Luther Burbank Dock Reconfiguration and Repairs

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

The City's Public Works Department has begun planning for the future of the docks at the Luther Burbank waterfront. Built in 1974, the docks have less than 5 years of useful service remaining. In addition, the fixed height piers are not useful for smaller boats and don't serve the needs of most current boaters or the City's boating programs.

The City is developing a design to replace the south pier with floating docks while repairing the remaining pier, pending possible state and federal grant funding. This work will use the Luther Burbank Park Master Plan to guide the design process. The plan provides a vision of a waterfront activity center centered around small boats including power, sail and paddlecraft. The design will also consider how to make the waterfront more accessible and attractive for the general public.

The City's Public Works Department has begun planning for the future of the docks at the Luther Burbank waterfront. Built in 1974, the docks have less than 5 years of useful service remaining. In addition, the fixed height piers are not useful for smaller boats and don't serve the needs of most current boaters or the City's boating programs.

The City is developing a design to replace the south pier with floating docks while repairing the remaining pier, pending possible state and federal grant funding. This work will use the Luther Burbank Park Master Plan to guide the design process. The plan provides a vision of a waterfront activity center centered around small boats including power, sail and paddlecraft. The design will also consider how to make the waterfront more accessible and attractive for the general public.

Guest Book

Please post your comment below; all comments will be considered as part of the public record and reviewed by staff. Be a good neighbor and keep your comments civil - please refer to our moderation policy for more details.  If you have a question, please submit it through the Ask A Question tool for a staff response.

You need to be signed in to comment in this Guest Book. Click here to Sign In or Register to get involved

On September 17: For safety reasons I believe that having a life ring and stairs coming up from the water in at least two locations needs to be added to the design. I visited Bellevue’s Newcastle and Meydenbaur parks where these features exist. I personally would not vote personal funding for any of the 3 designs without these features being added. Adding these safety features should also help with funding as residents should support safety, especially those with children. People who can’t swim are at the mercy of someone who can being there and helping them. Life ring recommended to be enclosed in a breakable window similar to a fire extinguisher and a sign stating for emergency use only. Submitted by Roger Urbaniak

Paul West 27 days ago

On September 4: I'd be very excited to see a small sail boat community at Luther Burbank, I use Sail Sand Point in Seattle and building a small community of instruction/rental would be a big asset to MI. Sail Sand Point and Mt Baker Rowing Center are a bit far for MI (and other Eastsiders). Submitted by Jason Moss

Paul West about 2 months ago

I support concept 2 with the understanding that dock ladders are part of design and a life ring, preferably enclosed like a fire extinguisher, are added. I would also support lowering parking fees at East Channel boat launch for vehicles without trailers to $5.00. This will encourage more use of kayak/canoe dock especially from car top users and will likely increase use enough to add to overall revenue from launch. Roger Urbaniak

roger urbaniak about 2 months ago

On September 2: I am not interested in concession stands in that there is no room for much, not to mention, I don't want to encourage alot of off-islanders to Luther Burbank Park as it is a small park. And there is no reason for ADA trail leading down the steep hill and if they put it going from the swim area to the docks, that will cause the destruction of mature trees which as you know, I am dead against and tired of keep having to fight...about mature trees being cut down. from Sarah Fletcher

Paul West about 2 months ago

On August 18: I appreciated the opportunity to participate in the Luther Burbank Park (LBP) planning charrette on Aug. 6 on behalf of the Seattle Sea Kayak Club (SSKC). Afterwards, I informed our members of what I learned, I surveyed them about their opinions, and I encouraged them to get involved in the next steps of the process. The purpose of this memo is to fill you in about the information I received from SSKC members. To understand our interests, it might help to understand the nature of sea kayaks and sea kayakers, so I will start with that subject. The nature of sea kayaks and sea kayakers• The characteristics of sea kayaks. Sea kayaks are cumbersome to transport from the car to the launch site. They are long (15-17 ft, and even longer for tandems) and heavy (50-60 lb, plus any gear, water, food, etc).. Usually two people are required to carry them. Some of us have wheels we can use to transport our kayaks, but wheels require a pretty level and straight route. The best launch sites have a route from parking to the beach that is fairly flat and short. Thus, launching personal sea kayaks at either the dock area or the south beach area presents problems that may be insurmountable, even with improvements. • Sea Kayakers. Sea kayaking is like backpacking without the heavy pack. We go towards wilderness and away from the crowds of urban areas. While we do some urban kayaking, our preferred launch sites and routes allow us to stay away from crowds. • Sea kayaks vs motor boats. Some members avoid kayaking on Lake Washington during the summer because of the heavy motor boat traffic. A day of paddling on Lake Washington in the summer typically includes paddling across boat traffic, which is hazardous. And when we travel parallel to boat traffic, the wakes can range from annoying to hazardous. These factors influence the choices we make about when and where to kayak. As a practical matter, any improvements at the dock area that draw bigger crowds, especially motor boats, will make it less useful for sea kayakers. How we currently use LBPThe most common use is to use Calkins Point as a rest stop. Its low gradient beach makes it ideal for landing, exiting, entering and re-launching. A few members report using the south beach or the dock area as a rest stop. A few report using the south beach to launch, but no one uses the dock area to launch. How we might use LBP if improvements are madeA couple members said they might use the dock or south beach areas as a launch site if appropriate improvements were made. But by far the most likely way we would use LBP is as a rest stop.• At the south beach, improvements to the beach north of the swimming beach would allow kayakers to stop for a rest stop near the restrooms. That would also enable users of paddle boards and light recreational kayaks to use that beach as a launch site. • At the dock area, improvements would allow kayakers to use this as a rest stop. A low gradient sand or small stone beach is preferred to a floating dock, but a low floating dock is better than the existing dock (which is unusable for us). The beach would have to be long enough to accommodate several kayaks at one time. What services would we like to see at LBP? Apart from structural improvements, I asked what services members would like to see. Three services were mentioned: restrooms (the most common answer); food service (members mentioned either a food truck or a restaurant such as those at Gene Coulon Park); one person said they might use a kayak rental service. ConclusionsRealistically, the terrain and other characteristics of LBP, especially in the summer when it is so busy, make it unsuitable for launching sea kayaks. It would be more suitable for those carrying light gear, such as stand-up paddle boards or small light recreational kayaks, and for those who will be paddling close to shore. Knowing what I learned in the Aug 6 meeting about land use limitations, I doubt that it would be feasible to make the pathway long enough and straight enough to meet the needs of sea kayakers. We already have several satisfactory launch sites on Lake Washington. What the SSKC members would really like to see is a better rest stop at LBP – a place where we can stop mid-day during a day-long trip. This would include convenient restrooms and a suitable location for landing and re-launching our kayaks. A beach is preferred to a dock, but a low-elevation floating dock would be better than the current docks. Thank you again for the opportunity to be involved in this process. I look forward to seeing the design proposals later this month.Submitted by Ann Kruse for Seattle Sea Kayak Club

