The Washington state capital budget passed at the end of the legislative session late last month includes $795,000 in appropriations for three projects in Ocean Shores.
The tsunami vertical evacuation project will receive $500,000, a project that would extend the North Jetty to the east to provide protection against increasing coastal erosion for the City’s sewer plant was awarded $155,000, and $140,000 has been earmarked for the first phase of the high dunes trail project.
City Council member Jon Martin, who has been doing state legislative liaison work for Ocean Shores for the past three years, described the funding as “the most we’ve received from the capital budget in the past four years,” adding that the city has also received monies from the state through other funding routes in recent years.
Martin attributes the city’s success in the state’s capital budget this time around to pre-session research and making a lot of meetings in Olympia and other places.
As legislative chair of Greater Grays Harbor Inc., he’s been in Aberdeen for regular 7:30 a.m. meetings with local legislators to “talk all things Grays Harbor.” And he’s been to the state capitol in Olympia six times so far this year, using each trip to represent the City as well as his personal business interests.
“If you keep showing up, you’re probably going to get things done,” he observed.
The other part is making the effort to find out what area legislators think may be possible. “The mayor (Ocean Shores Mayor Crystal Dingler) and myself work very well in tandem,” he explained. “We spend a lot of time before the legislative session starts, talking to legislators in terms of ‘What can we get done?’ so we know what to work on.”
Vertical evacuation project
The $500,000 from the state will pay about 42% of the $1.2 million the City will have to provide if is awarded the $4.8 million FEMA grant that it applied for in January, for a vertical evacuation structure.
In the past several months, there have been three local presentations on the subject during which it was suggested that FEMA is looking for locally driven vertical evacuation projects to fund.
The City’s plea to the Legislature described a proposed vertical evacuation structure that would be “centrally located within a few walking minutes of the Elementary School. The structure is planned to hold 800 people but will be built to accommodate three times that many for a short period.”
Dingler said, “we hope to hear by the end of this month” on the FEMA grant application. “If we don’t get this, we will go for it again next year. We pretty much believe in vertical evacuation as the best science to date.”
Sewer plant erosion project
Dingler noted that, “Last year, the Army Corps of Engineers said they will build the North Jetty back to its original design,” and explained that this add-on project would basically extend the existing jetty east to protect the City’s sewer plant from beach erosion which has claimed up to 70 feet of shoreline in recent years.
The City hopes to do the project under a program in which the Corps pays the first $100,000 and the City must provide a 50% match for the remainder. A feasibility study is expected to total about $700,000, with $300,000 to come from the City. The $150,000 from the Legislature will cover half of the City’s required match.
Dingler said the Corp’s jetty rebuilding “is a 10-year project” and “they expect to begin placing rock in 2022.”
High dunes trail project
Although the City is waiting on information regarding wetlands designation and topographic characteristics, the $140,000 from the state should propel the first chunk of this project forward.
The first year of the project is expected to fund the “Damon Trail Demonstration Project,” which will cover the 7/10ths of a mile from Damon Road to Chance a la Mer between the hotels and the beach, to demonstrate the feasibility of the entire trail system. “The wonderful thing about the state money,” Dingler said, “is it helps us take the trail farther than we thought we could.”
The concept, as explained in the City’s appeal to the state Legislature, is for “a 10 foot wide asphalt biking and pedestrian trail through the highest part of the dunes from the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino two miles north of the City, south through Ocean Shores hotel and residential areas for four miles, then across the south end of the peninsula along Marine View Drive nearly two miles to the Coastal Interpretive Center, then connecting to an existing walking and biking trail back to the City business area. Sections of the trail will be ADA compliant so that everyone can enjoy the dune experience including informational kiosks, resting benches and teaching areas along the way.”
The trail is also seen as a way, in some areas, to create access for firefighting equipment and personnel in the event of a fire in the dunes that threatens hotels or residences.
Getting the project underway this year is a possibility, but Dingler said she thinks next spring is more realistic.