Low-key guy making waves with Waterfront Connector opposition

Edmonds resident Cam Tripp stands in front of the section of beach that would be covered by the proposed waterfront connector. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

The website saveedmondsbeach.com has been up a little more than a week, but it’s fast become a rallying point for those in the community who don’t like the proposed Edmonds Waterfront Connector project. It’s bringing together folks who feel the project is too expensive with others who see it as unsightly, a detriment to the beach environment, and  simply the wrong solution to address waterfront access concerns during an emergency.

Linked to the website is a change.org petition asking the mayor and council to “halt the project and make a better choice.” It has already gained more than 1,500 signatures.

The driving force behind this is Edmonds resident Cam Tripp, who lives a short walk from the beach with his wife and two kids. He grew up in Tiburon, Calif., where his parents were active in local environmental issues, and upon moving here in 2011 he found an early resonance with Edmonds’ deeply-held environmental values. “It’s one of the things that makes me feel so good about living here,” he explains.

Soft-spoken and bookish, Tripp doesn’t exactly fit the image of an activist.

“I’m really not a political kind of guy, and to be honest doing something like this is more than a bit out of my comfort zone,” he said. “But I’ve walked the beach with my kids since they were little, and it’s been a big part of their growing up. When I heard about the connector project, I did my homework and looked at the all the various reports and documentation.

Artist’s rendering of the proposed waterfront connector that would provide a one-lane emergency access roadway across the tracks between Edmonds Street and Brackett’s Landing.

“I was appalled at the final design that would plunk this huge, expensive, ugly and (in my opinion) unnecessary concrete structure along the beach between Edmonds Street and Brackett’s Landing. You have to choose your battles, I guess, and this one just hit my tipping point,” he said.

After reading the background materials available on the city Waterfront Connector website, Tripp said it became clear to him that better, less expensive, less environmentally destructive options were available, which to him make more sense.

“The mid-block option of a footbridge across the tracks from the railroad station to the current senior center site solves the access problem, and has no impact on our beach environment, all at less than a quarter of the cost of the connector,” he explains. “We save the environment, we save money and we solve the problem. Sound like a win-win-win to me!”

Tripp goes out of his way to stress that the effort to find a better solution is not about him.

“I’m not interested in taking credit for this or being the face of the effort to move to a less expensive, more environmentally-friendly solution,” he said. “It’s about our community and our values; it’s not about Cam. I just really love this place, and I feel this project is wrong in so many ways. Doing this is a way I can give back to my community.”

In addition to the main website, Tripp has put up a Save Edmonds Beach Facebook page, Twitter feed and Instagram page.

— By Larry Vogel

32 Replies to “Low-key guy making waves with Waterfront Connector opposition”

  1. Exactly! If the Mayor was worried about public safety he and the council (except Mike Nelson) would have voted against downsizing the number of Firefighters and Paramedics in the city. These responders benefit all residents of the city. Having the ability to access the other side of the tracks in an emergency is crucial, but there are other options to do that.

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  2. Seems that there needs to be some coordination between this “low-key guy” and the folks displaying the sign for the website for No Sunset Connector : https://nosunsetconnector.com/
    It would be a shame to split an effort against the connector.

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  3. In addition to the pedestrian overpass and electric emergency transport cart, consider the feasibility of stationing an Aid Car on the West side of the tracks near the overpass for quik foot access by the fire dedartment to respond to like normal. How much longer wouild it add to resonce time?

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  4. Another location would be at Pine St on the Union Oil access road. out of sight and saves the beach.

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    1. That’s the route that was used in Wa State Ferries Edmonds Crossing proposal that’s now in limbo. It needs to be speedily resurrected before a prime residential and view area is all messed up.

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  5. Putting a concrete monstrosity over the beach, next to the marine sanctuary sounds like a disaster for the environment. I have been trying to find out about an environmental impact statement for this project but am told that they can’t do the study until the engineering plans are complete. That means MUCH more time and money put into this project before we even have the info to evaluate it.

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  6. Actually we asked people to identify issues for Edmonds during our Strategic Planning Process. There we numerous pubic sessions involving more than 2500 people. We then polled folks with a sample size twice the number needed to produce results in the +- 5% range. More than 50% gave a “moderate to high” ranking for the stated issue, “Work to establish an emergency and everyday access over the railroad track and ferry terminal lanes for pedestrians bound for shoreline and water front attractions from Harbor Square, Salish Crossing, and Downtown.” So people did say they wanted emergency access over the tracks. The concept of getting over the tracks was widely accepted. What followed was the public process to explore alternatives. While the current plan is debated we should remember the origin of a over the tracks process did originate from the people and gains good public support at the time.

    Council voted twice for the elements in the SAP and while much has been accomplished their are many important and widely supported issues that need to be addressed.

