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Leschi Marina Phase II Redevelopment

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

The plans for the last phase of the marina redevelopment, entitled “Wave Attenuation & Public Access Facility,” have suddenly come to light. The big takeaway from a review of the plans is that the existing 47-foot wide pier, which functions as a community gathering place, is eliminated, and is not replaced by any structure with any capacity for community gathering!

The proposed “public access” consists of a gangway leading to a 16’ wide x 130 long float with a metal grated deck that leads to a series of connected 12-ft wide grated floats all along the east side of the boat basin. These floats function as breakwater, short term moorage for visiting boats, and access to and from the shore for the visiting boats.

This begs the question, public access to what? Public access to the opportunity for a closeup view of the visitors’ yachts and other watercraft? What is the nature of public access now that there would be no pier or deck area that would be a magnet for people to congregate and hang out? Or to hold yoga classes? Who wants to sit on or sunbathe on a metal grate even if it provides enough room to stretch out, which it does not?

This development is located within the Yesler Way right of way. The policy pursued by the Leschi Community Council has historically been to use the street ends at the lake shore for public access to enjoy the shore and the water. What they have accomplished within a half dozen street ends between here and the I-90 bridge is called “The String of Pearls.” That initiative has been very successful. This design clearly represents a missed public access opportunity.

In sum, the proposal provides public access to the boat owning public but essentially no public access for the residents of the Leschi community or for the non-boat owning public at large. Indeed, it actually reduces public access for the community. There is an opportunity for the Parks Dept to do better if the Leschi Community gets together and forces it. That’s because the building permit for the last phase has expired and the Parks Department will need to repeat the public notice and review process in order to reinstate the building permit.

Here’s a simple solution that could be offered up in the public review process: Widen the 16-ft floats at the bottom of the gangway to 30 feet and place them off-center with the 10-ft wide gangway (shifting them to the north) so that the circulation route does not bisect those floats as it does in the present design. The 135-ft long float is designed as a series of 16’x20’ linked floats. Not all of them need to be widened, however. Just the 3 floats at the very end that connect to the breakwater floats. That would provide a 20’x60’ area for community activity outside the 10-ft wide circulation path. The decking in that area could be spaced plastic lumber planks instead of open grates, which would articulate it as an activity area and provide a more appropriate surface for activity. Fixed benches could be provided there, as well. This would go a long way to restoring the historic community gathering function of the pier without making major changes to the plans.

~Randall Spaan


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