City Hall

PubliCola Comment of the Day Goes To...

By Erica C. Barnett January 14, 2010

Today's Comment of the Day comes from Cary Moon of the People's Waterfront Coalition, in response to my post about Mayor Mike McGinn's property-tax proposal to replace the downtown waterfront seawall (Moon, like McGinn, opposes the $4.2 billion waterfront tunnel, and was a McGinn supporter during the election).

Giant, raging, red flag on this play.

Cool to get going on the seawall and fix a public safety risk, and to firmly reassert that the waterfront / seawall is Seattle’s business, independent of WSDOT’s tunnel nightmare. But not cool to jettison the goal to build a smarter, more ecologically supportive seawall. And not cool to jerk this project out of the larger waterfront visioning and planning effort just getting underway now.

The new seawall/ shoreline system is the spine of the new waterfront. Its design determines how people will access the water, or not, and represent Seattle’s stewardship commitment to Puget Sound. We have a brilliant, 100 year opportunity to do this right, setting a new standard for all the urbanized (-ing) areas along Puget Sound, and showing what an ecologically functional, people and fish friendly water’s edge could be. To design such an innovative solution takes time, the integration of technical intelligence from several fields, and considerable creativity. To shortcut this, and stick with the prior design that pours millions of tons of concrete in the intertidal zone because we don’t have time to identify a smarter solution — where is the logic in that?

The new seawall should be designed as part of the larger vision for the 25 acres of waterfront public land. We have the chance to do lower impact edge, functional beaches in three areas that integrate with new upland public spaces, and create a continuous salmon migration corridor. Committing to a 1950’s solution — a vertical, hard-armored concrete wall — may be exactly the opposite of what future Seattle needs.

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