The scope of a proposed downtown Edmonds parking study and what the next steps should be for the Willow Creek Daylighting Project were major topics of conversation during the Edmonds City Council’s Parks and Public Works Committee meeting Tuesday night.
Both items will appear before the full council for additional discussion at a later date.
In talking about the parking study, Public Works Director Phil Williams described the city’s Aug. 8 meeting aimed at involving the public in helping to develop the study’s scope. A total of 41 people attended the meeting and 731 people filled out an online survey on the topic, Williams said.
Councilmember Dave Teitzel, who attended the Aug. 8 meeting, reiterated that the gathering was designed to reach the public early in the planning process prior to signing a contract with a consultant, “and hear what the community has to say.”
The city also committed during that meeting to coming back to community members later to report on parking data collected, Williams added. The last time the city studied downtown parking was in 2003.
The proposed professional services agreement with Framework will include “gathering data, inventorying existing parking spaces, looking at demand and usage, looking at possible solutions to potentially increase capacity or manage better the capacity we do have, and then make recommendations,” Williams said.
The city council had approved, as part of its 2019 budget, $40,000 to conduct a downtown parking study but the scope of work proposed by Framework would cost $93,000. There will also be $20,000 in staff time required to oversee the work, for a total of $113,000. So staff is requesting an additional $73,000 from the general fund to cover the difference, Williams said.
Councilmember Kristiana Johnson said she wanted to ensure that parking needs for both the new Civic Park and the Edmonds Waterfront Center, which is replacing the Edmonds Senior Center, would be included in the study. She also said that while she couldn’t speak for the entire council on the matter, she wasn’t interested in looking at a downtown parking garage as an option.
Teitzel assured Johnson that the study area — which is bordered by Caspers Street to the north, 9th Avenue to the east, Pine Street to the south and the waterfront to the west — will include both Civic Park and the Waterfront Center. And he added he believes it’s important to address the parking problem “incrementally. How do we more efficiently use what we have, once we’ve exhausted those options what more do we have to do to enhance the supply? It may include a parking garage or it may not.”
Johnson said she was hoping to find ways to narrow the scope to stay within the $40,000 budget, but Teitzel said he didn’t believe the city would get a quality study for that dollar amount. “I just hate to give it the short shrift and get a report that doesn’t really help us, and then we’ve wasted $40,000,” he said.
The committee agreed to forward the proposed parking study scope of work — and its higher price tag — to the full council for further consideration.
Regarding the matter of the Willow Creek daylighting project, the city has been working since 2012 with consultant Shannon & Wilson to develop pre-design information on plans to daylight — or open — the waterway. Willow Creek currently flows through the Edmonds Marsh, then enters a 1,600-foot piping system, to Puget Sound. Officials have said that the piping system prevents salmon from being able to return from Puget Sound to Willow Creek to spawn.
In past discussions with the council, city staff have acknowledged that the project has faced delays due to cleanup efforts on the nearby Unocal property — which the city needs to cross to complete the daylighting between the marsh and Puget Sound. Unocal’s cleanup — which involves removing contaminated water and soil vapor from its former fuel terminal — is taking longer than anticipated.
The goal of the latest Shannon & Wilson report is to present a hydraulic assessment of the channel alternatives for daylighting the creek, taking into account extreme tide conditions and sea level rise, Williams said.
However, both Councilmembers Johnson and Teitzel indicated they had some concerns about the revised report, which is scheduled to be presented to the full council during its Aug. 27 business meeting. For starters, both councilmembers said they were hesitant to move ahead with the report’s recommendations before the council sees the results of a city study of the Edmonds Marsh, which is being conducted by Windward Environmental. Results of that study, which is aimed at providing data to help evaluate the ecological functions of the marsh and its buffers, are expected within the next few weeks.
“It might be premature to approve or accept this until we have the other (Windward) report,” Johnson said.
Both Johnson and Teitzel also said they had questions about the channelization of the creek as indicated in the Shannon & Wilson report and wondered whether there might be better options.
Related to the report and its followup, the council committee also discussed a request for an additional $20,000 for Shannon & Wilson to cover costs associated with presenting the results to the council Aug. 27, as well as any follow-up questions and research that came out of that meeting. It was agreed to forward this request to the council consent agenda for its Aug. 20 meeting, so that the supplemental funding could be considered prior to Aug. 27.
Johnson and Teitzel also told Williams it would be important to ensure that both the Shannon & Wilson report and the Windward report would be available for the council’s review at the same time. If the Windward report isn’t ready by Aug. 27, then the Shannon & Wilson report presentation should be delayed until it is, the councilmembers agreed.
— By Teresa Wippel