Sunset Walkway Project public meeting reveals deep differences but much consensus

City of Edmonds engineer Rob English listens to Sunset Avenue property owner Jim Wilkinson. An eight-year resident of Sunset Avenue, Wilkerson is interested in how parking will be managed and enforced, and how views and access will be protected. He is flanked by Janette Turner and City Council president Lora Petso.

City of Edmonds engineer Rob English listens to Sunset Avenue property owner Jim Wilkinson. An eight-year resident of Sunset Avenue, Wilkinson is interested in how parking will be managed and enforced, and how views and access will be protected. He is flanked by Janette Turner and City Council president Lora Petso.

The Library Plaza Room was the scene of a lively, sometimes argumentative first public meeting to present preliminary design ideas and concepts for the Sunset Avenue Walkway Project. Moderated by City of Edmonds Public Works Director Phil Williams, the meeting drew more than 50 citizens running the gamut from casual Sunset Avenue visitors to long-time property owners.

The Sunset Avenue Walkway Project envisions a 10-foot-wide promenade running north from the intersection of Sunset and Bell, around the dogleg at Caspers Street, and joining the existing sidewalk at Caspers and Third.

How the Sunset Avenue Walkway Project could look.

The Sunset Avenue Walkway Project envisions a 10-foot-wide promenade on the west side of the street beginning at Bell Street on the south, running north along the bank above the Burlington Northern tracks, rounding the dogleg at Caspers Street, and finally meeting the existing sidewalk at Third and Caspers. The project design is being funded by a $159,000 federal grant, and the city is soliciting public input to help shape and direct the design process as it moves forward. See a flyer with artist’s conception here.

The meeting began with a PowerPoint presentation describing the project and bringing the audience up to date on how it developed, current status and next steps. Williams stressed that the project has three major goals: maximize view access, improve safety and enhance accessibility.

Next Connie Record of McCloud-Record, the design firm hired by the city for this project, explained details of the proposal including how the walkway would look, what kinds of materials would be used and provisions for parking. As currently conceived, parking spaces would be reduced from the current 54 to 43, but Record stressed that “this could change” based on public input.

Jeanie McConnell and Carreen Rubenkonig show off their comments, written directly on the project map provided by the city to each subgroup.

Jeanie McConnell and Carreen Rubenkonig show off their comments, written directly on the project map provided by the city to each subgroup.

The group then broke into subgroups to discuss project details and give input, each moderated by a city staff person familiar with the project. While some in the audience voiced pointed objections to this approach, advocating instead for a town hall style question-and-answer session, city staff opted for the subgroup approach as the best way to get the maximum input within the meeting’s time constraints.

Each table was provided with a large map of the proposed project, and the city staffer solicited participants’ input on a range of topics from parking to lighting to safely meshing to the range of uses proposed for the walkway (e.g., pedestrians, bicycles, skateboards, runners).

The meeting concluded with pages of notes from each table, many made directly on the map provided. These will be compiled by project staff and used to shape and refine the next iteration of the project design.

“We had some great dialog at the tables,” said project manager Ed Sibrel. “While there’s a wide range of opinions and views, I felt an overall consensus that this is a good project that will be made better with public input.”

If you have opinions or input on the Sunset Avenue Walkway Project, the City of Edmonds wants to hear from you. Send your comments to Sibrel at ed.sibrel@edmondswa.gov, or call him directly at 425-771-0220.

– Story and photos by Larry Vogel

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18 Comments

  1. I understand from one of the landscape architects from the company that did those landscape architecture maps/drawings that we looked at last night that these landscape drawings/maps were done pre-survey, and were not the drawings submitted with the applications. I would like to see what those drawings had on them and can’t understand why the city would show us drawings that could change a considerable amount as they are pre-survey landscape architecture drawings.

    I would also like to see the applications submitted for the federal grants (with rules, regulations and laws in regards to applying for grants) and how this project fits those grants. From the information the city has given us, at least one of those grants does not appear to be for this project as far as what the grant is for.

    I think a lot of the people at the meeting would also like to hear from Burlington Northern in regards to the time period our city would rent the land from them. It seems crazy to me to spend a couple million dollars with a large section of the land not even OWNED by the City of Edmonds………One would never think of renting a house and then building on an extra room and some day the landlord taking the house back. Two million dollars is a lot of money for a project that extends on land not owned by the city.

    We have walked here EVERY day (and many days 2-3 times to look at the view) and never ever found Sunset to be unsafe, too many people, too many, cars, speeding cars, accidents waiting to happen, etc. and were quite frankly surprised by the city saying this area was unsafe. I would like to see the statistics that back up this claim by the city.

    When I look at the landscape architecture rendering above here, this is not even typical for that area, as the west side land (grass) showing is the widest area of land only at the top north end. There is so little land before the embankment drop the rest of the way, it is impossible to envision bicyclists (including little kids on bikes), walkers, wheelchair people, navigating safely without somebody just going over the edge (like the child on the bicycle in the picture). I believe that Burlington Northern would consider this a liability and place a barrier/fence/wall at that far west part at the top of that steep embankment. A liability for the city also.

