Rain or shine, Olympic Beach always attracts visitors.
The public art, the benches, the grassy lawn, the promenade, the expansive views of Puget Sound and the Olympics, and of course the sandy beach make it a gem of the Edmonds public park system. It’s the perfect spot for everything from a mid-July picnic to a brisk stroll on a blustery February afternoon.
And now a planned expansion will make Olympic Beach more accessible and enjoyable to visitors.
“We’re looking at enhancing access to Olympic Beach and expanding the lawn area by acquiring the property at 206 Beach Place,” said Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite. “With the recent County Council approval of the Conservation Futures Board’s recommendation of $500,000 to help us buy this property, we’re one step closer to being able to do this.”
Made up of local elected officials at the county and city levels plus two members of the general public, the Conservation Futures Board evaluates potential acquisitions for their value to the public, the natural environment, and to preserve and maintain open space. Funding comes from county property tax assessments. The Board then makes recommendations to County Council, which has the authority to approve the projects.
Other recommended projects this year include helping the City of Lynnwood purchase property adjacent to Meadowdale Park to protect it from development, and assisting the City of Mukilteo in buying up 98 acres near Japanese Gulch.
The Board made its recommendations to the County Council, and on Sept. 11 the council voted to approve the proposed projects. (See the approved proposal here.)
County Council chair and 17-year Lynnwood resident Stephanie Wright sits on the Board and was a key supporter of the Edmonds project. “I think that this is a great project for the city, and I appreciate their focus on maintaining the waterfront access for the public. It is such a well-used asset for the entire community,” she said.
The Edmonds project calls for acquiring the property at 260 Beach Place, which occupies the space between the building housing the Underwater Sports dive shop and the Reef Apartments, and the Edmonds Bay Building. When incorporated into the park, this parcel will provide enhanced access to the lawn and beach from the Railroad Avenue parking area.
Originally there were three single-family homes on this site, but in 2009 the City purchased the southernmost parcel. “We bulldozed the house, and used the land to provide public access to Olympic Beach,” Hite said. “It’s pretty narrow, but thanks to the Conservation Futures Board and the County Council, we have the opportunity to acquire the adjacent parcel and expand this area.”
The city would take the lead in property purchase, with the Conservation Futures money put toward the sale when details are finalized. The City of Edmonds would provide a partial match.
Hite said that while the property owner has expressed interest in selling, several things need to happen before it’s a done deal. Forterra (formerly the Cascade Land Conservancy) is acting as the city’s agent, and a formal appraisal is expected within the next couple of months. Once this is in place, Forterra would open negotiations with the property owner to work out a mutually agreeable price and purchase terms. Learn more about Forterra here.
Hite expressed hope that one day the City might be able to acquire the last remaining parcel in this area, currently occupied by a single-family home. “This would give us the opportunity to create a first-class public space,” she said. “But the property owner of this parcel is not interested in selling at this time.”
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel