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.
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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

Comment period open for Emma Schmitz Memorial seawall project

With an official press release due out as soon as this Monday, Beach Drive Blog has been notified by Seattle Parks and the Seattle District of the US Army Corp of Engineers that public comment is now open in regard to the pending seawall replacement for the southern section of Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook Park. Public Comment closes December 31st 2014. Click here for the Public Notice. Comments may be e-mailed to Melissa.L.Leslie@usace.army.mil.

Tanya M King, Public Affairs Specialist with the Corp is very interested in being the single point of contact for any unofficial comments or concerns residents may have regarding the project. There are several different public entities within the immediate scope of the project (Seattle Parks, King County sewer and road, City of Seattle utilities & sidewalk, etc) and Tanya is committed to work with all jurisdictions to get your answers “it may take a day or two or even longer in some cases, but I will do my best to make life easier for residents looking for answers or expressing concerns”. Please see Tanya’s contact info at the bottom of post.

We wrote an article back in April when Becky Rufin, Parks Engineering Manager with Seattle Parks & Rec was kind enough to share the 64 page proposed plan for the new seawall. Per Becky’s email today…

If approved by the federal government, the Seattle Parks Department will be entering into a cost-sharing agreement for replacement of this aging structure. Project design and construction would actually be executed by USACE.
Please note there is currently a public review period open for the proposal, and comments must be received by December 31, 2014.

Beach Drive Blog asked Tanya to confirm a few specifics regarding the project. She responded before I could even finish the post!

How much taller will the new wall stand above the existing? 2 to 3 feet

Is any type of railing going to be installed? Too early to tell. Not to that level of design stage yet but it would be built low if built at all.

What if any new landscaping will there be? Would work with parks dept. but low native shrub/vegetation is what we’d expect in respecting neighbor’s views.

One new aspect to the plan is in respect of losing a few feet of public beach when the proposed wall is built in front of the old wall…

Due to the close proximity of the sewer main to the existing seawall structure, moving the alignment of the new seawall landward was assumed to increase the risks of potential failures during construction and significantly increase overall costs of the project. Therefore, the decision was made to move the alignment slightly waterward and mitigate for any nearshore (beach) area lost as a result of the project. A small amount (0.02 acres) of beach would be lost due to the footprint of the new seawall. To offset the loss of habitat, the project would reclaim adjacent beach habitat by removing a portion of riprap placed in the 1998 City of Seattle emergency repair. This entails lengthening the amount of seawall installed in order to stabilize the shoreline back to or near its pre- 1998 alignment and removing the waterward riprap and fill materials. The proposed ratio would be a 1:1 replacement as this habitat reclaims the lost habitat imposed by the new seawall and could begin to function immediately post-construction.

I think Emma herself would be pleased to know her overlook park could grow a little wider…

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This 1940’s photo shows Emma (on right) with her daughter-in-law Frankie posing beside the old family mansion that once stood where Mee-Kwa-Mooks Park is now. Courtesy of Bob Thomas who found the photo in an attic of a property he now owns.

Again, please contact Tanya for any unofficial (non-public) questions or concerns regarding this long overdue project,

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 

 

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Better watch your step!

If you’re one of the many humans being walked by your dog along Beach Drive, you may be wondering when the Mutt Mitt boxes will be refilled. You’re going to have “hold it” until at least year-end according to the Seattle Parks people I’ve talked to. Lack of funding and having to prioritize needs will be the theme for the remainder of this year.

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One thought is to load up our local boxes with those biodegradable produce bags you get from grocery shopping. These boxes are located along Beach Drive at Cormorant Park, Mee-Kwa-Mooks, Lowman Beach, and the north entrance to Lincoln Park. I’d eat my (clean) shoe if Seattle Parks funds bags over employees in the foreseeable future.

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Working on the Sea Wall at Emma Schmitz View Point

Our intrepid reporter, Scupper, captured this photo of workers doing a temporary fix on the sea wall by Emma Schmitz View Point.

Wall Repair

 

This is to repair the damage from the stolen vehicle that went over the sea wall last month.

 

5th of July Hangover

This morning my husband, also known as Scupper on BDB, and I decided to grab a big garbage bag to pick up debris from fireworks that took place at Emma Schmitz last night. I was surprised to see just how much was left behind.

