In front of large contingent of local veterans, the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night unanimously approved a design proposal for a new Edmonds Veterans Plaza memorial to be built outside of the City’s Public Safety Complex — but not before acknowledging concerns that it could impact operation of the Edmonds Museum’s annual Garden Market.
Edmonds veterans speaking in favor of the proposal by Seattle-based architecture firm Site Workshop included Jim Blossey, commander of the Edmonds-based Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8870, who told the council the new memorial is about “honor, remembrance and sacrifice. All of us know veterans who have sacrificed, some who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
Vietnam Veteran Michael Reagan, best known for his work to sketch portraits of fallen soldiers, said it’s important for veterans to have a place to reflect on and remember their fallen comrades, noting it is “something that helps their healing.”
Fellow Vietnam Veteran Ron Clyborne noted that the design was unanimously chosen by a committee of veterans and community members after reviewing 12 proposals submitted during a design competition. “We look forward to the approval of this design that truly honors the men and women who have served,” he said.
However, Clyborne — a long-time civic and business leader — added that “the Veterans Plaza Committee is here to work with the museum in any way we can. The bottom line is, we want this to be a win-win for all and everyone in the community.”
The main area of concern, from the market organizers’ perspective, is the plaza design’s inclusion of a solid wall, incorporating a series of water features, that would highlight the five different branches of military service and include the names of local veterans. The wall would run the full length of the parking area facing Bell Street, and market organizers fear it would effectively shut off the plaza from the parking lot, which could disrupt Garden Market operations.
Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite assured the council that she would work with museum representatives to find a solution that supports the Garden Market, which operates from early May through mid-June in the Public Safety Complex parking lot at 250 5th Ave. N. (The Garden Market is a smaller version of the museum-sponsored Edmonds Farmers Market, which takes over after the Garden Market closes but runs on closed city streets — along 5th Avenue from Main at the fountain to Bell and east up Bell Street around Centennial Plaza.)
One idea would be to move the Garden Market from the parking lot to the Bell Street triangle area located to the south. Hite noted that the city in the past has not favored the idea of closing Bell Street for the Garden Market, which is why the smaller market has been limited to the Public Safety Complex parking lot. However, both Hite and market representatives said that using Bell Street could be a workable option if the location is adequate for what the museum needs — something that will be determined after measuring the existing and proposed spaces.
Also speaking during the presentation was Site Workshop landscape architect Brian Bishop, who said his firm’s goal in designing the project was “to provide a simple and timeless design that is going to be embraced by the community.” In addition to the memorial wall and water feature (which will use recirculated water), the design includes a memorial garden and individual “seating cubes” to provide “an opportunity for pause and rest,” Bishop explained.
The estimated cost of the Veterans Plaza project is $395,405, nearly all of it to be funded through private donations — although Hite said the committee has asked Site Workshop to identify areas for cost savings, such as possibly using lower-cost materials. The City Council approved $10,000 in the 2015 City of Edmonds budget to start the site design.
The council also:
– held a public hearing on the Draft Land Use Element for the city’s 2015 Comprehensive Plan Update, although no one signed up to speak.
– unanimously approved a proposal for installing an ATM machine outside of City Hall.
– approved by a 4-0 vote, with Councilmember Joan Bloom abstaining and Councilmember Lora Petso absent, the final plat for Shaw Lane development located at 8620 218th St. S.W. Bloom — a driving force behind the establishment of the City’s Tree Board — abstained from voting after asking numerous questions about why trees weren’t retained on the property. City Attorney Jeff Taraday noted that the tree retention question was not within the scope of the council’s decision to approve the plat, since preliminary plat approval had already been granted by the City Hearing Examiner — and suggested that the issue be taken up with the Hearing Examiner during his annual review or during future contract negotiations.