June 18

Maple Leaf Park vs. Maple Leaf Reservoir – one piece of ground, two separate projects

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Reading through some of the 20-plus comments on our initial Maple Leaf Reservoir Park story this week it’s clear there is keen interest in the park, and also in the massive reservoir dig that started last winter.

It’s perhaps worth pointing out that none of the construction we see at the site today has anything to do with the future park. There is no causal link between today’s cranes and the park work that will begin in two years. There is a direct link, though, to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

All those workers and machines and all that expensive concrete and steel on view at the site are there to bury the Maple Leaf Reservoir. The city started covering some open-water reservoirs in the late 1990s; the program picked up speed after the World Trade Center’s collapse. “Protecting our water system became a paramount goal since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Under-ground reservoirs are the most effective way to improve security,” Seattle Public Utilities writes.

The Maple Leaf dig is the last, and largest, piece of the city’s program, which began in 2006, to bury four open reservoirs for a total cost of about $150 million. We’re paying for it through our water bills at an average of $3.24 a month last year. The price of the Maple Leaf chunk is $27.4 million plus tax. Federal stimulus dollars are paying for some of the construction, SPU says.

The park plan has not been sitting on a shelf. It was born when 59 percent of city voters approved lifting the property tax lid for the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy. The levy raises $146 million that goes to half a hundred projects around the city. The Maple Leaf Reservoir Park  gets $5.5 million of that.

The park is being designed now. Construction – which won’t be nearly as massive as burying the reservoir – starts in summer 2012.

About the author 

Sara W

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