Whidbey Examiner


Town council signs off on stormwater park

By JUSTIN BURNETT Whidbey Examiner Staff
December 20, 2012 · Updated 4:09 PM

Coupeville Engineer Greg Cane and Planner Larry Kwarsick go over plans for the stormwater remediation project off NE Ninth Street. The facility will treat stormwater for a 90-acre residential watershed basin. / Justin Burnett photo

Plans for a forward-thinking stormwater remediation facility on an undeveloped property off NE Ninth Street took a big leap forward last week.

In an unanimous 4-0 vote, the Coupeville Town Council wrapped up the last part of the land permitting process when it approved a conditional use permit for the 1.2 acre stormwater park.

Councilman Bob Clay called the move a “wonderful step” for the town as it’s a demonstration of Coupeville’s willingness to invest in new and innovative techniques to treat stormwater.

The town is pursuing the project of its own accord at a time when other communities are being forced to take steps to address their stormwater woes.

“We’re fortunate enough to take the first steps on our own,” Clay said.

“We’re ahead of the curve, I think,” he said.

Similarly, Councilwoman Dianne Binder called it an “award-winning” project and said she won’t be surprised if it’s recognized by the Association of Washington Cities once completed.

“It’s a step ahead,” she said.

The new facility, which town officials say will be the first of its kind on the West Coast and serve as a model for other Puget Sound communities, will function as the final stage of stormwater treatment for a 90-acre residential watershed basin that drains into Penn Cove.

The property was donated to the town for the project by Coupeville residents Chuck and Sandy Poust and is located behind the Coupeville Wastewater Treatment plant on the south side of NE Ninth Street.

The planned park will work by filtering stormwater through a system of three cells, most of which will be located underground. Each cell will be packed with wetland-type vegetation, making the facility look very much like a garden.

While the council was overwhelmingly supportive of the nearly $700,000 project, more than $495,000 of which will be covered with grant funds, the planned vegetation and several recent design changes were a subject of concern at the meeting.

“The design is radically different from what we originally saw,” Councilwoman Molly Hughes said. “Really different.”

The council was briefed months before with early design possibilities but nothing was ever decided. Plans have since been reviewed by the Ebey’s Landing Historic Preservation Commission, however.

In a later interview, Hughes said she liked the newer plans better than the original but that she would still like to see the final designs before the project gets started.

In the end, it was agreed that the facility design would come back to the council in January. Also, finalized designs will go back before the preservation commission for additional review.

Despite her concerns, Hughes was as excited about the project as the rest of the council. She congratulated Planner Larry Kwarsick and Engineer Greg Cane for their work on the project.

“Good work guys,” she said.

Mayor Nancy Conard did offer a word of caution, saying there is a check point later in the process. Once the design work is completed, the town will have to review the budget to ensure there are adequate funds for construction, which is expected to begin during the summer of 2013.

“We’re being a little cautious about this because it is groundbreaking stuff,” she said.

Councilwoman Jackie Henderson was not present during the meeting, as she was away on an approved absence.


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