Update: Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook seawall project

It’s been since December 2014 that the public comment period ended in regard to the Alki Coastal Erosion project spearheaded by the Seattle District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project outlines a plan to replace a stretch of seawall that precariosly holds back the 50″ diameter sewage pipe that flows around 2 million gallons of wastewater per day.

BartonPumpStation

A representative from the Army Corps Public Affairs Office promptly responded to my inquiry in wondering what the delay was for getting construction started….

“According to our project manager, we received a letter of concurrence from the State Historic Preservation Officer and we sent our feasibility report and appendices to our higher headquarters in Portland June 1 for review and approval. We are now waiting for them to review – if they determine we’ve adequately addressed their comments, then we’ll be ready to get going on the Design and Implementation phase. We are anticipating approval this summer.”

I’m not sure if “approval this summer” will result in any near-term progress. However, I can tell you that the Seattle Parks Department’s truck drivers are getting pretty nervous how the seawall is holding up every time they park near it to backfill the erosion

The newly refinished Barton Pump Station and nearly completed Murray Ave Station won’t do much good if the main artery to the West Point Treatment Plant ruptures due to a collapsing seawall. All of us living down near the beach will know first hand the meaning of “it all rolls downhill”.

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Anglers at Mee Kwa Mooks

What’s with all the tents at Mee Kwa Mooks today? Well…it’s the second annual Emerald Waters Fly Fest!

anglers
This event is free and features a cook-off. Last year, the event was held at Lincoln Park. Mee Kwa Mooks appears to be more conducive for this event with the lack of picnic tables. Click here for more info.

 

Reader asks about park bench replacement at Beach Drive & Jacobsen

A very popular rest stop at the south end of Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook took a tumble from corrosion back on February 23rd (shouldn’t have eaten that last bite). Neighbors and out-of-towners have enjoyed watching the scenery under the huge “Raptor Tree” that Eagle & Osprey often use to spy on prey. Love that tree!

IMG_5507

Appears that the 2 legged benches are all failing at the weld just under the bench. There a few more with the same design near the drinking fountain that had caution tape applied immediately after the Jacobsen bench toppled . The tape has since come off and the older benches still stand… barely

IMG_5551

 

The newer 4 legged butt rest looks like a much better design for being near the saltwater…

IMG_5552

 

As far as replacement, we reported a few years back on plans to rebuild that entire section of the deteriorating seawall. No bench replacement or additions were to happen until the seawall issue gets solved. Construction was intended to start last Summer but the design work was never finalized. A response from the Army Corp of Engineers back in November 2015 didn’t show much progress.

 Unfortunately I don’t have any updates at this point. We are still working through our feasibility phase process before we can move into final design.

I have a current email out to the Army Corp asking for any further progress & will update as soon as they respond.  Meanwhile, the storms keep pounding it and the park department continues to backfill the erosion.

IMG_5542

Picture above taken on the stormy morning of 3/10/16… photo below was furnished by a Beach Drive neighbor the very next morning. Park department workers mentioned that they really didn’t like parking their heavy equipment on the slumping strip of grass which precariously covers  the 54″ sewer line carrying 50 million gallons of sewage per day!

IMG_5549

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Killers chasing chum off of Beach Drive

Several onlookers lined the sidewalk along Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook watching a nearby Orca pod. The whales have been spotted all over the area for the last couple of days according to West Seattle Blog reports. The Orca are most likely chasing the large fall chum salmon run which contains nearly 90% of the entire annual chum numbers that migrate down to central & south Puget Sound.

IMG_5269

It was also reported that The Whale Trail organization has spotted other aquatic species in the area as well.

 

IMG_5271

Well, maybe not ALL of them…

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

 

Escape the Stench

This is just in from a Beach Drive neighbor, Mary:

West Seattle has a real treasure a short distance away from Beach Drive’s odoriferous low tides: The Arboretum at South Seattle College’s north end.  Leaves there are beginning to turn reds and yellows.  Amble the winding paths through pleasant-smelling shrubbery (e.g., Golden Elaeagnus).  The award-winning dwarf conifer collection also begins changing colors this fall. Free guided tours Oct. 10.

arboretum

I’ll bet THEIR mellow was harshed!

As many of us were standing at the base of Mee-Kwa-Mooks park last night wondering why a dozen or so fire & rescue units (and more converging within a dog’s howl) were blocking Beach Drive SW, a group of kids were sitting around an illegal fire set 150 yards up the hill in the tinder dry forest.

IMG_4209This freshly created pit wasn’t here during the day yesterday

Can you imagine the scene?? Just sitting around the fire cracking a beer talking about a new carbon fiber hood or up-coming protests when… “are those sirens coming this way?”. Then justified paranoia sets in as the first responder slams on their brakes at the bottom of the hill with another dozen screaming on the way! I can picture the precious PBR’s being sacrificed to the fire in effort to calm the smoke not to mention the already drank ones puddling at their feet.

IMG_4188

Last night’s onlookers watching responders searching the waters for false alarm parachuter

I’m pretty certain the kids were mingling with the crowd of on-lookers by this point and relieved that they weren’t “the incident”. There’s only a few really good stories friends get to share together. I’ll bet this is one counts.

All kidding aside though, the fire up in the park appears to have burnt all the way out. One spark the wrong way and we would’ve had a real situation. There was a pretty decent northerly blowing and several houses (friends) bordering the park in harms way.

