[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]
Let’s say you wanted to buy Eagle Landing Park. The first thing you would do is hire a geotechnical firm and ask them to advise you on the risks associated with buying the property.
That is exactly what the City of Burien did before buying the beach property now known as Eagle Landing Park.
Back in 2002, the City of Burien paid Shannon and Wilson Inc., a Seattle based geotechnical firm, to do just that. Do what you might ask? To evaluate mass wasting of the property at Eagle Landing. What is ‘mass wasting’ you might ask? Here is the definition:
Mass wasting, also known as slope movement or mass movement, is the geomorphic process by which soil, sand, regolith, and rock move downslope typically as a mass, largely under the force of gravity, but frequently affected by water and water content as in submarine environments and mudflows.
The 2002 report  (PDF file) was paid by taxpayers, and the whole purpose of the report was to make sure we did not buy a faulty piece of land. In that report it states there was no bulkhead. I will quote here exactly what it says about bulkheads on Eagle Landing Park:
“…on the subject property, the shoreline is unprotected; however, a number of logs, ranging from 6 to 36 inches in diameter lie on the upper margin of the beach, offering some protection to the toe of the slopes. Just south of the property, a 4-foot-high rock bulkhead protects the shoreline around a concrete storm water energy dissipator. This property is owned by the Seahurst Community Club. To the south of this strip of land, private residences are protected by concrete bulkheads”
What you just read is exact word for word in this report. No mention of a bulkhead on the property. This of course is a giant mistake that has led to the failure of our stairs and to the closing of Eagle Landing Park’s beach access.
It is also a coverup.
Even now the city has not admitted this geotechnical report was in error. Even as I write this you can go onto the city website and read the claims we bought this property because it had no seawalls to maintain. Why should the city defend Shannon and Wilson? Why should we taxpayers put up with this nonsense?
What is surprising to me is if you go to the Eagle Landing Park city website right now and scroll down you will see a link to a citizen’s website . It is a very nice site which is full of wonderful photos of Eagle Landing Park. Go quickly because if the city reads this they may take it down. Click on it. Go to this citizen’s photo gallery . Look at the photos showing the Eagle Landing Park slides of 2008 and 2009 .
These photos show slides not at the beach but up the hill 50 feet or more. The slides show a bulkhead as it is failing. It is not failing from sea or tidal action but from the storm drain at the top of the park.
Is it time for our city council members to investigate the costs of the mistakes of these geotechnical firms? They charge our city tens of thousands of dollars for these reports for the main purpose of helping us avoid these issues.
We need to stop defending them and start holding them accountable. If we were smart we would sue them and ask their insurance company to pay to fix the stairs. Its this possible? Yes it is possible.
Today we have yet another geotechnical firm named Geo Engineers doing the work at Eagle Landing Park. Their report  (PDF file) is what led up to the park’s stair closure. Again, no mention of a failed bulkhead.
We need to seriously consider an audit of these two geotechnical firms’ work for our city and evaluate whether we should continue to do business with them. It is costing us dearly. We deserve better.
Let’s get our stairs back and open up the only other park we had that granted public access to the beach. We paid for it, let’s have an open discussion about these geotechnical errors and solve these issues. In the process we might discover that those responsible may consider writing a check to fix it.
It’s cheaper than a lawsuit.
– John White
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