  2. Tere – as you are interested in grant application information, the following link may be of interest:

    http://www.psrc.org/assets/9991/Edmonds-SunsetAvenueOverlookTrail-WEB.pdf

    If you don’t want to click on the link, just do an internet search for PSRC Edmonds Sunset Avenue Overlook Trail and it should be easy to find.

    Comments related to COMMUNITY SUPPORT of the Sunset Avenue Overlook Trail project are found on Page 6 & 7 of the document. It is stated that response has been overwhelmingly positive.

    On December 13, 2013, I requested more information, including information related to the April 11, 2012 meeting during which public comment was received. I’ve asked the City for the related April 11, 2012 Meeting Minutes as well as the Public Notification of the April 11, 2012 Meeting.

    I’ve also requested the April, 2012 Sunset Avenue Overlook Public Survey results.

    I’ve been told that the anticipated response date for my request is January 6, 2014.

  3. It looks like the $159,000 grant came from the US Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) – Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program.

  4. Yes, we have seen the “overwhelmingly positive”, and we have not found that to be true ……nor a large part of the information given out regarding this project or not given out. ……I really don’t know how people could actually do a survey at this point. …..I’m assuming the “survey” thing has something that’s called for in the grant…..I don’t know. ……Nobody around here even KNEW about this in 2012, so I have no idea….We live right around the corner on 2nd and saw NO SURVEY QUESTIONAIRE, NO INFORMATION, and we’re usually up on what’s happening in our immediate vicinity. The consensus around here seems to be that if you guys want to do something, you just move ahead. That is why a lot of people are angry at the Edmonds government. …..THAT is why people don’t want to pay any more money to this government because it just does whatever it wants, and the citizens are usually asked after the fact.

  5. It isn’t an “Edmonds Kind-of-day” unless folks have something to complain about! Good or bad we can always count on bloggers like me to weigh in. I know that since Mayor Dave has been in office, his #1 priority is to have the Edmonds City Government be as transparent as possible. The City has done a great job on advertising it’s agenda and all citizens have a chance to weigh-in. All cities rely on State and Federal level funding to help with budgetory items. Survey’s are an important tool for the City to gage how the citizenry cares about a project and wheter or not it is feasible. An opportunity for a survey should never be passed up. I think that if the City is ” doing what they want to do” then it is up to the citizens to vote the City government workers out of office. There is no law saying that City councilmen/women have the right to be in office- only that they were voted in by the citizens of Edmonds. If you think that there is callusion/fraud you can write the United Staes Justice Dept or contact Eric Holder at the Justice Dept. in Washington D.C. If you don’t want to go that far then you can file a complaint with the Washington State Attorneys General office in Olympia. Better yet, take it to a City Council meeting and voice your opinion. This way it becomes part of a written record. Whew!!!That was a mouth full! You see how things can spiral out of control when you feel that you have been left out of a process. To the City Council President, I hope you read this message and understand that all citizens need to be given an opportunity to at least voice their opinions and to possibly vote on major decisions the could cost the taxpayer of Edmonds money. On a brighter note, I need to tell you about Edmonds Automotive. I recently took my 2002 Kia Rio Cinco in for some service. I scheduled my car to have a new clutch installed. It was going to cost nearly $700.00. Well, to make along story short, my car did not need a clutch. It needed a “shifter kit”. It was under $300.00 total. There are honest businesses out there and there are less than savory businesses as well that would have charged me for a new clutch and a shifter kit-even though my car did not need a clutch. So, during this Christmas Holiday Season, take a moment to think about all the good around you. Edmonds Automotive certainly will have my automive businees for the future. I would hope that all of the citizens of Edmonds would take a moment to have some kind words or thoughts about our City Government, City council, and our Mayor. No body is perfect except for the “Perfect One” who lives inside us. Let us all strive to work harder in the coming new year to make our decisions count for something. I hope all of you have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  6. I’ve received a response from the City related to my request for the April, 2012 Sunset Avenue Overlook Public Survey results. The City has provided me a total of four responses. I’ll email Teresa and ask her if she will post the related PDF file.

    The related webpage is still available on the City’s website at the following link:
    http://edmondswa.gov/government/departments/public-works-home/pw-admin-engineering-division-menu/sunset-avenue-public-survey.html

    At the bottom, it states that “We have received an overwhelming response and truly appreciate and value Citizen input.”

  7. Here’s the PDF: http://myedmondsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Sunset-Survey-Results.pdf

  8. After reading Comments related to COMMUNITY SUPPORT of the Sunset Avenue Overlook Trail project on Page 6 & 7 of the document found at:

    http://www.psrc.org/assets/9991/Edmonds-SunsetAvenueOverlookTrail-WEB.pdf , I emailed the City the following Request:

    I’ve seen mention of a Meeting held on April 11, 2012 during which public comment was received. Can you please provide more information related to this Meeting and tell me where I can find the related Meeting Minutes? Please include the related Public Notification of the April 11, 2012 Meeting.