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One of last night’s partiers forgot an unopened can of beer in the tall grass.

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Emma Schmitz Seawall to get temporary fix

West Seattle Blog reports that the seawall that was damaged by the punks who sent a stolen vehicle into the Sound at Emma Schmitz Park will get a temporary fix. Read West Seattle Blog’s coverage here.

car june 22

Just doesn’t sit well…

UPDATE 8;47 PM 5/16/2014: We visited the site. The party is on… the chair is gone.

The now infamous Lazyboy of Beach Drive sits at party central in Mee-Kwa-Mooks park. This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post where a neighbor wanted someone to claim their chair that was left in front of their house.

IMG_2645A good perch for a “Mr. Rogers” type father figure to deliver a fireside chat?? Naw, more like a raging hot spot for delinquents to bust up some more PBR 40 ouncers and maybe a virgin sacrifice topped off with a chair burning ceremony!  Not that I’m against all that… just not in our parks please.

NOTE: Another neighbor to the park has called the Park’s Dept to haul it away before tonight’s festivities.

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog.

Sunny flash-back Thursday on Beach Drive

The super fine folks at the the Southwest Seattle Historical Society dug up another vintage photo for us to enjoy…

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The caption read: “Beach area below Jacobsen Dr on the left approximate location of Emma Schmitz and the houses on what was the orginal orchard area (of the Schmitz estate).”

I lined up the houses and vacant lots in the photo to put the circa between 1921-25. It appears that the old seawall was quite a bit higher and set back further than the current seawall constructed in 1927.  The one remaining mystery of this historic photo is the house(s) to the far north/left. Are they the houses at the north end of the park or were homes at one time built on the wider strip of land of the park? I’m thinking the cameras were just that much better in the 20’s :)

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The above photo was taken yesterday at low tide. The kids were splashing around where the old sewer/run-off  structure is now. If you’re thinking the water must’ve been freezing and it must’ve been some sort of a double-dog-dare, think again! I measured the water temp in the shallows to be around 75 degrees…no fool’n!!

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As far as the “original orchard” is concerned, a life long resident in the area told me that this is likely the last remaining fruit tree still standing from the original Schmitz family estate (now Mee-Kwa-Mooks park)…

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Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Tribute to a Beach Drive yacht that served her country

 

What better time than opening day of boating season to look back at a local legend? The Schmitz family yacht named Sans Souci II was 50′ long and weighed in at 8 tons. Built in 1907, she would’ve been 107 years old today! The following photo appears to be during an opening day parade between 1907 to 1917.

SansSouci2

After a decade of pleasure use, she was drafted into service by the navy and renamed the USS Sans Souci II.

Sans Souci H, a wooden boat built during 1907 by Frank Tregoning’s yard at Seattle, Wash., was enrolled in the Naval Coast Defense Reserve on 15 June 1917 following United States entry into World War I; delivered to the Navy on 9 July 1917 by her owner, D. G. Schmitz of Seattle; and commissioned on 1 August 1917, Chief Boatswain’s Mate R. W. Capps, USNRF, in command.

Assigned to local duty within the 13th Naval District, Sans Souci II operated on patrol duty from Seattle until September 1917. She also served, briefly, as a tender to Philadelphia (Cruiser No. 4), the receiving ship at Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash., during late 1917. Sans Souci II resumed patrol duty in Puget Sound, frequently operating with, or alternating with, SC-300, until 23 December 1918. She then remained inactive until decommissioned on 7 February 1919 and was struck from the Navy list the same day. Ordered returned to her owner on 26 March 1919, Sans Souci II remained on yacht registers into the early 1930’s.

This rare photo, courtesy of the fine folks at The Log House Museum/SWSHS, show her freshly decommissioned and still in uniform…

USSSansSouciII

Circa 1919, anchored in front of the Schmitz family estate (mansion in background) which is now known as Mee-Kwa-Mooks Park on Beach Drive SW

Soon after decommissioning, this WWI veteran resumed her duty as a pleasure yacht. Here she is in of my favorite photos entertaining some beach Drive residents in their groovy roaring 20’s swimwear…

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 Photo courtesy of Log House Museum/SWSHS book “West Seattle”

If some evening you’re awakened by a deep rumbling off the shores of Beach Drive, just might be the ghost of the Sans Souci II making way towards Alki Point!

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 Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

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:))