First Sunrise Heights/Westwood, next Highland Park? County update on roadside-raingarden (and other) possibilities

(Click image for full-size flyer also showing the South Park area and the explanatory legend)
With two major combined-sewer-overflow (CSO) reduction projects under way in West Seattle, the King County Wastewater Treatment District is looking ahead to its next one, in Highland Park and South Park. The most-recent HP Action Committee meeting got an update from KCWTD’s Kristine Cramer and John Phillips.

In addition to possible “roadside raingardens” along some streets in the area (highlighted above in yellow) – like the ones going into more than a dozen blocks of Sunrise Heights and Westwood – they also are looking at permeable (porous) pavement in some parts of the area, and possibly a runoff-control project using part of one of the Seattle City Light “surplus” ex-substation sites.

They were very cautious when discussing the latter, saying there’s no deal so far to buy that 13,740-square-foot site at 9th and Trenton (which City Light calls the “White Center” site, although it’s in Highland Park), and making it clear that the county would not be able to use the entire parcel, so it would have to be bought in conjunction with some kind of community partner who could.

Overall, Phillips told HPAC attendees that about 11 acres in the area are directly connected to “combined sewers,” mostly along 9th. The roadside raingardens, a possibility for the yellow-marked zone on the map above, would likely not affect much on-street parking, he said, because the road shoulder is fairly wide. The Highland Park project is intended to reduce the amount of CSO into the Duwamish River at two spots, described as “at the bottom of Highland Park Drive, headed for 1st Avenue South” (officially known as West Michigan) and “at T-115 by the Duwamish Longhouse.”

This summer, they are working on design, as well as trying to figure out how part of the surplus-substation site might be used, and if any nonprofit groups/foundations would be interested in helping buy the property. The county projects that about a quarter of the site would be used for “bioretention” but the rest would be open for something else.

HPAC chair Carolyn Stauffer noted that the community had suggested in the past that Seattle Parks could use the site as another entrance into Westcrest Park, but that Parks had taken a pass on it. Phillips says they’ll be talking to county “decisionmakers” in the next month or so to figure something out. Regarding installing “permeable pavement” for drainage in at least one area alley, he said they’re working with SDOT. That was heartening news to one attendee, who said it would be unfortunate if public agencies couldn’t work together

The Highland Park project’s official webpage on the county’s site is here. Cramer and Phillips promised to return to HPAC – which won’t meet again until September – with an update in the fall. They suggested anyone interested in what the roadside raingardens look like to go take a look at 34th/Holden, the first nearly-complete section of the Sunrise Heights/Westwood project (aka the Barton Basin CSO project).

In the meantime, the county is still urging residents to help reduce the stormwater flow at its source – their homes – via the RainWise program, which offers rebates for installation of at-home stormwater infrastructure such as cisterns; it’s already taken 14,000 square feet of roof runoff out of the system, Cramer and Phillips told HPAC.

THE REST OF THE STORY: The other major topic of this month’s HPAC meeting was community involvement with and support for Highland Park Elementary School – we’ll be writing about that separately.

1 Reply to "First Sunrise Heights/Westwood, next Highland Park? County update on roadside-raingarden (and other) possibilities"

  • Dixie Normas June 3, 2014 (1:34 am)

    Regarding the “permeable pavement” for at least one area alley!!! Do we know which alley they are discussing because we have been trying to get the city to pave the one behind us for years now or at least make it accessible for cars!! it actually was rated by the city of Seattle as one of the worst alleys in the city on there top ten alley list i believe it was like number 2 or 3 we have had to have police out numerous times due to transients stringing tarps from fence lines to make makeshift housing back there then you get the idiots who think they can drive down it in winter and rutt it out then get stuck in the mud and have to be towed out which causes more rutts the then comes the heavy rains that fill up the rutts and overflow mud and water into our yards…

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