Volunteers have made significant progress clearing blackberries, ivy, clematis and a bevy of tennis balls for the East Prospect Street End restoration project being spearheaded by Madison Park resident Gene Brandzel and coordinated through SDOT.
The shoreline street end next to the Seattle Tennis Club is a popular spot to launch watercraft or play fetch in Lake Washington, but 11,000 square feet of public right-of-way south of the street had been overrun by invasive species over the years.
Work to clear the overgrowth started in April, and has made it the entire length of the street end, exposing fertile ground in which Brandzel said 511 native plants will be planted.
Omar Akkari, coordinator for SDOT’s Shoreline Street Ends Program, shared design plans for the habitat restoration project during an Aug. 15 community meeting, which preceded another work party that weekend.
Red flags line the ground where a trail along the ridgeline will run, partly under a thick tree canopy, down to the lake. A fork in the path near where dune grass and other plantings are designed will offer access back to the street. Akkari said clear sight lines are needed for safety and to discourage crime.
Pea gravel will be added in the normal-water mark off the shore to encourage salmon habitat, he said.
Logs from fallen trees will remain near the east end of the restoration area, offering natural play structures for children.
Akkari is SDOT’s first full-time program coordinator for shoreline street ends, and his position and that of two gardeners is funded by fees property owners and maritime businesses pay to use certain street ends around the city. There are 35 Seattle street ends abutting Lake Washington.
Brandzel and his wife, Liz, led the restoration of the 37th Avenue East shoreline street end more than a decade ago. They recently turned over the popular Beaver Lodge Sanctuary to Bruce and Lauri Bayley to steward, freeing them up to tackle East Prospect.
SDOT is pitching in $10,000 in materials for the project, Brandzel said, as well as Akkari’s invaluable time. The total cost of restoring the street end and activating it for public use is $22,000. Brandzel has started a foundation for raising funds for the project, with a goal now of generating $5,000. He is also seeking community support in order to qualify for a grant from the city. He handed out envelopes at the Aug. 15 meeting that people could send back that included letters of committal to at least three hours of planting. People interested in supporting the project with financial or volunteer support are asked to contact Brandzel at email@example.com.
Brandzel said the ultimate goal is to turn over long-term maintenance of the restoration area to the Seattle Tennis Club, which has been supportive of the community effort, but has not made any formal commitment. Akkari said the tennis club helped clear some of the invasive vegetation out with machinery.
Needing to hit a fall planting window, work parties are planned from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7 and 21, as well as Oct. 5 and 19.
Brandzel said he hopes to begin planting on Oct. 5 and, weather permitting, continue on Nov. 2, 16 and 30.
Some residents expressed concerns about teenagers using the restored area for parties during the Aug. 15 community meeting, and also noted people sometimes drive their vehicles to the end of the street end, which causes issues for adjacent property owners. Brandzel said he’s glad people use the beach there for launching boats, but does want to discourage vehicles from going too far down the road.
Efforts by the Madison Park Community Council to rehabilitate the East Prospect Street end in 2015 were stymied by protests by a property owner to the north of the site. That property recently sold for $12.5 million, Brandzel said, which means the street end property is a public amenity worth millions.
A resident walking up from the beach asked Brandzel about the volunteers working in the restoration area, and responded positively when he heard another multimillion-dollar home wasn’t coming in.