The burning question before the Edmonds City Council at its Tuesday, June 18 meeting: Whether it should fund the next phase of design for an overpass that would run from Edmonds Street to the beach, providing emergency access to the waterfront during train blockages.
Opposition to the proposed structure has been picking up steam in recent weeks, and a full house is expected to be on hand to make public comments and hear the discussion Tuesday night. In addition, a rally against the connector has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m., outside the council chambers at 5th and Bell.
The city has been working for three years on a plan to address emergency access to the waterfront when both the Main Street and Dayton Street at-grade rail crossings are blocked. This included a 14-month study by a task force of public officials and citizens that examined 51 different options to address the problem. The current waterfront connector concept was approved by the city council in 2017, and the city signed a contract with consultant TetraTech to begin developing a range of pre-design alternatives for it.
Three city councilmembers have voiced their opposition to the structure, and citizens have been raising questions regarding the aesthetics, cost and environmental impacts of the project on Brackett’s Landing beach, where the overpass would be built.
What’s before the council Tuesday night is a proposal to authorize the mayor to sign a contract with consultant Parametrix to begin Phase 2 to complete the 60 percent design, develop the environmental documents and prepare permit applications. Anticipated to be completed in 11 months, this work would cost $2.35 million, all of it funded by state grant money the city has already received.
Also on the agenda for Tuesday night is consideration of a draft ordinance that would change the role of the council in quasi-judicial decisions. The agenda item notes that the change reflects a desire expressed by the council in April “to retain its role in certain quasi-judicial decisions, but not for design review projects requiring a public hearing by the Architectural Design Board or for formal subdivisions and planned residential developments.”
And in a follow-up to what was discussed during the council’s April 11 Parks and Public Works Committee meeting, the full council will discuss two items:
– Proposed rule changes in city parks that would, among other things, make smoking and vaping illegal and also allow dogs in all parks as long as they are on a leash.
– A utility rate analysis and future adoption of an ordinance that would increase water, sewer and stormwater rates.
Prior to the 7 p.m. business meeting in council chambers, the council will hold a special meeting at 6:20 p.m. in the Jury Room for an executive session — closed to the public — regarding pending or potential litigation and to conduct candidate interviews for the Public Facilities District Board and the Edmonds Youth Commission.