FAQs on the Proposed Water Tower

Now that we have your attention….

This is a stock image of two ghastly water towers, NOT what the City of Olympia Public Works Department has in mind for its property in the LBA Woods. That water tower was the subject of a February10th public meeting hosted by Public Works and Olympia Parks Department to answer questions and address concerns of the citizenry.  Thanks to all the e LBA Woods Park Coalition supporters who were in attendance and to members of the Leadership Team (Bob Wadsworth, Cristiana Figueroa-Kaminsky, and Deb Jaqua) who took notes which are presented below in a Q&A format. The water tower and access road is referred to as “The Project.”

  • What is the expected actual acreage of The Project?    The site the City acquired is five acres but the tower and fenced area around it will take one acre or less.
  • What is the rush to build now in view of an uncompleted park-development plan  There won’t be a park-development plan for some time according to Dave Hanna. There are mandates that create urgency for building The Project.  These mandates are not critical at the moment but come from the Department of Health (requiring taking an existing tank on Hoffman Rd. off line for routine cleaning), population growth, water volume and pressure for firefighting and a need for tank redundancy to meet emergencies.
  • Why was The Project sited in a wetland? The site is on impermeable substrate where even if it is not a low spot that floods after rain. The plan for dispersing excess water is just to let it drain into the surrounding forest.  There was no mention of issues around flooding into nearby neighborhoods.
  • What mitigation is planned to recognize that the land surrounding The Project will be a park and not a housing development? The Project planners recognize that the assumptions have changed from the land becoming a development to now most likely a park (official acquisition is set for July 2016) and will coordinate with the Parks Department. Disturbed areas will be revegetated and trails rebuilt after the work is complete.
  • How will you mitigate for a tower that will be at least twice the height of surrounding trees? [INSERT PHOTO] One of the illustrations showed a view of the tower as seen from a ball field in LBA with a row of poplars shielding most of the view of the vicinity of the tower.  Presumably, the angle of view means that the trees that are closer to the viewer look taller than the tank and shield it from view.
  • How will you coordinate planning for both the park and the tank installation to reduce destruction of park values (open space, habitat, canopy cover, trails, etc)?  The Parks Department has been involved in the Project planning process. Dave Hanna pointed out that because the Trillium purchase will remain undeveloped for some time, there is no clear picture of the conflicts that might arise from the two developments.  He did point out there was interest in locating future/potential soccer fields so that the access road portion of The Project does not run through them.
  • What was the process to determine the current proposed location vs. next to the Hoffman Rd. tower or other sites? According to Andy Haub, after the City agreement to purchase Trillium as parkland, the engineers re-examined the Hoffman Rd. tank site to determine if there was enough land to accommodate a second tank. They determined that the site could not accommodate the tank of the size proposed for the LBA Woods, nor could the site accommodate a smaller tank—even if they purchased an adjacent property (which is not currently for sale).  If an alternate site were found, the Public Works Departement would have to sell the five-acre parcel acquired for The Project in the LBA Woods to another City Department.  No cost/benefit analysis has been done for alternative sites.
  • Could the access road be through the Wilderness development to reduce impact to the forest?  There is still a requirement to run a 16-inch pipe from Morse-Merryman and this requires a maximum 55 ft. right of way, which would need to be cleared of vegetation to accommodate vehicles relate Project construction and maintenance.  This access road could be aligned to reduce impact. Suggestions were made to align the road and pipes along current trail on east side of current LBA Park to Morse-Merryman.
  • How will you block unauthorized vehicle entrance to the park along the service road once construction is complete? A gate at the Morse-Merryman and Sugarloaf St. entrance.
  • When does the SEPA/EIS process begin? SEPA (State Environmental Review Process) and EIS (Environment Impact Statement) process will not start until The Project plan is complete.

Please check back for information on future meetings and additional answers to FAQs.