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City staff provide update, receive feedback on Ballinger Park waterfront project

Jul 19, 2023Jul 19, 2023

With plans to redevelop parts of Ballinger Park, the City of Mountlake Terrace hosted a public meeting last week to review and gather input on the waterfront elements of its planned park improvements project.

Community members gathered Jan. 22 at the Mountlake Terrace Community Senior Center, where Recreation and Parks Director Jeff Betz led a discussion regarding the city's plans to include a new fishing pier, boat launch, boat dock and beach improvements along the waterfront.

Since the adoption of the Ballinger Park Master Plan in 2015, city staff have been engaging the community for input on park improvements. Before the presentation, Betz encouraged residents to continue to offer ideas.

"We’re really here to see what you guys think of what we’ve done so far and to get any feedback or changes," he said.

Plans for the 55-acre regional park include multiple redevelopments; however, Betz said the park will maintain its current layout with the westside offering passive recreation, including walking paths and opportunities to enjoy the natural scenery.

During the meeting, staff and city-hired consultants highlighted waterfront improvements planned along the park's eastside. These include plans to construct a new boat launch at the current launch site – located next to the fishing pier — as well as a new adjacent floating boat dock. Plans also include relocating the fishing pier further north.

The city hired the Seattle-based firm PND Engineering to draft designs for the fishing pier and floating dock. After assessing the lake's depth and sub-water level, construction designer Carl McNabb said plans for 300-foot pier will include using 24-inch diameter galvanized steel piles spaced 40 feet apart to support the pier, which would be roughly 60 feet long and protrude 5 feet above the water. According to the draft design, the pier will be 6 feet wide, with "bump-outs" for fishing, viewing or passing others. The railing on the pier will have pickets spaced 4 inches apart and be topped with wood designed at an angle. The design also calls for a 20-foot-by-20-foot rectangular overlook at the end of the pier. Benches could be included along the pier and the pier's overlook.

The design also shows an abutment that will bridge over lakefront wetlands before merging into the pier. Disturbed vegetation around the abutment will be restored, McNabb added.

The new pier would also trade wood decking for fiberglass grating that will be both ADA compliant and less expensive to maintain, McNabb said.

"These are ideal concepts," McNabb said.

Next, McNabb reviewed early plans for the new floating dock, which include making it 80 feet long, restrained by internal piles 12 inches in diameter and cleats lining each side so that boaters can tie up their kayaks, small boats, paddleboards, sailboats and canoes. A new 16-foot concrete ramp would also be installed with grooved texture for better traction, McNabb said.

Following the completion of pier and dock construction, the city would bring in Seattle-based HBB Landscape Architecture to restore disturbed vegetation around the shoreline. Principal landscaping architect Dean Koontz said native plants will be used to stabilize the shoreline around the fishing pier, control erosion and enhance the habitat.

Before building the floating dock, creosote piles at the end of the existing dock as well as the rubber tire "walls" along the shoreline will be removed, Koontz said.

"The main concept (of restoration) is to use habitat and shoreline planting to handle the soil erosion and to try to get some of the habitat value as well," he said.

Koontz said low-height plants — like bog rosemary, silvery sedge and Oregon irises — will be added in certain areas to maintain clear views of incoming boats at the launch site. Medium-height plants — like red flower currant, snowberry and cluster rose — will be added where space is available and views will not be obstructed, he added.

Betz said the $1.1 million project is being funded by an Aquatic Land Enhancement Account (ALEA) grant through the Washington State Recreation Conservation Office (RCO), a park improvement grant from Snohomish County and city park impact fees. According to the master plan, total design and construction costs for the park is projected to cost up to $15 million to be phased in over several years.

Following the presentation, Betz opened the floor to feedback and questions from the audience.

Kathy Tuura, a member of the city's Neighborhood Parks Subcommittee, said she and others were concerned about the effects construction will have on natural habitats and other wildlife, specifically nesting eagles.

In response, Koontz said that it was still early and there was no definite schedule in place yet to accommodate the park's existing habitat, but he had some ideas.

Residents were also concerned that some of the park's trees would be removed during construction, but Betz said the city had no intention of removing trees in the area.

Lynnwood resident Robert Albee praised the designs and offered additional feedback on how to improve safety for seniors, as well as addressing other ADA-related concerns. Albee, an avid kayaker, said he often brings seniors to the lake to kayak and the uneven ground has caused people to trip. He also brought with him designs that would help to make it safer for people with disabilities to access narrow water vessels like kayaks.

"We want to get some of our friends who are in wheelchairs into the water, but we want to do it in a safe way," Albee said. "So I’m delighted we might have a safe way to do that with your help."

In addition to the waterfront features, plans for the park's westside include a new restroom, shelter area, trails and pathways, and an ADA-compliant playground. The $500,000 playground will be funded by grants from the Hazel Miller Foundation and the National Park Service's Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Though not much redevelopment is expected to occur on the park's north, Betz said a splash pad could potentially be added at the park's existing playground.

Also during the meeting, Betz gave a briefing on the park's Hall Creek restoration project. The city partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the restoration project after it was determined the project merited federal interest because it will have a positive impact on significant ecosystem resources. The restoration would include removing invasive plants, like blackberries, thistle and bush ivy and replacing them with native low-lying bushes and trees.

"That (restoration) would potentially not only retain view corridors — because that's one of our goals — but also to revegetate it the way it should be," Betz said.

The restoration project is estimated to cost up to $5 million and the city would be kicking in 35% of that — $1.7-2.3 million. Staff is hoping to receive $1 million in state funding to help cover the city's portion.

According to Betz, the time for construction of the pier and dock the will be determined on how quickly they receive the required permits. Betz said construction could begin as early as this summer and he hopes to complete the project within the next year.

–By Cody Sexton

Ballinger Park Master Plan National Park Service's