Beachgoers to benefit from massive shoreline project

Beachgoers to benefit from massive shoreline project
The current shoreline along Seahurst Park in Burien. (Photo courtesy Burien Parks and Recreation).

BURIEN, Wash. - Beach enthusiasts will be forced to find another place to visit once the city temporarily shuts down Seahurst Park, preparing to undertake the largest shoreline restoration project on the Puget Sound.

Over the past 10 years city staff has been working on plans to remove more than 3000 feet of concrete seawall lining the shore along Burien's busiest park. In 2005, Steve Roemer, parks development and operations manager for the city, says they were able to make progress on the south side of Seahurst, removing and restoring 1400 feet of failing seawall but that's as far as they got.

"Ever since then we have been trying to put together money and support to do the same thing on the north end," Roemer says. "It's a lot bigger, more complicated area."

Roemer says cost estimates to complete the north end total around $7.5 million - money the city wasn't able to get its hands on fully until now.

"This year everything fell into place," Roemer says.

Through a competitive grant process, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recently awarded $12 million to a handful of local governments, tribes and non-profit organizations for projects focused on protecting and restoring the natural shorelines around Puget Sound. Out of that $12 million dollars, Roemer says they received more than $1.2 million for the Seahurst Park project.

"This is a huge deal for an agency our size," he says. "This restoration will be the largest bulkhead removal, shoreline restoration project on the Sound and it's a big deal for a city our size."

Roemer says the money will be used to remove about 2,000 feet of concrete seawall, about 1,200 feet of large beach and seawall toe rock, restore natural beach slopes, plant thousands of riparian plants, and provide the park's 400,000 annual visitors better access to the beach.

"Right now it's tough to get from the lawn areas on top down to the beach and walk around," Roemer says. "There are not a whole lot of access points."

Construction at Seahurst Park is expected to start this fall. Roemer says during that time the park and the beach will be closed to the public. The hope is to finish the restoration by May 2014.