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:
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.