and methods, a cost sharing plan and a timeline for repair of the Emma Schmitz Memorial Park Seawall. The Department will work with the Seattle Department of Transportation, the Office of Emergency Management and King County Metro in developing the cost estimates and plans. The Department is also requested to contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to see if they are able to reinitiate funding for the project.

Responsible Council Committee(s): Environment, Emergency Management and Utilities Date Due to Council: June 15, 2007

I hope our tax dollars get put to work on this over-due project before a new wave of storms slam into the seawall.

Hat tip to neighbor Ed for alerting us that something was brewing at the park. His request for donating a park bench for dear friends that have recently passed is being delayed until the Seattle Parks Dept get a clearer picture of pending construction.

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

*A case study published in 2008 by a UW student “Planning for Sea Level Rise in Seattle, Washington” centered it’s attention to replacement of the Emma Schmitz seawall. (I know all of you must be eager to hear my book report on it:))

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