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.





















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






















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.




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:))

Purple Starfish survives off Beach Drive!

Given all the depressing news about sea-star populations wasting away in Puget Sound (as well as along many other west coast shorelines), I thought I would check for myself during this afternoon’s low tide. I snapped this pic at a large rock formation located at the edge of the 2.5 tide…


I didn’t have time to count all the toes but I can report that all the arms of these stars looked perfectly healthy!


Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Pump Station #39 project under way @ 5000 block of Beach Drive

Construction for placing a permanent diesel generator at SPU Pump Station #39 is well under way. It’s the last of 9 pump sites recently granted a permanent solution for keeping the sewage flowing during a power outage. Several other sites around the city  require portable generators to be hauled in during outages.


This project required a City Council vote early this year to approve the proposed “shallow” set-back from the sidewalk. The proposed location of the generator is actually a compromise helped along by effected neighbors that didn’t want the generator located further up the hill. Their first choice, along with others along the drive would be to have the entire project located underground. This would cost approx 3 times as much as the proposed so it appears a fair compromise was worked out. Other compromises worked out by our local neighbors include an eight foot wood fence rather than the standard 6′ chain-link and that the generator is only run/tested once every month for 30 minutes rather than the weekly noise which is standard elsewhere.

Rumor has it, some neighbors were actively working on making this one of Seattle’s new “pocket parks“.



The station was originally installed in 1959 and is located on city of Seattle property.

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Could be a wild ride!

I was a bit surprised to see a few boats still on their moorage buoys this afternoon. Past Septembers have been pretty mild as far as wind & waves but this one’s a different story. Tonight’s forecast of an all out storm fits weather patterns in November thru February rather than a summer month.

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Tall ship riding the out going tide & the pic of the week

Caught up with the Hawaiian Chieftain square rigger on it’s way from Port Orchard to Kirkland where she’ll be fixing her canons on the Lady Washington! Carillon Point Marina will host the two traditional sailing vessels for mock battles and ship tours thru Sept 2nd.



And here is our pic of the week taken by Ron Sterling across the street from Lowman Beach. The controversial Murray CSO Control Facility is in full swing…


 Say goodbye to this 1926 duplex and the other long-standing houses along the strip.


Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog 




Big bottom fishing bust happening off Beach Drive

A frequent visitor to the south Alki “Rock Pile” reef appears to be suspected for illegal fishing. The authorities have been rafted up for at least an hour searching and confiscating what must be illegal fish. This has been a regular stop for this boat over the last couple of years.

DSC_0888The boat registration appears to be from Oregon

With a view from my telescope, I can see handcuffs being put on a couple of the men and a telephones being passed between the 10 fishermen/women/children and the authority. Might be a language barrier. Poles have been confiscated and paperwork passed out.

The bottomfish rules for Area 10 are as follows…


DSC_0904Several fish have been thrown to the gulls. We may be reading about this on a poaching enforcement site soon!


Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

New rest-stop for seals installed off of Beach Drive SW

As a neighbor and I were tracking down the impending giant herd of pink salmon, we noticed that the old buoy off of Alki Point mysteriously disappeared while this new one near Lincoln Park magically appeared!


This new scientific research buoy installed by King County Natural Resources & Parks will be measuring all kinds of data regarding our local water quality.  A member of the water quality team kindly sent us this info:

A  new marine buoy was successfully deployed on July 30th off of Point Williams (West Seattle) in Central Puget Sound by staff of the King County Environmental Laboratory’s Field Science Unit. The buoy is anchored at a depth of approximately 550 feet.   An in situ water quality monitoring system is contained on the buoy and consists of water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, chlorophyll, nitrate, and depth sensors that collect data measurements every 15-minutes. The sensors are suspended below the buoy at a depth of about 1 meter.  Data are sent via a cell-phone in near real-time to the County’s marine mooring webpage where the public can access the data.  The webpage can be found at

This in situ water quality monitoring system is one of four systems of this type that collect high temporal resolution data that are used to evaluate daily, and sometimes hourly, variability in Puget Sound marine waters.  The data are integrated into the County’s monthly marine monitoring program in order to provide a more comprehensive picture of marine water quality dynamics.


She also stated that this new and improved float is a replacement for the buoy that was located off of Alki Point. Apparently the Alki buoy had a pretty tough time weathering our recent winter storms. This new model is much beefier and will hopefully hang for it’s five year stint as stated on it’s Application for Use.


researchbouyThis photo from Natural Resources appears to be working with the old Alki buoy. The newer version off of Lincoln Park is said to be much easier to maintain “With the new and improved design, they just have to lift up a cable and change a connection—WAY better and safer.”


The nice folks at the DNR followed up with a live link to the science buoy:  He said “Just mouse over the green dot on the proper location and you will get the most up to date data.  Click on the dot and you can view graphs and download data. Note that the Seattle Aquarium unit provides very interesting data.  You can compare the 1 meter data to 10 meters, which often times shows huge discrepancies due to the fresh water coming out of the Duwamish River.”

 The gentleman that maintains the DNR buoys also wanted to leave his phone number (206-684-2323) if anyone notices if the light on top stops flashing or any other obvious damage that can lead to a navigational hazard. Boarding or approaching a state owned buoy too closely is illegal.

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Don’t be Alarmed! Last Resort Fire Dept. just chill’n at Mee-Kwa-Mooks

Vintage fire trucks and crew take some time to relax after cruising the West Seattle parade earlier today…

Getting ready for the fireworks show at 10PM tonight?




Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Beach Drive Fireworks Show this Saturday @ 4500 Block

It’ll be boom city this Saturday at 10PM for a 10 minute show of barged-in fireworks. Tuxedo and Tennis Shoes has given notice via West Seattle Blog about the brief show taking place off the 4500 block of Beach Drive. I know our dog Scupper will be looking for ducks falling out of the sky.  Hope everyone’s pets around the vicinity (just north of Mee-Kwa-Mooks) take it in stride!



Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog 

Thunder storm disrupts cocktail hour on Beach Drive -THE AFTERMATH-

On the bright side, those that didn’t reset their clocks as soon as the power returned were treated to an extra half hour! For others it was reason for concern…


I spoke to one of the guys on the job this morning about any concerns of heavy rainfall on the Atlas slide zone: “I definitely gave it a thought!”

Rhonda Porter of BDB captured these weather shots after the storm cleared


Make mine a double!


It was back to regular programming by day’s end.


Chance of thunderstorms later this afternoon according to the NOAA marine weather report

840 AM PDT WED JUN 26 2013


Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog