Olympic Beach will get improved access, thanks to $500K infusion from Snohomish County

Thanks to funding from the County, the City of Edmonds is planning to buy the property at 260 Beach Place. The current structure, a single family home, would be demolished, and the land used to enlarge and enhance the existing access path from the parking area to the park, adjacent to the Edmonds Bay Building (on the right in photo).

Thanks to funding from the County, the City of Edmonds is planning to buy the property at 260 Beach Place. The current structure, a single family home, would be demolished, and the land used to enlarge and enhance the existing access path from the parking area to the park, adjacent to the Edmonds Bay Building (on the right in photo).

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.

 The popular Olympic Beach offers several pieces of public art, a lawn area, picnic table, a paved promenade, and sandy beach.  The proposed project would make the park more accessible from the existing parking area to the east.

The popular Olympic Beach offers several pieces of public art, a lawn area, picnic table, a paved promenade, and sandy beach. The proposed project would make the park more accessible from the existing parking area to the east.

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 site viewed from the beach shows the house on the left, the existing access path in the center, and the Edmonds Bay Building on the right.

The site viewed from the beach shows the house on the left, the existing access path in the center, and the Edmonds Bay Building on the right.

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

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. I need to comment on this ‘project.’ First of all, Olympic Beach is a great place and it’s always been accessible. The increment of gained access, compared to the money spent to date, is quite small. I’ve never heard a complaint about access, have not seen folks @ the Beach throwing a fit because of dreadful access, etc. And by the time the purchases are done, and upgrades completed, over a million dollars will be have spent for a little piece of land. To top it off the current piece of City land (the first purchase) is often a boggy mess as it has poor drainage. We either tip-toe around it or go to one of the other points of easy access. I know the deed is done, the property owner is happy, but the benefit to the citizens and guests is small @ best. I really think other park projects, like improving the sliver of park land @ Lake Ballinger is a much better use of tax monies.

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