    The City originally stated that the anticipated response date for my request was January 6, 2014. That has now been changed to the following:

    “Concerning records regarding an April 11, 2012 meeting in which public comment was received, the City Clerk’s Office was unable to locate records of a public hearing regarding the Sunset Outlook Trail within the April, 2012 timeframe. Our belief is that it may have been a sub-committee or board that conducted the meeting. The Engineering Department is further researching this item and requires a response-date extension to January 17, 2014.”

  9. I submitted a lengthy comment on-line 24 hours before the deadline regarding the Sunset Avenue Overlook as it was originally called. Seems that my comments have gone missing. None of my comments were positive raising all the same concerns that most of us living on Sunset Avenue have that the road is just not wide enough to do what is proposed.

  10. Thalia – I will email the City tonight and ask if they have your comments and somehow didn’t include them in their response to my request. I’ll post the City’s response to my question when received.

    Related to this topic, an open public comment was made during Tuesday night’s City Council Meeting that I find worrisome. A Sunset Avenue property owner mentioned that roughly 80% of the sidewalk in front of his lot is actually on his private property. Hence, the City has full knowledge that at least part of a sidewalk used by the public is on private property. I wonder what the City’s current responsibilities are related to the public’s use of this citizen’s (and possibly other’s) private property.

    Furthermore, I wonder if the City is considering acquiring via negotiation or condemnation additional right-of-way along Sunset Avenue. If so, I hope the City will let these property owners know immediately.

  11. Thalia – -Just so you know, the following was represented to the Puget Sound Regional Council:
    [Source: Comments related to COMMUNITY SUPPORT of the Sunset Avenue Overlook Trail project on Page 6 & 7 of the document found at: http://www.psrc.org/assets/9991/Edmonds-SunsetAvenueOverlookTrail-WEB.pdf ]

    “Public comment was received at a meeting held on April 11, 2012, and followed up with written survey results that were collected April 25, 2012. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with all respondents supporting the concept of a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian facility in this corridor.”

    Later in the document, it also stated: “To date, there have been no negative comments recorded.”

  12. On January 6, 2014, the City of Edmonds represented the following to me:

    “Attached are the Sunset Avenue Overlook Public Survey results.”

    Now the City has changed its representation. Yesterday, January 10, 2014, the City of Edmonds represented the following to me:

    “In response to your question below regarding whether or not the City has Ms. Moutsanides’ survey comments regarding the Sunset Avenue project, the answer is yes, we do.”

    “You have not yet been provided 100-percent of the Sunset Avenue Overlook public survey results. Engineering anticipates further survey documentation will be available January 17, 2014. I will contact you if it becomes available sooner.”

    I’m not sure why the City failed to provide me Ms. Moutsanides’ survey and related comments yesterday.

    I’m not sure why the City failed to provide me all the Sunset Avenue Overlook Public Survey results on January 6th.

    It will be interesting, to say the least, to see if any negative comments were recorded.

  13. City Council Committee Meetings
    January 14, 2014 6:00 p.m.
    Parks, Planning & Public Works Committee
    Meeting Location: Council Chamber

    Includes: Discussion and potential action regarding modifying or terminating Sunset Walkway Project

    This meeting is open to the public. There is time set aside for Public comment at the end of the related committee meeting. Public comments are preceded by 9 agenda items, one of which is the Sunset Walkway Project agenda item.

  14. Ken: I hope the city is talking about the survey comment I wrote on-line last year, not the one I turned in last week.

  15. Thanks for the note Thalia. I’ve been very clear with the City that I am requesting information from April of 2012. I’ll post as soon as possible after I have been provided your survey and related comments.

  16. I’ve been provided additional survey results. I will email Teresa the related PDF and ask her to post. There are several negative comments, so I don’t know why the City of Edmonds would have represented to the Puget Sound Regional Council that “To date, there have been no negative comments recorded.”

    The City also told the Puget Sound Regional Council that “Public comment was received at a meeting held on April 11, 2012″. I’ve requested information related to this meeting and today the City informed me that “No responsive records were found regarding such a meeting.”

  17. As the money for the grant has come from the Federal Highway Administration, I don’t believe this would be considered valid for the information that was given on the application of the grant which I have just read, Project Identification and Description.

    There are omissions and errors on the application and non disclosures. ***** I believe this would be considered Federal fraud for obtaining the grant money without answering all the questions correctly and honestly . The biggest ommission would be NOT disclosing that this Federal grant money is being used on land that is NOT owned by the applicant of the grant, the City Of Edmonds. This is very clear on the application that this was not disclosed………by ommission. Other untruths are on this application also. I don’t think the Feds will think this is ok and it is very CLEAR when you read about the criteria for obtaining Federal grant money.

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