Planning for the future of Willow Creek, Marsh | Looking Forward

By Stefan Carlson and Neil Tibbott | Mar 26, 2015
Stefan Carlson

I have lived in Edmonds for 19 of my 23 years, and I had never been to a city-sponsored community meeting until I attended the Marina Beach Master Plan Open House on March 4.

I was excited to learn about how my city makes decisions, but I wasn’t sure what to expect.

How would I be received? Would my voice be valued?

Everyone that I interacted with, from the greeters to the people at my table, helped me understand that I was welcome simply because I call Edmonds “home,” and that our common ground was more important than our differences.

I walked away a few hours later feeling extremely grateful for the opportunity to participate in my city’s decisions, and all the more proud to call Edmonds “home.”

I love Marina Beach, and evidently, I’m not the only one who does.

One of the first things I learned at the open house is that Marina Beach is the most used park in Edmonds, and over 40 community members showed up to discuss it’s future.

The Marina Beach Master Plan is all about improving Marina Beach for future generations along with improving salmon habitat.

According to the plan’s website (, this will be done by “restoring Willow Creek to become a more natural, aboveground stream.”

The City of Edmonds was given a grant of $157,331 from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

The grant has allowed the city to develop preliminary designs and submit permit applications according to the city’s press release.

Currently, Willow Creek runs between the Edmonds Marsh and the Puget Sound through an underground pipe.

If the creek ran aboveground, salmon would be able to re-inhabit the marsh as a prime place for feeding and growing before re-entering the Sound.

As an added bonus, “daylighting” the creek would also help to decrease stormwater flooding along Highway 104.

Besides the possibility of updating the park for humans, the improvement plan helps roll back the environmental impact of filling in the marsh decades ago and separating it from the Puget Sound with a pipe.

The plan is to bring the creek above ground and either run it through the dog park (OLAE) or through the lawn area that stands between the parking lot and the beach with all the driftwood.

If the creek ran through the lawn, it would follow its historic direction more closely, and there would probably be less erosion on the banks.

However, it would also mean less space for people to play on the lawn, and it is a more expensive project.

If the creek ran through the dog park, it would take a sharp corner that creates a higher potential for erosion, and it would flow into shoreline drift and waves.

This route would also require fencing and other barriers to separate salmon from their four-legged adversaries.

Are those our only options? Actually, at the Open House someone mentioned running the creek along the parking strip, in between the dog park and the lawn. This seems to be a valid option. It just requires more research.

Looking forward

The next open house is scheduled for May 6, and a third open house in June will reveal the preferred plan for Marina Beach.

So what does the future hold?

The location of Willow Creek has yet to be decided. We’ll also have to wait on the possibility of permanent restrooms, more parking and fire pits on the beach.

But we do know that one day one of our favorite parks in Edmonds will have a natural creek flowing through it.

One day we will be able to walk up to the water’s edge and watch salmon swim by as we listen to the flowing water of Willow Creek.




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