The Kent City Council approved several land swaps between its Public Works and Parks departments to help keep the Lower Russell Setback Levee project on the Green River rolling along.
The council approved a resolution that declared property within the city’s Green River Natural Resources Area and Van Doren’s Landing Park as surplus and authorized the reallocation of those properties between the Public Works and Parks departments. The measure also allows the mayor to remove any use restrictions from the properties so the levee can be constructed to improve flood control and fish habitat.
“With the property swaps, some had covenants on them that require that they don’t allow to be developed,” said Toby Hallock, Public Works engineer, in a Dec. 10 report to the council. “We are within the law to transfer covenants to other properties, so the new park won’t be developable and the same with the Green River Natural Resources Area.”
It’s all part of the estimated $52 million project that will take about four years to complete as crews install a flood wall, create new fish habitat areas as well as relocate and reconstruct the city’s Van Doren’s Landing Park. Work started in August by the King County Flood Control District to install the flood walls. The 1.4-mile levee runs between South 212th Street and Veterans Drive (South 231st Way).
A property tax of about 16 cents per $1,0000 assessed value funds the King County Flood Control District, which will cover most of the project costs. The property tax levy, approved by the county council in 2007 to raise funds for flood protection, brings in about $60 million per year, according to county officials. The state kicked in about $7 million and the city of Kent about $1 million.
The former park location will become a fish habitat with a back channel area to be planted with native plants and trees, Hallock said. The levee work is along the east side or right bank of the river.
Crews will move the park to the east into the Green River Natural Resources Area, also owned by the city. In total, Public Works will increase its property by 3 acres and Parks by 0.5 acres.
Deputy Parks Director Brian Levenhagen told the council the relocated park will have all the same amenities such as restrooms and picnic shelters, but will add several more. The new amenities will include an observation tower, Mount Rainier-themed playground, pickleball court, Wiffle ball field, a loop trail and additional parking.
“We want to make sure this is a destination park to make up for lost river access,” Levenhagen said.
The new park will have 200 feet of river access compared to 1,200 feet at the current location.
Bicyclists and walkers will get a new separated Green River Trail on top of the levee so they no longer have to share Russell Road with vehicles. Russell Road will become a dead end, at the northern part of it closest to South 212th Street.
“The new separated trail will take people off of Russell Road so it’ll be safer and a better recreational experience,” Levenhagen said. “It will make this whole area of the trail a lot more accessible. It was the last piece of trail not separated.”
Crews will relocate the Russell Woods parking lot to along Russell Road rather than at its difficult to access location near the river. The parking lot will be paved while the current lot is gravel.