The scope of work for the Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector Project design was discussed in great detail during the Edmonds City Council’s Parks, Planning and Public Works (PPP) Committee meeting Tuesday night.
The nearly-two-hour-long committee discussion followed a full two-and-a-half-hour business meeting that included 2018 budget presentations from several department directors, presentations from two finalists for the Edmonds Marsh baseline study and two public hearings — one on the city’s 2018 budget and one regarding a proposed 1 percent increase in property taxes and 1 percent increase in EMS taxes.
Council committee member Kristiana Johnson had myriad questions for Public Works Director Phil Williams about the scope of work for the connector project design, including how many public and stakeholder meetings will be involved, who will be attending, how comments will be recorded and how those will be reported back to the council.
Johnson also reiterated the importance of ensuring that a public meeting is held to review a report from consultant Parametrix on six feasible bridge options for the connector design. Another public meeting will be held after the consultant develops its final two alternatives for consideration.
The connector project is an overpass linking Sunset Avenue at Edmonds Street to Brackett’s Landing Park, providing an emergency, single-lane structure over the railroad tracks as an alternative to the at-grade rail crossings at Main and Dayton Streets. This approximately $29 million project will provide access for emergency vehicles, as well as ferry off-loading or on-loading with the assistance of traffic control officers when train breakdowns block the two crossings.
The design process goal, according to supporting documentation attached to the committee agenda, is for the city and stakeholders to identify the project’s “visual and functional requirements, opportunities, issues, constraints and goals.”
The state Legislature earlier this year approved initial project funding of $700,000 for continued design, environmental and permitting work for the waterfront connector project. The project is also receiving $295,000 in matching local funds from the City of Edmonds, the Port of Edmonds, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF), Sound Transit and Community Transit. The city still must secure grant funding for the $29 million overpass construction.
Johnson and Council Committee Chair Neil Tibbott agreed that the council could likely find design phase budget money if additional public meetings on the connector project, in addition to the two included in the scope of work, were necessary.
“If we need extra public involvement…it’s small potatoes next to all this,” Johnson said, pointing to dozens of other meetings outlined in the proposal that involved separate stakeholders in the project, including public agencies and the BNSF Railroad.
The connector project proposal followed a 14-month alternatives study spearheaded by the Mayor’s Waterfront Access Advisory Task Force, which was followed by four public meetings before final recommendations were made.
Assuming that all requested changes can be incorporated in time, a proposal to authorize Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling to sign a professional services agreement with Parametrix will appear on the consent agenda during the next city council meeting.
In other agenda items, the council:
- Discussed a proposed ordinance for a 1 percent property tax levy of $10,378,930 and a 1 percent Emergency Medical Services property tax levy of $4,040,700. Under the increases, the owner of a home assessed at an “average” value in Edmonds of $474,800 would pay an additional $8.23 a year in 2018. You can see James’ presentation on the proposed increases here. The council held a public hearing on the increase although no one showed up to offer comment. Citizens will have a another chance at next week’s council meeting, when councilmembers will be asked to deliberate and vote on the proposals.
- Heard 2018 budget presentations from several city departments. A public hearing was also held on the proposed city budget and one citizen offered testimony. Joe Scordino, a retired fisheries biologist who serves as advisor for Edmonds-Woodway High School’s Students Saving Salmon Club, thanked the city council for continuing to fund the club’s work to improve local stream water quality and salmon habitat. Additional public comment on the budget will be taken during another public hearing Nov. 21.
- Listened to Mayor Earling proclaim Nov. 25 — the Saturday after Thanksgiving — as Small Business Saturday in Edmonds. Local small business representatives — including Downtown Edmonds Merchants Association President Tracy Felix, Edmonds Downtown Alliance Board Member Kimberly Koenig and Edmonds Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Greg Urban — accepted the proclamation from Earling. Felix thanked the city council for its support, noting that “it is small business that drives the local economy.” She suggested that Small Business Saturday could be extended throughout the year if everyone would pick three businesses they care about and then spend $50 a month at one of them.
Earling began the meeting by commenting on a recent situation at an Edmonds construction site, where two African American apprentice workers quit in late October after discovering a noose hanging from a beam. “I find this incident abhorrent, offensive and entirely beneath the expectations we have in our community,” the mayor said. “We simply cannot tolerate this kind of conduct in Edmonds.” Earling noted that the Edmonds Police Department is conducting a thorough investigation of the issue, “which continues to this date.”
— By Teresa Wippel