This half-mile-long Duwamish River shore site, where a groundbreaking ceremony was held today for a future park, won’t exist once the project is done.
This is T-117, a Port of Seattle=owned former industrial site in South Park (map) put on the Superfund toxic-cleanup list in 2003, and now destined for restoration to its roots as a tidal marsh. Since big ceremonial crowds are out of the question, a small group of Port and community representatives gathered for today’s event, which the Port streamed live.
It’s an “extraordinary project,” enthused Paulina López, executive director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition.
DRCC has long been involved with this site (among others); this 2013 WSB story quoted one of her predecessors, describing early cleanup work at T-117. López spoke of the “hope” offered by the site’s transformation, both because it will open up more of the riverfront to a community with “limited public access,” and because the project also promises green job training, with opportunity for youth to learn how to work on habitat restoration and marine conservation.
Magdalena Angel-Cano, also with DRCC, embodies that opportunity – she joined the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps at age 13 and became a “first-generation college student.” She spoke of the need for a clear path for the community’s youth, so there can be more representation in the area’s industries, especially maritime.
The ceremony also included George Blomberg from the Port explaining what’ll happen at T-117.
The site’s elevation will be reduced to bring back the marsh; there’ll be an interpretive path, 8 viewpoints, a pier, and a hand-carry boat launch. Thousands of native plants will go into the ground. “This site has a memory,” observed Blomberg – a memory of its pre-industrial millennia – and that was affirmed by another speaker, Native storyteller/historian Roger Fernandes.
It’s a “powerful act” to see land like this returned to what it once was, Fernandes noted, before telling “The Changer Story.”
The changes here will take place over the next year and a half or so – more project details, and history, are here.