Letter to the Editor: More on liquefaction risks along Edmonds waterfront
Mr. Phil Lovell wrote a letter that was published in the Edmonds Beacon in early January. Since then, I’ve been fascinated with his response/rebuke of Mr. Dave Buelow’s letter that was published in that paper. (Mr. Buelow’s comments were also published on My Edmonds News as a “thank you” to Councilperson Joan Bloom’s opinion piece on why she is against the Port’s Harbor Square Master Plan.)
In his letter, Mr. Buelow lists his reasons why he supports Joan Bloom’s opinion. However, Mr. Lovell’s letter reads as an attempt to discredit Mr. Buelow’s opinions starting with; “I cannot (nor should anyone) accept the statements or allegations within Mr. Buelow’s letter that have no basis of reality or fact.”
What I find fascinating is that Mr. Lovell presents no facts that would discredit anything said by Mr. Buelow. He merely states that Mr. Buelow’s is irresponsible (3 times) and irrational in his opinions.
To give an example of what I mean, Mr. Lovell writes that, “Matters of geotechnical engineering are for the professional design engineers and consultants to solve when and if any project(s) should emerge in response to the master plan.” He also said: “Secondly, there is no reference whatsoever in Mr. Buelow’s letter as to published findings and/or facts regarding the subjects of liquefaction or tsunami potential that could prohibit successful redevelopment of the Harbor Square site.”
If Mr. Lovell had taken a couple of hours to do some research and fact check some of the “allegations” by Mr. Buelow, he would have found that both the Washington State and the Washington Department of Transportation geological survey maps clearly show that most of the of the waterfront is considered a high risk for liquefaction.
In fact on the Site Class Map of Snohomish County, the waterfront is shown to be “Site Class F – Requires site-specific investigation.”
One more detail, we on the West Coast live on the edge of the North American Tectonic Plate. According to Wikipedia, this plate is being pushed up by the Pacific Plate. Because of the collision of these two tectonic plates there are about a dozen fault lines in the Puget Sound area. The closest to ‘Our Fair City’ is the South Whidbey Island Fault. I can see the grey cliffs of the south end of Whidbey Island from my living room window.
The question isn’t “if” an earthquake will happen, but “when”.
To give another example of Mr. Lovell’s thinking: “Mr. Buelow’s assertion that the commuter rail station ‘will likely be re-located’ to the 220th and Interstate 5 area is completely without fact and a totally irrational statement.”
The supposed “irrational statement” of the commuter station being relocated to – actually it’s probably going to be at 236th and I-5 – has to do with Sound Transit’s development of a commuter light rail system. Here is the url for Sound Transit’s Long Range Map which show the location of the proposed stations. The Lynnwood extension is targeted to be operational in about 10 years.
The current railroad station will stay where it is as it services the Amtrak trains; unless WaDOT/Washington Ferry System moves the ferry dock to a proposed Point Edwards location as described in its 2004 ‘Multi-modal Plan’ document .
As for Sound Transit’s ‘Heavy Rail’ Sounder trains, I think that one might have reasonable cause to speculate if Sound Transit will continue operate the Sounder should ridership decline to where it becomes uneconomical to operate?
It is expected in a Ph.D. thesis or a peer reviewed journal one uses footnotes, endnotes and cites source materials. It would be an extremely absurd expectation that anyone who writes a letter to the editor or submits an opinion piece for publication to do the same.
But to claim that an individual’s opinion is unwarranted, irresponsible or irrational and then to not provide any factual support for those claims shows either a lack of credibility or a lack of academic integrity.
However, it also fascinates me (and I find it fairly disturbing) that any person, like Mr. Lovell, who volunteers his/her time and talents to a municipality, whose judgment is relied upon by a governmental body, like a city council, and is part of the political process, should allow his/her passions to get the better of oneself and use the media to publically upbraid a private citizen who merely wrote a letter to the editor in support of a council person’s opinion.
Paraphrasing Ashley Montegu Ph.D., ‘Personally, I’d rather have proof without certainty; rather than have certainty without facts’.
Additional readings regarding Edmonds’ earthquake potential: