SeaTac City Council considers joining Burien on Miller Creek stream project

By Jack Mayne

The SeaTac City Council has tentatively decided to join with the City of Burien and the Port of Seattle in a Miller Creek stream realignment and daylighting project, necessitated by the poor condition of culverts under Des Moines Memorial Drive.

The City of Burien – with SeaTac’s participation – will be important both in terms of sharing in the construction costs and benefits as well as efforts to obtain grant funding for the culvert repair, said Public Works Director Will Appleton.

That project would cost $3.5 million with SeaTac paying $500,000, with $565,000 from Burien and $560,000 from the Port of Seattle. The rest would come from a potential grant from an as-yet unnamed source.

The project will benefit both the cities. The city will give the project a last look prior to likely passage at the Nov. 14 regular Council meeting.

The Council also said goodbye to longtime municipal court Judge Elizabeth Bejarano who is leaving to go into private practice.

Miller Creek fixes
SeaTac’s Miller Creek culvert under Des Moines Memorial Drive on the SeaTac – Burien joint border. A private culvert pipe is in poor condition and led to leaking that has caused sinkholes and sediment in the downstream part of Miller Creek, a salmon bearing stream.

Burien has received a grant from the Federal Aviation Agency, via the Port of Seattle, to design public infrastructure improvement projects in the vicinity of their Northeast Redevelopment Area along Des Moines Memorial Drive.

The goal for this project is to improve water quality and habitat within the creek by flattening the slope of the creek to reduce erosive flows; creating additional floodplain to allow the water to spread out during high flows; restoring and creating high quality riparian habitat along the creek; replacing failing culverts with new fish friendly culverts; and, daylighting a portion of Miller Creek to a natural open channel.

Securing construction funding for this project is currently underway by the City of Burien, and SeaTac’s participation will be important both in terms of sharing in the construction costs and benefits as well as efforts to obtain grant funding.

Appleton said one of the proposed projects provides environmental enhancements to Miller Creek as it leaves the City of Burien and crosses Des Moines Memorial Drive into the City of SeaTac.

This project, which will open to stream to daylight, is currently already underway by Burien, and Appleton said the city construction costs and benefits as well as current efforts to obtain a $1.9 million grant. Appleton says the project has “very good grant funding potential.”

If SeaTac did the project it would cost over $1.37 million versus the half million dollars for the SeaTac owned culvert without the help from Burien, the Port and grant funds.

The project resolves risk of problems from two failing culverts, he said, as well as getting money to help pay the bill from Burien and the Port, plus grants.

Judge leaves
Municipal Court Judge Elizabeth Bejarano is leaving the court to take up a private law practice, said City Manager Joe Scorcio, and the city has a tradition of recognizing departing and long serving city department heads with a symbolic key to the city.

He said he has nothing “but positive things to say” about Judge Bejarano, and “we’ll miss you when you are gone.” Other Councilmembers also praised the judge for her years of exemplary service.

She has been the city’s municipal judge since 2008 and for five year prior she was city judge pro tem.

The Council also was presented with some changes in the fees charged for providing copies of public records to citizens. The matter will be on the Nov. 14 Council agenda for a public hearing.

Getting public records
Senior Assistant City Attorney Mark Johnsen said while the city cannot charge for locating records or making them available to public inspection, recent changes by the Washington Legislature allows for “actual costs” for electronically copying records or a fee set by the state if it would be difficult to set a fee for an individual record request.

The city now posts most records in a searchable format on the new city website City of SeaTac | Home. There previous record requests are listed along with basic city documents, so that any citizens can get many things by simply going to the city site and downloading the needed information. Johnsen said he city is working to get as many matters as possible in an electronic format so that citizens can easily find the information needed.

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