Published: Sunday, 09 April 2006 22:32
Written by Cindi Barker
On Feb 9th, the Parks Board made two recommendations.
Motion #1: Commissioner Collins recommended approval of the staff recommendation of a flat loop trail system at the lower south end of Orchard Street Ravine as well as extensive vegetation management torestore and preserve a native habitat. Commissioner Belbeck seconded. Commissioner Ranade made a friendly amendment, which was not accepted by Commissioner Collins [note: Commission Ranade made a second motion (below) that included language and intent from his friendly amendment.] Commissioner Collins stated that he was one of those who toured the site this week and went up and down the trails. He was persuaded that the current budgeted amount fund is too constrained to include a stairway. He does think it is a good idea for a later date. He believes the current funding should be used to clear out invasives, build a short trail into the park, and perform habitat restoration. The vote was taken and the motion passed unanimously.
Motion #2: Commission Ranade moved to recommend to the Superintendent that he seek negotiations with Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to control drainage on the 38th Ave street end and to seek funding for a safe through trail to be built there in the future. Commissioner Holme seconded. The vote was taken and the motion passed unanimously.
The full record of minutes can be found at: http://www.cityofseattle.net/parks/proparks/projects/orchardStRavine.htm
On March 10th, representatives from MoCA, FOSTR and ORCA met with Superintendent Bounds to explore what funding options or sources would be available to implement the intent of Motion #2. A brief summary is that:
The Parks Dept has a separate funding source that will be able to pay for a third party study for the through trail.
The Dept of Transportation may not have all the funds to make full pedestrian improvements in the areas outside the park boundry. MoCA suggested using the Cumulative Reserve Fund to address those needs, and will submit the appropriate paperwork. MoCA will also submit a Capital Improvement Project 2007 Budget Suggestion form, which would cover anything that might cost over $50,000.
For a through trail, several possible sources were discussed, including the Neighborhood Matching Fund, but we’ll need to wait and see how much we’re really talking about before specific sources and amounts can be targeted.
On April 5th, Superintendent Bounds sent MoCA the following letter, which summarizes his decisions.
Dear Ms. Barker:
On February 23, the Board of Park Commissioners voted unanimously to recommend "approval of the staff recommendation of a flat loop trail system at the lower south end of Orchard Street Ravine as well as extensive vegetation management to restore and preserve a native habitat" and also recommended that Park staff "seek negotiations with Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to control drainage on the 38th Avenue street end and to seek funding for a safe through trail to be built there in the future."
Subsequent to their action, on March 10 I met with representatives from the Morgan Community Association (MoCA), Friends of Orchard Street Ravine (FOStR), and Orchard Ravine Community Association (ORCA) and made the following decisions about the Orchard Street Ravine project.
1) Vegetation Management Plan
We will create a Vegetation Management Plan (VMP) for the Ravine. Parks will need a community-based volunteer/"friends of" group to be part of the process. Urban forester Katie Moller will help meld the project with the Green Seattle Partnership, a citywide forest restoration program. Katie, project manager Karen Galt, and a restoration consultant with wildlife expertise will meet with interested community members to create the VMP, which will guide how all partners proceed with restoration. Karen will lead efforts to develop trail options and related street runoff improvements.
2) Site Trail Connection
We will contract with an outside consulting firm to determine how best---whether 36th or 38th Avenue SW---to make a connection from above through the Ravine to the lower area, while minimizing disruption to the slope and habitat, and doing so in a minimalist, "light on the land" way. The consultant will also evaluate Americans with Disability Act (ADA) accessibility guidelines and SDOT and SPU requirements relevant to this location. This will not be paid for with Pro Parks Levy funding, but with an alternative Parks funding source established for pre-engineering assessment of potential projects. Some participants in the process questioned the thoroughness of staff’s analysis of the trail options, so I will have Parks staff contract with an independent consultant to advise us.
3) Implement VMP
We will begin implementing the VMP as soon as practical. Although we want to carry out the restoration as soon as possible, we will do that regardless of the levy implementation timeline. We hope to use the first few VMP community implementation projects as a way to create broader participation and build a broader volunteer group.
We have concluded the planning phase of this project. Our next step will be a public workshop series to develop the VMP, at which Parks staff will also provide updates on the trail option study and on the status of lower loop trail construction. We will begin the VMP workshop process by early May and plan to complete it by midsummer. The consultant evaluation of trail options is expected to be complete by the end of June. Initial lower loop trail construction and restoration work will begin after that, taking place during late summer and autumn.
Thank you for involvement with this project. I’m confident that we can all work together to make Orchard Street Ravine the environmental asset and community treasure it has the potential to be.
Sincerely,Kenneth R. BoundsSuperintendent, Seattle Parks and Recreation
In Summary, Park staff are proceeding with:
1) Creation of a Vegetation Management Plan (VMP) through a workshop process, to guide near- and long-term restoration efforts.
2) Construction of the lower loop access trail and infrastructure.
3) Contracting with an outside consulting firm to determine how best - whether 36th or 38th Ave SW – to make a connection from up above through the ravine, while minimizing disruption to the slope and habitat. This will not be paid for with Pro Parks funds.
4) Implement the VMP as soon as possible, working with all interested citizens to develop ongoing stewardship of this wonderful resource!