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Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board

July 20, 2002

Members of the Seattle City Council Transportation Committee Richard Conlin, Chair. Heidi Wills, Vice Chair. Richard McIver Nick Licata

Members of the Parks Committee
Peter Steinbrueck, Chair.
Jan Drago,
Judy Nicastro
Margaret Pageler

Greg Nickels
Mayor, Seattle, WA

600 - 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

Dear Council Members:
Dear Mayor Nickels:

Re/SPAB ADVISORY ON MYRTLE EDWARDS/ELLIOTT BAY WATERFRONT PARKS PEDESTRIAN ACCESS

The Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board (SPAB) urges the equitable division of neighborhood plan implementation funding contained in the Pro Parks Levy Lid Lift (City Proposition #1, 2000) in order to complete a geographically effective set of bicycle/pedestrian connections which will give the public access to the Myrtle Edwards/Elliott Bay Waterfront Park trail system.

The long, narrow parks of Seattle's northern waterfront provide an as yet to be realized recreational potential as well as a linear trail that is integral to Seattle's bike/pedestrian trail system. Connections to Elliott Avenue are an essential element of bike/pedestrian routes that utilize this park trail.

These parks represent a substantial City and Port of Seattle investment in land acquisition, development, and purchase of easements. The parks are adjacent to the Belltown and Uptown Urban Center new residential and business concentrations. The Uptown Urban Center and the Belltown Urban Village are important elements in neighborhood plans for accommodating additional population in our already developed city.

However there is currently very limited physical access to this waterfront park system. The parks are separated from the neighborhoods by the BNSF Railroad main line and switching yards. Once one enters Myrtle Edwards Park at Broad Street, no exit exists for 1.3 miles until one reaches West Galer Street west of the Immunex development. The lack of access points in this park system poses issues of personal safety and confidence for many people, particularly women and the disabled.

Existing connections to Myrtle Edwards/Elliott Bay Parks over the BNSF main line:

  • Broad Street grade crossing of BNSF main line.
  • West Galer Flyover and bike/pedestrian ramps
  • West Galer grade crossing of BNSF, to be closed in near future

Accordingly, to make new recreation amenities concurrent with urban village population/job growth, funding for two additional access connections were designated for funding from Pro Parks Levy dollars. Immunex signed an agreement to provide a bike/pedestrian bridge which would access a route from Elliott Avenue, across the BNSF yards and main line, through company property and eventually to the Fishing Pier area of the Port's Elliott Bay Waterfront Park at West Prospect Street.

Proposed connections to Myrtle Edwards/Elliott Bay Waterfront Parks over the BNSF main line and switching yards:

  • Olympic Sculpture (private) Park (OSP) between Broad and Eagle Streets
  • From Elliott Avenue at the West Thomas Street street end to the boundary between Myrtle Edwards Park and the county's Elliott Bay Waterfront Park.
  • From Elliott Avenue at West Prospect Street to the Fishing Pier area via the Amgen (formerly Immunex) industrial campus.

Both the Belltown (OSP) and the Lower Queen Anne (West Thomas Street) waterfront access facilities are designated for partial funding in the Pro Parks Levy Lid Lift City Proposition ordinance. The subsequent CIP ordinance of 2001 also designates the two waterfront access facilities for partial funding. Both projects have ample prospects for utilizing the Pro Parks funding to leverage other funding.

Now the Department of Parks and Recreation proposes to defund the Lower Queen Anne waterfront access at West Thomas Street in favor of "full funding" for the OSP pedestrian grade separation near the existing grade crossing access point to Myrtle Edwards Park at Broad Street/Alaskan Way.

SPAB asks the City Council to adhere to the language of the Pro Parks Levy Lid Lift ordinance (City Proposition #1, 2000) and the CIP ordinance of 2001 by which both the Lower Queen Anne and the Belltown (OSP) waterfront connections will be partially funded.

SPAB also asks the Council not to endorse the re-allocation of Shoreline Park Improvement Funds in the approximate amount to $1 million from the Lower Queen Anne waterfront access facility at West Thomas Street to the OSP pedestrian grade separation.

SPAB points out that the West Thomas Street site will provide a midpoint access to the Myrtle Edwards/Elliott Bay Waterfront Park trail system that no other access point offers. That access will also serve, as per the Queen Anne Neighborhood Plan, to provide an entry/exit to the parks for the fast-growing Uptown Urban Center and Queen Anne populations.

Please provide for well-spaced public waterfront access points linking arterials to the Myrtle Edwards/Elliott Bay Waterfront Park trail system. SPAB calls for this park system to be made accessible along its length to the public in general and the neighborhoods adjoining the parks as an amenity concurrent with urban village growth and the neighborhood plans.

Sincerely

Donald John Coney
Chair.

Suzanne Anderson
Vice Chair