Course set to fixing Pilchuck Park road and riverbank
SNOHOMISH — The City Council voted on a plan to relocate the Pilchuck Park access road and reinforce the nearby river’s slope at its final council meeting of the year Dec. 7. The city is pursuing these measures in order to address the river erosion that has impacted the park entrance to the point where action is imperative.
Council members had two choices: Alternative 1 involved relocating the access road, while Alternative 2 involved relocating the access road and reinforcing the slope.
“Alternative 1 would be lower in costs and require less permits, but it doesn’t address the long-term impacts of the bank,” said city engineer Yosh Monzaki, who has been involved in monitoring the river for several years.
Councilmembers voted unanimously in favor of Alternative 2. It is unclear how much the entire project will cost. That shall be determined after hydraulic analysis, geotechnical work, and archaeological research can determine the scope of the construction and the length of the reinforcement.
At this meeting, the council only reached the decision to create a preliminary design for the changes to the park. Further decisions will be made once the design is complete and the cost can be definitively determined. The design and permitting process is currently slated for 2022 and 2023.
Relocating the access road by the proposed 50 feet would entail removing two to three trees along the access road, relocating utilities, parking lot reconfiguration, relocating the pedestrian trail, filling, grading, paving and striping. The river bank reinforcement would involve the installation of large woody debris, water diversion, plantings, and slope reinforcement.
Currently, the city has allotted $191,575 for engineering consulting firm Gray & Osborne to develop the preliminary design. The slope reinforcement requires additional permits that are estimated to cost around $100,000, bringing the grand total to approximately $300,000.
Before the vote, City Administrator Steve Schuller voiced his support for the more comprehensive plan, but weighed tabling the slope reinforcement in order to cut costs. “I can see just moving the road now to save money for now and watching the river,” he said. “It’s expensive to do this work, and $300,000 is not small in our world.”
Construction is tentatively scheduled for summer 2023, depending on the speed of the permitting process and that council allocates money for it.
In 2019, environmental consulting firm Robinson Noble concluded that if there was no intervention, the river would inevitably affect the park access road as well as the neighboring cemetery. Monzaki assures that the construction will not affect the cemetery property, although it will impact the area around it.
Some community members raised concerns about the erosion encroaching on the nearby cemetery and pushed for the option to reinforce the slope. “The cemetery certainly is sacred,” said resident Melody Clemans. “The right thing to do is protect that as much as possible.”
An archeological consultant will need to assess the state of the cemetery and surrounding lands to determine if there are any artifacts or remains in the land. The Tulalip Tribes have already been notified of the possibility of this project and will be updated as the process moves along. The project will require permits from the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, the Department of Ecology, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Army Corps of Engineers and Snohomish County.
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