Photos from 2015 courtesy City of Burien
By Jack Mayne
Whether or not to re-open the stairway at Eagle Landing Park is still under consideration by Burien officials following a report from a consultant thatÂ recommends re-opening a part of the structure.
As many of our Readers may recall, these stairs were closed in December, 2014 due to erosion and slide dangers that made them unsafe. Yet despite the closure â€“ which included fencing and signs â€“ evidence shows that people have still found their way onto the structure.
City Manager Kamuron Gurol said that staff agrees this new proposal would provide access to a portion of the stairs for exercise and recreation while also providing a safety buffer from the slide and the associated trees that fell below.
Gurol said the Council will be asked to approved costs once they are determined.
The consultant said they toured the site and found at the crest of the slope where the stairway starts there were warning signs placed by the city along with a fence keeping people from climbing on the stairs.
“However, an unauthorized trail was present along the north side of the stairway that followed along the stairway for the first two landings,” the consultant’s eport said. “In addition to the vertical fencing at the top of the head of the stairs, trail users were also restricted from using the upper part of the stairs by fencing that had been placed over the stairs.
“However, once this fencing ended, the remainder of the stairs could be accessed by park users that had climbed over the railing.”
The consultants said that in the past year and a half, the landslide area next to the stairs has moved up the slope about 45 to 50 feet.
“Therefore, it is reasonable to anticipate that within the next year or two, assuming the rate of regression upslope is similar, both trees could topple from landslide activity.” The consultants added that “it appears unlikely the conifer tree would fall on stairway users”but that it could destroy the lateral support of the seventh landing.
“This would leave stairway users at risk if the structure were to remain in place and was not blocked adequately from public use.
“To reduce risk to trail users, we recommend that the landings and stairways from Landing 6 downslope be demolished and removed from the slope,â€ the GeoEngineers report said. â€œLanding 6 should have railings installed that reduce the ability of users to jump over them.
We recommend that the City further discourage pioneering of trails down the slope to reduce the potential for slips, trips and falls on improperly formed trails. This could be accomplished by fencing, signage, increased railing heights or other means.”
The City Council in April 2002 voted to buy property that would become Eagle Landing Park for $954,866 from the Branson family.
The eight-acre site had â€œno seawalls, a rarity for this part of Puget Sound,â€ and included â€œ247 feet of undeveloped shoreline, two acres of tidelands, and six acres of wooded uplands,â€ says the Burien city website.
The city â€œobtained grants to purchase the site, and provide $300,000 toward developing a beach access trail and protecting marine riparian and second-growth forest, “and the Council said its vision for the park was to â€œprovide an open space where community education and access are in harmony with habitat and critical area preservation as represented in the grant process.”
After the property was purchased, another $824,135 was spent to develop it. It was officially opened as a park in June 2005, and was closed in Dec. 2014, when these photos were taken: