Kenmore parks planners are at odds again with local environmentalists, this time over plans to expand the beach at Log Boom Park.
This latest round of resistance comes fresh off City Council’s decision to suspend plans for building new ball fields at Wallace Swamp Creek Park.
Activists opposed that project, as well, because it would infringe on critical habitats and turn passive land into active space.
The Log Boom beach project is included in Kenmore’s parks and recreation master plan, which the City Council approved in 2003.
Phase One — which included a new playground, improved access to the pier and landscaping — is already complete.
The second stage will consist of waterfront enhancements such as expanding the beach, adding a fountain that spouts from Lake Washington and creating a log boom to protect the swimming area from debris.
Local environmentalist Elizabeth Mooney has asked to know where the demand for these projects came from.
The city surveyed residents during a series of advisory meetings that took place in 2003 and 2005 to determine what the public wanted to see in its parks.
Most participants indicated that waterfront improvements were a high priority, but nearly half opposed the more specific idea of a beach enhancement during later polling.
Relatively few residents were involved in the surveys. Kenmore Parks Planner Bill Evans claims there were roughly 20 people at each advisory session.
“Frankly, our public meetings aren’t very highly attended,” he said.
Initial plans called for a 1-acre beach, but the city has since downsized its proposal with an area around one-third that size.
“We’ve tightened it up to mitigate the impacts,” Evans said. “We’re trying to respond to the needs of the public — both for and against this project — but it keeps shrinking down.”
The Log Boom plan calls for adding and enhancing wetlands within Swamp Creek Park — which King County recently deeded to the city — in order to mitigate the impacts of a beach expansion.
Those who oppose the idea say it would be better to enhance the existing beach without enlarging it.
The concern is that an expansion would destroy shoreline and aquatic vegetation that is critical to fish habitats.
Tom Murdoch, a professor of stream and wetland ecology at Western Washington University and the executive director of the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation, claims the city might be better served by building an enhanced pier for fishing and swimming.
“The city should retain that natural habitat,” Murdoch said. “What they’re talking about is not a huge area, but if you look at the lake and how much shoreline has been lost, every little chink that goes away is like death by a thousand cuts.”
Local activist Debra Srebnik has also called into question the city’s proposal for constructing a log boom, claiming it would disrupt the circulation of water.
“I don’t understand that,” Evans said. “The log boom floats on top and the water flows underneath.”
The city intends that structure to be a historic element that would block solid debris from entering the swim area.
No aspect of the Phase Two plan has escaped criticism, including the water fountain.
Mooney said the structure would waste resources and could potentially disrupt fish.
“I don’t understand why the city of Kenmore would want to spend money on some spraying fountain on top of a lake,” she said. “In this day and age, when we need to save water and energy, I’m amazed they came up with this.”
Mooney has also expressed concern about the effects of unearthing sediment to place pipes and cables underground for the fountain.
Evans says it’s nearly impossible to please everyone, especially considering the fact that there is little to no land available for developing municipal parks without affecting critical habitats.
“It’s just like the ball fields,” Evans said. “Some people want it to be natural and some want to develop it.”
Log Boom Park is the only site within Kenmore that has public access to the waters of Lake Washington. It is also one of the few places where natural habitat still exists.
“Much of the shoreline around Lake Washington has been converted into concrete bulkhead,” Murdoch said. “There’s very little fish and wildlife habitat there.”