Decision on Smith Cove

By reporter Steven Smalley

It took years of wrangling for all involved to finally bring an end to the question of what to do with the land at Smith Cove following the installation of a 1.9 million-gallon underground sewer overflow tank ? it?s one big park. ?Most people think you can?t fight city hall,? declares Elizabeth Campbell, Magnolia community activist and long-time opponent of a land swap desired by the Port of Seattle. ?It?s very satisfying,? she said, speaking of the outcome that puts aside any ideas of trading properties. ?It?s a difficult road that?s taken many years.”
With pressure from King County, the City of Seattle, and the Magnolia community, the Port has agreed to accept payment for land just south of the Magnolia Bridge? which currently holds some miscellaneous equipment and fishing nets. Figuring out?the price the county will pay is still in the works.

King County Council Member, Larry Phillips had a big hand in the effort to construct a park atop the entire ?lid? covering the overflow tank. The adjacent property will also be incorporated into a park, with design decisions to be determined. ?This has been a long-held dream for me to get to this point,? Phillips says. ?It?s very rewarding and satisfying to know it will be a park opportunity for the?communities of Queen Anne and Magnolia. It?s going to be great.?

The county must first buy the land from the Port, build the overflow tank, then sell the land to the city which will then build a park covering what is currently two separate parcels. The County is slightly behind schedule building a tub intended to hold runoff water from storms that overwhelm the waste-water system 4-5 times per year. These overflows pour raw sewage to into Elliott Bay, causing pollution.

As a result of this decision, Seattle City Council Member Sally Bagshaw, who was also pivotal in negotiations, envisions a hiking trail from Lake Union and Queen Anne that will wrap around and come out at the Elliott Bay Marina. She was steadfast against the land swap. ?I?m thrilled three governments came together to do the right thing. This decision puts more property into the hands of the citizens,??says Bagshaw. ?The new leadership at the Port? is a breath of fresh air. They deserve a bouquet.?

Along with the fabrication of the overflow vessel, corresponding pipes leading to it require additional construction and placement.