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    1. If the SAP spells out that Edmonds should build an outpost on Mars. Well then if it is in the SAP, I guess there is no option, we must go to Mars.
      Oh, so after someone places a “Want” into the SAP, then it MUST be done..
      Sorry, not one micro-gram of logic in that statement.

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  7. It would appear that you didn’t ask people how they wanted to pay for this and what it should look like? Correct me if I’m wrong on this. Might have been a critical oversight on part of planning groups. “Wouldn’t this be nice?” is a different question than ” do we really need this, what will it look like and how do we pay for it?”

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    1. Clinton,

      You are absolutely correct that there was nothing about what the access would look like or how much it would cost. There was also nothing about where it would be located. Darrol has quoted, above, that those involved in the public process supported “emergency and everyday access”. Nothing was said about support for off-loading ferry traffic on the “emergency” access. What kind of emergency would require vehicles on the ferry to use the emergency access? All of the emergencies that I can think of would require an urgent focus on getting people off the ferry, not the vehicles.

      The initial idea for this access was for pedestrians and emergency vehicles, only. The connector is meant to solve WSDOT’s problem of off loading of the vehicles as well, in the event of a train blockage. This is also why the structure is larger than originally envisioned, to hold the weight of hundreds of cars if a train was blocking the Main Street intersection.

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      1. There is no overriding need, or urgency for this bridge, regardless of the fabricated hysteria spearheaded by Dave Earling.

        Dave Earling’s professed concern for the Citizens of Edmonds, shines brightly when it is conveniently needed for the outcome Dave Earling, desires and demands. So Funny, Dave Earling had no concern for the Citizens in Edmonds when they installed lighting into the street as “Art”, in direct violation of the Federal Highway Manual (MUTCD), he showed no concern for public safety then, not even a whimper of concern. Watch Dave Earling’s actions, not what Dave Earling implores. Street lighting is not allowed, as it may confuse drivers, you can read the complexity of putting in “legal” directional lighting into the road at: https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/interpretations/3_230.htm Even the manufacturer of the lights never promoted the lights to ever be installed into anything other than sidewalks. So, the concern expressed by Dave Earling, regarding public safety is just a ploy, to get what Dave Earling wants done, at Edmonds Taxpayers expense. Edmonds Taxpayers will get the bill for Earling’s bridge, with a financial cost overrun exposure that could be as high as $ 30,000,000.00, which will be placed directly onto your property taxes.

        Edmonds Taxpayers, you are being asked to fund a bridge for the Washington State Ferry System, and Sound Transit, that is all.

        There is not one case of a person needing life saving egress from the beach area, when it could not be facilitated due to a blockage.

        Dave Earling cites “tens of thousands of people”, almost comical. Obviously Dave Earling thinks Taxpayers in Edmonds are stupid.

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        1. While I agree with your points and am another Edmonds citizen (since 1961) who DOES NOT WANT the connector, I think I’d be more convinced without the ad hominem attacks on Mayor Earling. We all have pet projects, but we can discuss them calmly and with less drama if we avoid personalities when we disagree.

          Personally, I think the connector is hideous, too expensive (by how far would it overrun estimates?), anti-environmental, unnecessary, and a would be a bleeding wound in Edmonds’ side that would reduce beach use, spoil the view, and drive tourists away in droves.

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  8. Hi Pat, I am hoping you are agreeing to not only the idea that there has been substantial citizen input to the idea of over the track access, but also to the idea that the SAP has several important and widely supported issues that also need to be addressed.

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  9. Not sure what survey is being referenced but this one (http://www.edmondswa.gov/images/COE/Government/Departments/Economic_Development/Strategic_plan/results_survey_adult.pdf) revealed that 68% rated preserving beach and shoreline access as high or very high (page 7). The concrete waterfront connector on Sunset Beach would greatly deter beach access.

    Further, I am curious how an extension of Edmonds Street facilitates everyday pedestrian access to shoreline and waterfront attractions from Harbor Square, Salish Crossing and Downtown better than a midblock overpass or elevated extension of Dayton Ave.?

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    1. I followed the link. The question was “How would you rate existing parks and rec facilities and opportunities in Edmonds” with “Beach and Shoreline Access” being one of the items there to rate. The total is 78% who would say it is important or very important. I think Darrol and Richard are using the same data as support and thinking it means something different than the other does.

      Frankly I don’t know who is right; I can see how it could mean access/ use of all the beaches and shoreline that we have, but I can also see how it could have meant that it was a priority to have easy access to get over to the other side of the train tracks where the beach and shoreline is…. One interpretation supports not improving access and the other supports it.

      It is possible that the survey responders didn’t have the same definition of “Beach and Shoreline Access” either). For this reason, we may be realizing that this is a bad survey question and should not be getting relied on by either side of the debate.

      But it does seem clear that we love the waterfront.

