Council closer to approving parks plan, OKs contract for Perrinville Creek restoration

The playground at Mathay Ballinger Park. (Photo courtesy City of Edmonds)

After passing three amendments aimed at improving parks and recreation amenities in Edmonds’ Lake Ballinger neighborhood, the Edmonds City Council agreed Tuesday night to place the city’s Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Plan on the council’s June 21 consent agenda for approval.

The PROS plan is a six-year guide for managing city’s parks, open space, trails and recreation opportunities. On Tuesday night, Parks, Recreation, Cultural Services and Human Services Director Angie Feser presented proposed changes to the draft plan that were aimed at addressing concerns expressed by councilmembers who wanted the plan to undergo further review and comment.

The changes, which were developed by Feser and a consultant based on earlier council direction, focused on Chapter 9 of the PROS Plan, regarding capital planning and implementation. (You can see the document here.) Feser explained that she used as a starting point a list of possible revisions supplied by Council President Vivian Olson, which had been based on numerous public comments received about the PROS Plan.

“They were all considered,” Feser said of Olson’s suggested revisions. “Some were incorporated, some were not, some were modified and incorporated. I considered that as a piece of input and feedback from the council, just as emails or comments that I received from other councilmembers.”

Councilmember Susan Paine expressed concern that the list “did not go through a more public vetting.” Councilmember Laura Johnson agreed, noting that the original PROS Plan public involvement process included several community engagement efforts in multiple languages and “was transparent and we knew where it came from.”

“We don’t have that public process or that understanding of where did this (list of suggestions) come from,” she added.

Olson said the list she provided reflected community feedback that the original draft PROS Plan needed a stronger emphasis on environmental protection. “I feel good about this change and that input by council, and I would hope that my fellow councilmembers would as well,” she said. “I thought the process honored the citizen input.”

The PROS Plan draft also focuses on providing parks and recreation amenities to the previously neglected neighborhoods in South Edmonds and the Highway 99/Lake Ballinger areas. Councilmember Will Chen, who lives near Lake Ballinger, asked that maintenance considerations being prioritized for water access on the Edmonds side of the lake, a narrow strip of grass and mud that features one broken bench for those who want to fish there. Chen added he would also like to see a fishing pier installed on the Edmonds side, in the spirit of the PROS Plan’s emphasis on equity for underserved neighborhoods.

Feser noted that figuring out the best location for such a pier, and the associated shoreline permitting issues, would take time to sort out. One option could be to work with the City of Mountlake Terrace to coordinate access at the west side of Ballinger Park, which is owned by Mountlake Terrace but borders Edmonds. In the end, the council unanimously approved an amendment to work with the City of Mountlake Terrace to explore recreational opportunities on the Edmonds side of Lake Ballinger.

Laura Johnson then proposed two more initiatives for the neighborhood. The first was to explore the options for acquiring property to create a satellite community center in the Lake Ballinger/South Edmonds area. That passed by a 4-3 vote (Councilmembers Chen, Diane Buckshnis and Kristiana Johnson opposed) The second was to ensure that replacement of play structures at Mathay Ballinger Park — the neighborhood’s only park — was the city’s top priority for play equipment upgrades. That passed 6-1, with Kristiana Johnson opposed.

The council — which had voted to extend its meeting to 10:30 p.m. — voted 5-2 at 10:29 p.m. to place the PROS Plan on next week’s consent agenda for final approval. Voting against were Councilmembers Buckshnis and Laura Johnson.

In other business Tuesday night, the council approved a contract with Environmental Science Associates (ESA) for $909,919 aimed at developing a plan to control flooding on Perrinville Creek between Talbot Road and Puget Sound. Heavy rains and sediment washed out the stream several times in December 2020 and January 2021. A city diversion dam failed, pushing water over Talbot Road and flooding three properties.

The plan is to design a new interim stream bed route for lower Perrinville Creek, with much larger culvert openings, while a final plan is completed. Three new stream configurations have been proposed to allow the creek to handle the water and not affect spawning salmon.

Acting Public Works Director Rob English noted that $100,000 of the contract will cover the interim solution, while the remainder will pay for 60% design of a long-term plan to address flooding. The money for this contract is coming from Edmonds’ allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, but the staff noted Tuesday they plan to seek grant funding for the additional work, once a final solution is developed.

The council also:

– Received the Edmonds Youth Commission’s annual report, including a tribute to its seven graduating seniors.

– Approved a resolution condemning gun violence and racial hatred.

– Confirmed as part of its consent agenda the appointment of three Edmonds board and commission applicants: Sam Spencer for the Historic Preservation Commission, Yuri Nishiyama for the Sister City Commission, and Gillian Young for the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee.

Two additional agenda items — regarding the tree code update and a study of waterfront issues — were postponed due to a lack of time to coonsider them.

—  By Teresa Wippel

  1. I’m usually ready to tear into the council on Wednesday mornings, but I see this is no such morning. It frankly feels odd to see my neighborhood get some attention for our parks and recreation, and I’m really pleased to see the council working together on some very significant investments that are going to make a huge difference in the lives of a lot of families that live here. Thank you to them and to our amazing city staff from the parks department.

  2. The decision to amend the Parks plan to include partnering with MLT to improve access to the west side of Ballinger Park is great news. MLT has done an impressive job so far of improving the park and they maintain it too. Improving Edmonds access to this area, including the lake access, will provide a lot of bang for the buck as long as it is kept low key and is not turned into a mega project. And as long as it is maintained.

    1. Lake Ballinger Park is no doubt one of the nicest open space parks in the county. We should be so thankful to MTLKT that it wasn’t sold off for development and all we see now is house. It is also quite literally on the border with Edmonds. The fence line on 74th Ave. (ie, the Interurban) is the city line. The park is fully in MTLKT but Edmonds own half the lake and half of Edmount Island. Currently, our city has the following investments for that amazing park: a cut chain link fence to get into the park on the west side and a grassy/muddy hand launch on McAleer (amazing to have water access but childish looking compared to what MTLKT recently developed).

      So happy to see our two cities working together. Having the fireworks here on the 3rd hopefully will introduce more of the city to this amazing park. BTW – since I’ve seen some complaining – one reason it’s on the 3rd is that many folks don’t have the 5th off. For those of us with kids and work we can enjoy keeping them up late to enjoy, still partake in the daytime 4th events, and be ready for work, kids camps, sports, etc. on the 5th.

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