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King County unanimously approves Kent's levee repair plan

After weeks of debate, the King County Flood Control District Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the $17 million Kent proposal to fix a Green River levee.

At a meeting Tuesday in Seattle, eight board members – Councilwoman Kathy Lambert was absent – passed Kent's levee repair plan that intends to build flood walls along the 2.5-mile Briscoe-Desimone levee to protect surrounding businesses.

The county had proposed setback levee options estimated at costs of more than $63 million and up to $416 million because of the need to buy property and move businesses to expand the levee.

Minor revisions to the proposal were approved, including the clarification that there are four outside bends of the Green River between South 200th and South 180th and four walls to be built. Wording to include the city of Tukwila also was revised.

Councilman Larry Gossett, who originally voted against recommending the Kent proposal at the executive committee meeting, proposed a separate amendment to address the cost the city of Kent would be responsible for in the maintenance of the project, depending on inflation."It's about time," Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke said of the decision. "I am thrilled that we were able to work as a group in finding a path forward. My biggest concern is that we get started immediately ..."

Cooke's urgency stems from the potential loss of the $7 million state grant awarded by the Legislature last year if a decision could not be made soon. The flood district executive committee hired an independent engineering consultant to suggest the most cost effective plan that also aligned with the goals of all parties involved. Ultimately, the consultant favored Kent's plan.

"There was a lot of give and take," said County Councilman Reagan Dunn. "Getting a unanimous vote is something I feel very good about, and it sets a precedent of moving forward."

Community members and business representatives were able to voice their opinions as well. Present at the meeting was Dan Sibson, senior vice president of the IDS Real Estate Group. IDS Real Estate Group and Clarion Partners recently purchased about 70 acres of land in the Kent Valley from The Boeing Co. that falls within the borderlines of the flood plain. The partners planned to develop the area this spring.

The Kent proposal's design is to be completed this summer so that construction on the flood walls can begin in the fall.

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