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      1. The only point that I was making by sighting the original question of getting across the track was that folks thought it should be considered. At the time WDOT was willing to give away its property to anyone willing to put up a ped crossing. The property was worth $2m and the cost for an over pass was the same. Also at the same time was the idea of moving the ferry to the south creating a vehicle overpass over the tracks. These two ideas would have fulfilled the original concept of both ped and emergency vehicle access.

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  10. As funding planning, design, environmental studies, and of course the idea of a “do over” is floated time will go on and on and no real increase capability of emergency access will be provided. If all goes well in this entire process we will be 3yrs? away from provided added access.

    Regardless of the outcome and timing of all the above we could take a page out of how Shoreline developed their overpass. They already had an old timber based overpass and wanted to replace it.
    With the help of BNSF they constructed a standard crossing at grade to provide temporary access while the new overpass was constructed. I recall the entire project for removing the old, building the new, and adding and removing the temporary at grade crossing was around $4m.

    We could work with the state and BNSF and put a temporary at grade crossing across the tracks extending Union Oil Road across the tracks and connecting with the city road by the entrance to the dog park. This crossing would be substantially south of the existing crossings to increase the chances of no blockage by a stalled train. If we were still concern about a blockage we could work on one of those military style bridges that would go over the tracks.

    This would be a very inexpensive way to provide interim emergency access while we wait for the final details of constructing a final solution.

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  11. For anyone concerned about the Connector, the Parks and Public Works committee meeting on Tuesday, June 11 will be discussing the following:

    – A supplemental agreement with Parametrix for $2.3 million for the Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector

    Committee meetings are open to the public, but public comments are not taken. You can send comments to council@edmondswa.gov.

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  12. Thank you to Joan Bloom for pointing out that the committee meeting will discuss spending more money on the Connector plan. The article headline led me to believe that dogs in parks was the only issue being discussed at the meeting, so I didn’t scroll down to discover that the connector was also on the agenda.
    It seems surprising that the city seems so determined to go ahead and commit more funds to the project when there is so much opposition. Have you seen the petition with nearly 5000 names so far?

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  13. Good Morning Mr. Haug,

    Thank you very much for the information. Perhaps you can answer this. If the WSDOT was willing to give up the property in exchange for a pedestrian bridge at significantly lower cost why was that option abandoned in favor of a 27 million project in the middle of a beach and pristine neighborhood? Who was steering the ship on this process?

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    1. That is not the correct question for the timing of what was on the table at the time. What was on the table back then was you can have the property but you must bill and ped overpass. The current plan that was years in the making was not even started with all the public processes that occurred. So the real question for the times would have been. Does anyone want to take over the lot and build and overpass? You also have to look at whatelse was in play at the time. I would have to dust off the timings issues but Salish Landing was still the Antique Mall and the owner had plans to build buildings over the 35ft height limit and that plan was not gaining any tractions. So the potential use of the DOT land was iffy at best.

      Hope that sheds some light on the question at hand at that time.

      Just a comment about the implied question in the public process. The public process was very robust with lots of meeting, design proposals, cost estimates and alternatives. Citizens should have been more vocal at the time of this work and we would have had a more robust process.

      You are welcome to attack the messenger if you want but I am only trying to help with background info to help us all.

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      1. Thanks Mike, I am always willing to answer based on what I know. I thought the answer put more light on how the sequence of events occurred. I would be curious to know if what you thought of the answer? I think it is important for this issues and others to try to understand the sequence of events, what we knew and when did we know it. Do you still think the question you asked is expressed in a way to get as much information as we can about how we make decisions in town?

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  14. Sorry, I did not have that intention. Know you are just trying to help. Just thought the question was a fair one to ask and not directed at you personally. Don’t operate that way.

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  15. I’m sure someone has mentioned this already, but is there not a technological solution for this? Can we not integrate communications between the railroad users and the emergency services so that if a call comes in with an emergency at the waterfront, rail traffic will be stopped temporarily if it’s expected arrival at the crossings is going to interfere with the safe passage of emergency vehicles to the scene?

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  16. I honestly wonder what makes Earling get out of bed in the morning. Edmonds need Joan Bloom back on the Council, or as a mayor.

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  17. i think there is a need for EMS services to be able to access the area if a train is blocking the crossings. However i think there are better options then the connector. Such as someone awhile back mentioned a military vehicle that could create a bridge if needed for an emergency. Or someone mentioned a foot bridge with a golf cart, maybe that paired with a EMS vehicle that is stored or parked on the water side so all that in an emergency you just need to use the footbridge and golf cart to “hop” the tracks! Or what about a tiny bridge like the one north of richmond beach for the residents that live across the tracks? there are so many options it seems silly to select this eyesore that will be super costly and impact the environment. I hope that the groups against it are researching alternatives since there is a need to EMS response on the water side but how thats accomplished should be voted on by the citizens!

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