Friends of Marymoor Park

September 26th, 2012 Meeting Summary

-- see also the July 25, 2012  meeting summary 

1.    Welcome and Introductions: 

Norah Gaynor Robinson (now at Norah.Robinson@kingcounty.gov) King County Parks; Christina Merten FOMP Board Member and Marymoor Community Gardeners representative; Michael Hobbs FOMP Secretary and Eastside Audubon

2.  Sammamish River Work

This has been a major topic at the last two meetings.  Jim and Judy Trockel brought the issue to the attention of the FOMP board on August 21, after they observed contractors working in the slough, clearing rocks from the river channel below the weir.  FOMP has been trying to research what is happening since then.

At issue is the flood control area which is adjacent to the northwest corner of the off-leash dog area.  A weir (half-sunken dam) was rebuilt in the late 1990's, replacing an earlier structure.  The weir is designed to keep summer water levels artificially higher in Lake Sammamish.  The new weir has a narrow, deep channel in the middle that was designed to allow cooler water from deeper in the river to pass downstream of the weir in summer.  High water temperatures can be harmful to fish.  In the winter, when water levels are higher, water simply flows over the top of the weir.  Below the weir is a long, wide flood channel, designed to allow quick drainage of the lake following flood events.  The weir and the flood channel were constructed by the Corps of Engineers, who maintain ultimate authority over river matters.

Around 2003, when Chinook Salmon were listed under the Endangered Species Act, a new maintenance agreement was reached to modify actions around the flood channel in ways that, it was hoped, would help salmon.  It is unclear how formalized that agreement was, and which parties had sign-off on it.  However, King County at that time, put in place a policy of mowing the flood control channel on a four-year rotation, while keeping at 10-foot swathe of willows along either side of the low-water channel.  Mowing of the flood control channel is necessary to allow fast drainage of the lake.  The four-year rotation would have the county (which does the "maintenance" of the flood channel for the Corps) mow one side of the channel the first year, and the other side of the channel the third year.

In 2010-2011, there were meetings between the City of Bellevue and a citizens group comprising lakeside homeowners.  The county was brought in to the discussions as well.  The citizens group was concerned that the mean water level was rising.  While high and low water levels were consistent with historical extremes, they were noting that the lake was draining more slowly following flood events.  They complained about dock damage, and damage to retaining walls, but the other issue for them was that if the mean lake level was determined to be higher, then the location of the shoreline would be "redrawn", and portions of their properties would legally become part of the lake.

Bowing to the pressure of these land owners, King County issued a new policy for the flood control channel wherein both sides of the channel would be mowed every year (a four-fold increase in mowing), along with increased activity to remove potential blockages to flow.  The latter included removal of rocks that had been found which formed a small weir downstream from the official weir.  How, when, and by whom this rock wall was constructed remains a mystery.  It was this rock removal that the Trockels observed in August.

A much more complete discussion of the history and current situation is contained within a report on the feasibility of removing sediment from the Sammamish River (an analysis that the county agreed to do along with the other work).  See ftp://green.kingcounty.gov/transfer/stz_feasibilityStudy for an extensive yet readable discussion of the issues. The 2011 letter that details the new "maintenance" plan for the flood channel is included as Appendix 1 in that document.

Greg has exchanged emails with John Engel who is the engineering manager for the project, and John has provided some of the relevant documents.  There are references in the a 2003 document that imply there were more meetings before a final policy would be adopted, but John has not been able to locate any follow-up documents.  That is, there does not appear to be a final, official, salmon-friendly plan from 2003.  FOMP has also not received documents that should exist, including ESA evaluations.

Troubling questions remain:

  • How did all of this occur (public meetings, new policies, etc.) without FOMP getting even a hint of it?

  • How could the maintenance plan from 2003, which was designed to be more salmon-friendly, be discarded without ESA assessment?  The current plan involves even more in-river work than the pre-2003 plan, yet the county avers that no permitting is required since they've always done work of similar nature in the flood channel.

  • How was the county able to remove the "illegal rock weir" from the low water channel, by hand, during the salmon migration window (Aug. 15 - Nov. 15) without a permit???  One might also ask why these rocks were removed at all, given that the modeling done in the feasibility study (link above) predicts the rock removal will have little to no effect on flood channel flow rates.

3.  CIP/Project/Facility Updates:  Norah Gaynor

a) BirdLoop:  The viewing mound or platform is complete, and is greatly appreciated by the birdwatchers.  Located just east of the birding kiosk in the southeast corner of Lot G, the mound has a gentle slope up to a viewing area at the top.  The edges of the ramp and the viewing area are protected with split-rail fence.  Two benches have been installed in the viewing area.  To the south, you look over the East Meadow to Mt. Rainier.  To the east, you can view the entire model airplane field.  To the southwest, almost all of the off-leash dog area is visible.  This is a delightful spot that may be enjoyed by all park visitors.

Day of Caring - work parties over two days removed a lot of thistle, Scotts Broom, and blackberries.

b) Community Gardens:  MCGA is working on a Community Partnership Grant from Parks to entirely replace old garden plumbing.

c)  Interpretive Lot (Lot G):  Split-rail fencing is 1/2 done and should be completed by mid-October.  There will be two metal gates allowing access to the maintenance area, with split-rail closing that entire area off from the parking lot and the viewing mound.

d) SRA Boathouse Project:  See http://sammamishrowing.org/newboathouse Here's the current status:  All windows and doors installed, Garage bay doors installed, Sprinkler system rough-in complete, Mezzanine footings poured, Outside retaining wall structure complete, Siding installation begun (Tyvek weather wrap installed), Mitigation planting completed, but mitigation areas will be maintained.  The goal is to get the building to a weather-proof state before December.  They are now beginning to plan fundraising efforts for the last phase.  Based on bids received, they need approximately $650,000 to finish the entire project and be able to demolish the old boathouse.  Their annual gala is scheduled for November 30th at the Redmond Town Center Marriott.

e) Lighting Projects:  Cottage driveway - repair two.  MacNair Field - install three.  North Athletic Fields - proposed new lighting between Subway and soccer complex, and area that is currently notoriously dark

4.  Events

  • Cirque du Soliel "Amaluna" show scheduled January 31 - March 24

5. Other

  • ADA Parking - Parks will be evaluating each parking lot to make sure there is proper ADA parking provided.  Currently, there are no paved ADA spots in the grass and gravel lot (Lot B) north of the MacNair Field, and Parks will be fixing that.  Other lots may also need ADA spots.
  • Concert Venue - Dave Latrell has not requested an extension of the contract for Marymoor concert promoter, so the county is looking for a new promoter to take over the venue.  The fencing, which is usually removed in winter, will remain in place for a while so that prospective concert promoters can visit the site and see the venue.

Next Meeting: Wednesday October 24, 2012, 7pm Marymoor Art Barn

These notes do not constitute an official record of the meeting.  They may have inaccuracies and omissions.  If anyone has any complaints about the content of these notes, they should direct them to Michael Hobbs at fomp@marymoor.org, and he will endeavor to correct them.

 

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