On Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023, Melessa Rogers and fellow members of the Neighbors of Seahurst Park (NSP) gathered to dedicate a new bench at the waterfront park near the Environmental Science Center.

After many years of work preserving Seahurst Park from encroaching development, the group is passing the torch. Along with the new bench, NSP is donating their remaining funds, amounting to $32,000 to the Environmental Science Center (ESC).

Joanna Stodden, ESC’s Executive Director, was present along with Lisa Aumann who works for the City of Burien. Aumann’s team has been instrumental in getting the bench permitted and helping the project come to fruition; Melessa Rogers mentioned how easy the whole process has been.

Neighbors of Seahurst Park formed around the turn of the century in response to the threat of a major development along Seahurst’s northeast border. The development would put wetlands and salmon habitat, as well as the ravine itself, at risk. The group passed out information fliers at gatherings like Music in the Park, inviting the public to meetings that were attended by hundreds of concerned citizens. 

According to Rogers, the grassroots community group became an official 501c3 in 2006. The NSP paid for an official measurement of the wetlands in question. They eventually took the developers to court in 2013, and won their suit. The developer, Emerald Pointe, had to amend their plans in order to reduce harm to wildlife. The site now requires a smaller building footprint, permeable parking, a rain garden on the roof, and an indoor pool instead of an outdoor one that would harm salmon habitat. Though Emerald Pointe has renewed permits repeatedly, to date they have not built on the site.

Rogers believes the developers have given up for now, though it’s possible development of the site will commence in the future. The NSP has done as much as they can over the past two decades to protect the 185-acre park for both humans and animals. For more details on this issue, check out this article and this Letter to the Editor. The new bench can be found in front of the ESC’s Marine Technology Center, just north along the beach trail from the lower Seahurst parking area. It is in a perfect spot to sit and enjoy the view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

Funds donated to the Environmental Science Center support their environmental education programs. The ESC partners with schools throughout Burien and nearby cities, bringing environmental science to around 100 classrooms, as well as bringing kids to nature through field trips. The ESC also hosts an annual moonlight beach walk as well as bird and plant walks throughout the year. They have a program that brings seniors from retirement homes on field trips as well, to experience nature in parks.

Students from Big Picture Middle School were also present at the bench dedication. It coincided with the first day of their yearlong program, during which they will come to Seahurst twice a month to work with ESC naturalists. They’ll spend their mornings working in the park on nature restoration projects of their choosing, and their afternoons learning science inside the Marine Technology Center.

Below are some photos from the dedication (click arrows or swipe photos to view slideshow):

Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in Burien. She has volunteered at many local establishments over the years, including the Burien Library, Burien Actors...