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 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.
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 email@example.com, or call him directly at 425-771-0220.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel