The new design for sewer lift station #4, located in Gig Harbor’s Skansie Park, is raising concerns with residents.
The proposed design would replace the current sewer lift station and bathroom facilities in the park and also includes a welcome plaza and viewing deck of the harbor. Residents voiced their concerns for the new design Thursday afternoon during a Hearing Examiner session.
Lynn Martin, who has owned property opposite the park on the corner of Harborview Drive and Rosedale Street since 1975, had specific and precise concerns about the new design.
“Size, scale, location and noise,” she stated. “I’m worried it’s going to be party central.”
Other concerns brought forward by residents at the hearing — and in emails and letters to the city — addressed the size of the building and the loss of view and park space.
I’m worried it’s going to be party central.
Lynn Martin, Gig Harbor resident
An additional issue identified by residents is the fear that the historic fishing village and small-town feel of Gig Harbor would be destroyed by constructing a new, larger building on the waterfront.
Jeff Langhelm, the city’s Public Works director, said that the city has worked to mitigate the need for a new building by providing the viewing deck, which would increase the usable park space for the public.
“The lift station needs to be replaced because it’s under capacity, it’s worn out and it’s antiquated,” Langhelm said of the current facility. “We have been trying to find a solution to replace this lift station with a lift station that meets capacity, that is new and that is built to current safety standards.”
The need for a replacement lift station was identified in the city’s 2009 Wastewater Comprehensive Plan, he said.
The lift station needs to be replaced because it’s under capacity, it’s worn out and it’s antiquated. We have been trying to find a solution to replace this lift station with a lift station that meets capacity, that is new and that is built to current safety standards.
Jeff Langhelm, Public Works director
The new, 1,500-square-foot lift station/welcome plaza design includes larger mens and womens bathrooms with ADA stalls, two family bathrooms that include showers and laundry facilities.
The design also includes mechanical and electrical rooms for the machinery associated with the lift station and would improve safety by bringing much of the machinery above ground into a safer space for workers.
“We’re trying to incorporate this plaza into the events that are currently in the park, with bringing it into compliance with currently safety compliances,” Langhelm said.
Langhelm agreed that the building would be larger and would impede views more than the current building. The proposed viewing deck is approximately level with the cupola on the current building.
“It’s going to be a bigger building and it’s going to be closer to the roadway. It will block part of the view,” he said. “ I think it’s going to be a real asset to the community when it’s completed because there will be more amenities.”
Expanding the restrooms in the new design will also eliminate the need for porta-potties during the summer months — the city’s current solution to increased park use.
With changes planned for the park, Langhelm said that the number of parking spaces around the park will remain the same and rules surrounding special event permits — such as no alcohol in the park — will be extended to the viewing deck and welcome plaza.
The fisherman’s memorial will also remain in the park and will be incorporated into a fountain feature that Langhelm said had been shown to the original artist, Alexandre Safonov, who was pleased with the new design.
It’s going to be a bigger building and it’s going to be closer to the roadway. It will block part of the view. I think it’s going to be a real asset to the community when it’s completed because there will be more amenities.
Project costs are estimated at $5.2 million, with half of the funding coming from a utility bond and half from the wastewater budget.
The lift station replacement timeline has been underway for several years:
▪ 2009: Lift Station 4 was identified on the city’s Wastewater Comprehensive Plan as needing replacement in 2011 because of its poor condition.
▪ 2010: An electrical fire, along with continued restroom flooding with seawater during extreme high tides, further hastened the decline of the facilities.
▪ 2011: The city began to consider various locations to construct a new lift station in and around Skansie Park.
▪ October 2014: An architectural design charrette was hosted by the city with pro-bono input from local architects.
▪ January 2015: The concepts from the charrette were presented in an open house to the general public for consideration.
▪ February 2015: A preferred location for the new lift station was identified by the City Council and a project timeline was established.
▪ August: A 30 percent design review was presented to the City Council.
▪ November: A 60 percent design review was presented to the City Council.
▪ March: A 90 percent design review was presented to the City Council.
The design is expected to be ready by the end of April. Construction is planned from Labor Day to Memorial Day 2017.
“We’re trying to maintain a construction schedule that minimizes the impact to the general public by constructing during the off season,” Langhelm said. “We’re trying to minimize the impact on the public in this very public park.”