IMG_4211

The old illegal pit circled by the old Schmitz mansion’s concrete retaining wall blocks appears to have been put out of service by purposely fallen trees (what could possibly go wrong with that method?). The dead bush in the foreground is drier than an old Christmas tree in June.

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Deflated birthday balloons causes massive response off Emma Schmitz memorial park

A rescue response of about two dozen vehicles and several coastguard/police boats converged along the shores of Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook at around 10:00PM tonight. A witness called in what they thought was a parachuter dropping into the sound about 200 yards off the beach. After 40 minutes of searching, divers and boats at the scene radioed in a large bouquet of mylar balloons floating in the water. Surprise! Close to a hundred or so spectators lined the street to witness the non-event unfold.

IMG_4203

A rescue diver assesses the theater…

IMG_4195

It was actually nice to see a false alarm for once on this stretch a beach that’s witnessed it’s share of tragedies.

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

 

Unusual carcass washes up on Beach Drive shore

A local neighbor reported this washed up shark carcass to Washington Fish & Wildlife late this morning while walking his dog along Emma Schmitz Viewpoint…

Shark_001

Beach Drive resident Mark Snyder spotted the nearly 6 foot hulk after peering over the edge of the seawall to see what all the bird racket was about.

A spokesperson from WSFW believed that it may be related to a species of Thresher shark they’ve been seeing due to the warmer than usual waters off the coast. She also mentioned that ocean going ships will often snag an animal from distant waters and deposit them on inland shores as they reduce speed. A Wildlife boat has been dispatched for tomorrow morning to drag the shark back to the Armeni ramp for proper disposal.

Mark is often seen sail boarding on the windiest of days around here and told us that “this will definitely make me better at my sport, I’d hate to fall out there and meet one of these guys!”

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Routine maintenance on Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook sea wall

A Seattle Park & Rec crew performed some routine and temporary repairs today along the aging sea wall.

IMG_3910

Winter storms and runoff has caused erosion in several areas behind the 1927 wall… and in front of the 54″ sewer main where the crew will back-fill with gravel.

IMG_3908

The permanent fix is still in the paper stage with the Seattle division of Army Corp of Engineers.  I’m waiting for a response regarding any progress and will report on any new developments.

UPDATE: 1:32 PM

Melissa Leslie of the US Army Corps of Engineers informed me that there are no updates at this time.

The feasibility report is still under review at our Division office. Once the project is approved we will then start the design phase to reach 100% design. Seattle Parks is probably just be conducting maintenance at this time.

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

 

Official News Release regarding popular Beach Drive seawall project

Hot off the press from the Seattle Division of US Army Corp of Engineers:

SEATTLE – The U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, has partnered with the Seattle Parks and Recreation to design and implement a coastal storm damage reduction project under Section 103 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1962, as amended. The public comment period for this project runs through Dec. 31.

Emma Schmitz Overlook is located at 4503 Beach Drive SW, south of Alki Point in Seattle. The site includes a seawall built around 1927 that has deteriorated over time. Currently coastal storms and erosion threaten public infrastructure located in and around the seawall, including a 54-inch King County sewer main, a major public arterial, city park property and other underground utilities. The recommended plan includes construction of a soldier pile seawall parallel to the shoreline throughout the study area. The new seawall would be a few feet higher and seaward of the existing seawall. This would provide protection against damages caused by coastal storm events that occur in Puget Sound.

In 1998, the City of Seattle was prompted to take emergency action to stabilize the shoreline to the north of the proposed federal project when storm waves resulted in the failure of a similar section of existing seawall and subsequent erosion of shoreline protection that threatened utilities, roadways, and public lands. The city completed permanent emergency repairs on this adjacent site, which is not included in the scope of the proposed Federal project.

The recommended plan was chosen because it has the least environmental impacts, cost the least cost and meets all project purposes. Coordination with resource agencies and federal tribes is ongoing and preliminary indications expect a concurrence with the project.

The implementation cost of the recommended plan is estimated to be $2.29 million and will be cost-shared 65 percent federal ($1,488,000) and 35 percent non-federal ($801,000). The non-federal sponsor, Seattle Parks and Recreation, is responsible for all lands, easements, right-of-ways, relocations, and/or disposal areas which are controlled by the sponsor. Economic analysis suggests the project could prevent millions of dollars of physical and non-physical damages, resulting in a favorable benefit-cost ratio.

Submit comments to this office, Attn: Environmental and Cultural Resources Branch, no later than December 31, 2014 to ensure consideration. In addition to sending comments via mail, comments may be e-mailed to Melissa.L.Leslie@usace.army.mil. The Notice of Availability and Draft DPR/EA can be found at the following website: http://www.nws.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/EnvironmentalDocuments/2014EnvironmentalDocuments.aspx. Requests for additional information should be directed to Ms. Melissa Leslie at 206-764-6587, or the above e-mail address.
###

Tanya M. King
Public Affairs Specialist
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District
206-764-6958 (office)
206-422-2679 (cell)
206-764-3769 (fax)
http://www.nws.usace.army.mil

I would like to think that this project could grease the skids of King County in favor of Beach Drive residents considering to raise their own seawalls from events caused by global warming.

Historic1968 Emma Schmitz Park seawall circa 1968. Photo credit to City of Seattle archives

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog