Reflections from the Ponds

Last night was the much-anticipated Community Meeting.

The residents’ presentation can be viewed here (broken into two due to size):


Presentation Appendix:

Here are the results in relation to our goals:

1. Support function of Raingardens – to decrease run-off into Puget Sound.

Status: Green

Residents continue to recognize the consequences and urgency of Ballard’s run-off issue, and the majority still support the option of Raingardens.

This status remains green. 

2. Eliminate all standing water in Raingardens.

Status: Red

Although the residents were clear that the prototype design—deep depressions conceived to collect and drain large volumes of water—is not acceptable in a neighborhood, SPU largely focused on fixing the ineffective Raingardens. SPU displayed their objective: completed examples of this “Raingarden” type that function based on the deep pits.

This status remains red. 

3. Eliminate all signage. (This may require removal of bump-outs.)

Status: Very Red

“I know this is not what you want to hear,” said SPU. The signage is staying, even though the residents offered alternative solutions (e.g., painted curbs, planted trees at border, painted lanes) and provided examples of similar bump-outs in Portland with no signage. Although SPU has previously stated the signs will look better once the vegetation grows in, the residents provided a superimposed picture of established vegetation to demonstrate how it will not alter the unattractiveness of the signs. No offer to further investigate the issue was given by SPU.

This status changes to very red. 

4. Raise bio-soil so Raingardens are shallow vegetative depressions.

Status: Red

Similar to #2 goal, SPU largely focused on fixing the ineffective Raingardens and displayed their objective: completed examples of this “Raingarden” type that function based on the deep pits.

This status remains red.

5. Improve Raingarden vegetation.

Status: Red

SPU informed the residents more vegetation is slated to be planted in the Spring. Although this is a positive step, the residents maintain the bio-soil must be raised for safety reasons. If SPU proceeds to plant without raising the bio-soil, those plants will need to be removed and replanted later when the bio-soil is raised.

Therefore, this status remains red.

6. Eliminate bump-out if Raingarden is deemed ineffective (a “dud”). Replace street with original plate.

Status: Yellow

SPU will implement alternative drainage methods for the ineffective Raingardens before considering removing these duds. Residents recommend testing extensively before proceeding or not implementing the new drainage at all, as they believe some or all of the ineffective Raingardens are below the water table (they fill up again after being pumped during dry days and remain at same level). After this trial, SPU will consider removing the duds; the option is “not off the table.”

This status remains yellow.

SPU’s Deputy Director, Nancy Ahern, attended the meeting and listened attentively to our issues. (Maybe that was the point of the meeting?) SPU’s presentation was largely redundant, albeit smattered with acceptance of responsibility for gross errors (68% of the project is not functioning up to par—before addressing the aesthetics), and the residents’ passion (i.e. frustration) level was high. There is always hope that someone at SPU will recognize that standing water in a neighborhood is unacceptable, in the functioning and non-functioning ponds, and we shouldn’t have to present nor explain the logistics of this again.

Noticeably absent: Councilmember Mike O’Brien and Mayor Mike McGinn.

More to follow.


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3 responses to “Reflections from the Ponds

  1. Love Disgruntled Neighborhoods

    Hey, glad to read that the city is sticking to its guns and focusing on fixing the drainage issue rather than actually making these function *and* look nice. I’d hate for SPU actually follow through on their original commitment and make these look like what they promised before they ripped up your lawns. Speaking of *your* lawns, I’m also very grateful this on your street and not mine, that way the world is a *much* better place at your expense not mine.

    This is Seattle, where we have a very long history of drawing out problems instead of just fixing them (see Viaduct, The Aurora) — it’s extremely important we maintain this attitude for consistency and am glad to read that SPU (and its wise leaders) are following tradition.

    Vive SPU!

  2. ebr

    It is difficult to know if all property owners who have the rain gardens impacting their property are in favor of these. (Considered a majority at the meeting). Please bear in mind many may have just given up the fight, while others may be infirm or unable to attend the meetings. Safety is important not only for the children, but also the disabled and elderly.

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