VIDEO: ‘Unique opportunity’ pitched by parks in Lowman Beach post-seawall design

Imagine Lowman Beach Park with a stretch of currently undergrounded Pelly Creek running through it to meet the Sound. That’s part of the preliminary-design plan shown at last week’s community meeting about the park’s seawall-free future. In case you couldn’t be there, we recorded video:

David Graves from Seattle Parks led the meeting – as he did back in June 2017 – with members of the design team from Environmental Science Associates. Here’s the slide deck they used.

They recapped the problem – the remaining seawall on the north side of Lowman Beach Park is sliding; it started failing in 2015. The south seawall failed in the mid-’90s. At the 2017 meeting, three possibilities for the beach’s future were detailed, and they are moving ahead with the one that involves removing the remaining seawall and restoring the beach to more of a natural state.

More controversial is the plan to also remove the asphalt tennis court that’s just behind the seawall. Graves acknowledged that it’s much-loved and well-used. He said they’re looking at the possibility of “restoring the tennis function” elsewhere in the park, perhaps its open area toward the southeast side – the top right of this rendering:

Or, suggested one team member, pieces of the old court could be repurposed as a memorial of sorts.

They won’t have more details until the plan reaches the 60-percent-design milestone. But Graves and the designers/consultants stressed how rare this is, to have a stretch of beach that is eligible for this type of restoration: “There’s a unique opportunity here, nowhere else in West Seattle … when this is done, you’ll be able to put a blanket on the grass and watch your kids play on the sand.” One attendee later wondered aloud whether driftwood was likely to eventually get in the way of that, as had happened on the south side of the beach, and Graves acknowledged that was possible. Still, the project team rhapsodized about how good this could be for salmon habitat – connecting that to endangered orca whales’ need for more food – and how it would even position the shoreline to be able to better handle future expected sea-level rise.

This area was identified as a priority for restoration more than a decade ago, Graves added, so it’s likely to get the grant funding that will be needed for the project.

Other questions and concerns beyond the tennis court involved the absence of a restroom in the plan – talking about families coming to picnic, it was suggested, made no sense if there wasn’t going to be one – plus fears that removing the seawall would lead to further compromising of the bulkheads protecting waterfront homes to the north, as also aired at the 2017 meeting.

One person asked about the park’s swing set. It’s staying, said Graves, and they’re also mulling whether the play area could be expanded.

WHAT’S NEXT: The 60-percent-design milestone is expected as soon as next month, and 100 percent design by year’s end. Project construction would happen next year, assuming the funding is found, and would last three to six months.

12 Replies to "VIDEO: 'Unique opportunity' pitched by parks in Lowman Beach post-seawall design"

  • THOMAS LAXTON March 9, 2019 (8:34 am)

    So why didnt they do all this when they put in the new sewer treatment plant 

    • WSB March 9, 2019 (12:01 pm)

      The facility across the street is an overflow-prevention facility – no treatment goes on there. That aside, it’s a separate government agency (county vs. city) but even more germane … the planning for that facility dates back to 2007 (I just checked our archives), long before the seawall started seriously sliding.

  • Andy March 9, 2019 (9:16 am)

    While this was one of the nicest spots for a tennis court in the city I don’t think it is appropriate to place a court in this park again.  One of the things that made it so great was being right next to the wall and water.  With the redesign it won’t be next to the water.  If a full fence is required around the court the tennis court would greatly take away from the open space feeling of the park.  It might be expensive to put a tennis court in to this area.  Please spend the money on improving the existing tennis courts in West Seattle or adding to the existing courts – or even better getting covered courts in the West Seattle area.  I agree on getting a bath room in the park would be really nice.

    • vlado March 9, 2019 (1:51 pm)

      I agree, putting up required fencing for a tennis court would significantly affect the view of the water.   I have rarely seen anyone using the tennis court in the 22 years that I have lived in the neighborhood, but if it is needed it should be rebuilt somewhere else where it doesn’t have a negative impact.  The park like design of the storm water facility across the street has really opened up the natural character of the area, and daylighting Pelley Creek would be a wonderful addition to the evolving landscape.

  • Morgan March 9, 2019 (9:28 am)

    Yes to all….sounds great. Space enough for bathrooms and play facility and lawn and creek and swings and beach and new tennis (b-ball?) courts…

  • Alkiobserver March 9, 2019 (10:58 am)

    Interesting plans. I love playing tennis on those courts. Would hate to see them go away!

  • anonyme March 9, 2019 (12:40 pm)

    Great plan, but add some restrooms.  Also, if you’re going to daylight the creek make sure that whoever does maintenance does not use pesticides.

  • will o wisp March 9, 2019 (4:45 pm)

    I enjoy being able to launch a kayak into the sound from the park?  

  • Guy Olson March 9, 2019 (4:48 pm)

    Attending a meeting to voice your opinion would be a start or e-mailing the Parks Department is also helpful.

  • Mj March 9, 2019 (5:47 pm)

    They need to add restrooms!

  • Dunno March 10, 2019 (6:33 pm)

    Love the tennis court there.  The lack of fencing was good, it meant that the court wasn’t used as a dog run like the ones up the hill where it’s common to find dog droppings.  How gross is that when your balls roll through the fecies and urine.   The only problem at the beach is the rough surface.

  • Lowmanbeachdrive March 11, 2019 (9:54 am)

    I rarely have seen the tennis court used and I think there are other priorities.  For example, I see a  lot of folks trying to launch paddle boards and kayaks.  It would be great if there was an easier way to do that.  Maybe a road that can only be used to launch (load and unload only) that goes a little closer to the water, so folks don’t have to haul their boards/boats by hand (hard to do when solo) over 30 yards of rocks and driftwood.  Love the the early plans and appreciate the thoughtful considerations being made by the planning team.  The creek is a great idea!I would also like to know what sort of chemicals will used for landscaping purposes.  There are lots of kids and pets in this park;  would like to keep it harm free.

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