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 that 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 – which included fencing and signs – 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,” the GeoEngineers report said. “Landing 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.”

Park history
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 “no seawalls, a rarity for this part of Puget Sound,” and included “247 feet of undeveloped shoreline, two acres of tidelands, and six acres of wooded uplands,” says the Burien city website.

The city “obtained 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 “provide 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:

Senior Reporter Jack Mayne passed away in December, 2021. In his honor we have created the Jack Mayne Journalism Scholarship.

16 replies on “Part of Eagle Landing Park stairs – closed since Dec. 2014 – may be re-opened”

  1. What a waste of Taxpayer money! Good idea….Very Bad Location…. How about buying a couple houses on Three Tree Point and build a Usable Park. The old Eagle park has very limited parking…Just like the New Three Tree Family Park … 4 parking spaces at the public launch area. Please use our tax money on a park that is usable.

  2. Also, couldn’t that land be sold and invested into one (or more) of our other underdeveloped parks

  3. Take out the steps put down a rubber or plastic mat. Take the water run off line and direct it towards the mat. Put in a use at own risk sign. Burien’s first public water slide.

  4. These stairs were a key component of my and many others’ fitness. I do not expect the Burien taxpayers to pay to have a park / stairs so that people can exercise. However, if part of the stairs can be re-opened to the public, that would be a huge plus for those in the area who used to the stairs either for fitness, or to just enjoy a walk to the beach.

  5. The city purchased the property thinking there was no sea wall to maintain but this was false. There was and is a sea wall and it failed at the base of Eagle Landing Park due to runoff from an open storm drain. Two million dollars of wasted tax payer funds. If the storm drain was fixed there would be no issues but now the broken sea wall needs repair as well. Are the funds spent “sunk costs” or do we save our prior investment by doing the repairs? The answer is neither- the city cannot admit the mistakes and continues to ignore the problems so it is impossible to come up with solutions. The whole project is a massive waste of tax payer dollars. The rain will come soon and the storm drain will cause more slides and Eagle Landing Park will remain a joke to any common sense geotechnical engineer. The only one benefitting is Geo Engineers as the city keeps giving them consulting fees without admitting a sea wall failed- they still make false claims there is no seawall but anyone walking the beach can see it, touch it, look at the damage, and easily see what happened. John White

    1. John,
      I appreciate that you met with me at the park and perhaps we should do so again. However, I have to disagree you on several points:
      1, This is a nice small park even without the stairs and I’m glad the city bought it. The soil gets saturated and unstable in the winter and migrates down slope. This is the natural situation for most of Burien’s marine shore line. The city knew this and the only mistake made was in estimating how fast this is happening. Unfortunately, the life of the stairs was shorter than expected even with the pin piling design which allows for some soil migration.
      2. The storm drain system comes from a time when all the engineers did was direct the water downhill and out the way. The system works as designed so there is no fix to be made unless you really mean change the design. Currently, the water flows down the draw past the parking area, under the trail, down a short steep slope and onto a wider more gently sloped area. As you showed me, there is surface erosion and a small gully in the steep area. The soil is deposited on the gentle slope below. As you go down slope, visual evidence of water flowing on the surface diminished to nothing. All the runoff seems to seep into the soil. Since it was wet and muddy, you and I went no farther. I later went back and continued down hill. I came to where the trail to the stairs crosses the draw. To the right was the final short steep climb over the hill and down to the stairs , which are in the next draw to the north. Straight ahead was the trail leading down the draw to the gated service entrance on the south boundary of the park. It is obvious that even if there was surface water coming from the storm drain it would follow the draw out the south entrance and not go toward the stairs at all.
      3. When you follow the trail over the ridge and into the next draw to the north you arrive at the top of the stairs. There is no sign of surface runoff or that type of erosion around the stairs. If there was such runoff and erosion, it would be coming down that draw from the right. If looking in that direction, one sees a fence and your house. Thus, if any surface water is causing erosion at the stairs, it is not from the drain at the entrance to the park, but from your property.
      4. In terms of natural run off, it seems that originally all runoff infiltrated into the ground and flowed into the sound as ground water. The current situation simulates that pretty well. The infiltration results in pretty clean water entering the sound. Extending the storm sewer line to the beach would be difficult and introduce pollutants into an already damaged sound.
      5. As I recall, the bulkhead was made of logs placed horizontally and was probably not very high. It seems the soil built up against the logs until it overflowed or displaced some logs. Then it spilled over and onto the beach, essentially burying the bulkhead. Whether one considers the bulkhead to still exist or not doesn’t much matter. Considering the legal and environment issues, bulkheading is out of the question. It seems appropriate to keep this pocket of nature as natural as possible.
      6. There is no easy fix for the stairs issue. Perhaps one solution would be to close them during the wet season and during the dry season open them with a temporary improvised access to the beach at the bottom.

      1. Your point #6 makes sense to me – I never really use the stairs in the wet winter months anyway, particularly during a windstorm with all the trees and blowdown potential. Open the stairs during the drier months, when the days are longer and weather better.

  6. Our family sure misses using the stairs. We still use the trail, but such a shame this happened.

    1. Great idea Ghost! Thanks for posting the link! If we can afford such a big one, why not do one that we can afford. It’s what should have been done in the first place. Leave the ever eroding bank alone. I go for this tower idea!

    2. A stair tower at Eagle Landing would have to be a much higher tower than the NP one as the approach is way different. NP its a road that leads down to the bottom where the stair tower is. At Eagle Landing its a bluff that is much higher than the NP stairs.

  7. The drainage is a real issue, which needs to be fixed all along the 25th to maintain the stability of the hillside. Nevertheless, the city should keep the park open and the remaining stairs in tact and accessible while closing access to the beach and keep the stairs available for people to exercise and enjoy. Anyone who wants to go to the beach can use Seahurst Park. The drainage issue should be seen separate from keeping the park open and the stairs accessible.

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