Paul West 2 months ago

On August 15: Advertising, Input, and Schedule: • Would recommend notifying public via nextdoor. I was completely unaware of this project and found out by accident when CM Bon made me aware of it in response to a different email. Ironically, this is a project I’ve been pushing for since 2013 and am a strong advocate for Dock replacement. Also, as a neighborhood resident, daily park user, Parent of two disabled children, avid local boater, I’d like to know how to become a stakeholder on the committees? My wife and I dock our boat at Luther 3-4 times a week during the summer to pick people up.• Would also recommend having socially distant meetings somehow. Luther Burbank is a flashpoint and people need to have a chance to review the project and provide input. Most of my neighbors are seniors and they don’t know how to use Zoom and maybe don’t even use PCs. How can high touch groups become engaged?• Even though we use the docks nearly every day, we never saw the signs advertising for the project. We come by boat to pick people up but don’t linger on the docks because they have degraded so much it isn’t pleasant.• How can the city get the message out to the broader community? Answer: Nextdoor. The city seems to only selectively use this forum which is a shame. I cancelled the reporter as the content degraded to the point it wasn’t worth it to keep. Let’s Talk is something that I’ve never signed into until this event. Only a small percentage of People use Let’s Talk. Start a Let’s talk section on Nextdoor and it may be a lot more effective.• Who was there from the island boater community?• I think the deadline was too aggressive for feedback to be provided. Most people haven’t even seen materials yet and might not even be able to access the video as noted above. Many people also don’t use Zoom. o Will the city create a hub during corona where people can come in and provide interactive feedback with masks on?• Many thanks to Deb Estrada for getting the materials out. I have some context now and am very supportive of the project. However, I do not fully understand the scope or objectives.• Thanks also to Paul who called me on Tuesday or Wednesday and provided more context. I also really applaud the city for trying to secure funding. This has been a big miss over the years with MIYFS and other departments. In the event Grants can’t be secured, a renewal of the Parks Levy may need to be created. People are not happy with the way the Legacy Council managed budgets and established priorities. The council was never consistent with their priorities and they weren’t aligned with the community. Defining the scope and objectives of the Luther Burbank Park project is consistent with all of the previous survey data. People like the parks and greenspace. They like things clean, safe, and well kept. As repeatedly stated while on the council, I could sell a parks levy, or a counselor levy, but there is no way an operational levy would ever fly. Targeting funds to specific projects works. People understand where their $$$ and taxes will be going. In addition, it aligns with community values and feedback.Questions and Feedback:Would like to know more about the breakwater. What was done in Bellevue is unsightly and doesn’t allow boater dock space.Define what the docks are used for:• Clearly boaters like using the docks. o How many boats is the city looking at? Hopeful the docks will be returned to their old glory. There should be enough space for at least 20 boats with spaces that can support boats betweek 14-28’ in length Consider making re-establishing 2 spaces for boats 35’ or longer on the North Pier – sometimes the Sea Scout boat docks in this space.o Sunbathing space and docks should be consideredo Fishingo ADAo Sailing Clubo Crew Teamso Paddleboarders/Kyakso Shoreline Vendor/Concessions might be considered – in the 1970’s the concessions were packed.o Proper Signage should be put in place letting people know that boats coming into the docks have priority. The dock sunbathers are creating dangerous situations and are resentful of boaters interrupting their sunbathing and libation. o Whether intended or not, people will bath and swim off docks. Docks should be wide and stable. Floating Piers are nice. The end of the docks are fairly deep and rebuilding and constructing can be costly. If the project can’t be done fully, it may make sense to defer the project until the city can afford it.• Why is YFS a stakeholder? Just Curious• Will food concessions be put back into place?• Shoreline:o from my perspective, not every path must be ADA compliant as long as the destination locations are accessible (e.g. Swim Area, Docks, North Point, Playground)o The paths we’ve been using since the 1970’s between the swim beach and the main docks are eroding. Some fill and shoreline restoration work should be done there. o The park does not need any additional paths at this point if the existing paths can be repaired. • Can Mercer Island create a permanent local sailing club? • What about an MI Crew facility? Crew might be better at Clarke Beach.• City will need to look at city ordinances regarding park use, noise pollution, etc. • Would recommend the city goes back to closing parking gates at 10pm every night as the parks become more popular.• Very glad to see someone from outdoors for all was included• How does one become a stakeholder? I think there needs to be several Stakeholders from the neighborhood included. I saw there was one person who may live close by but the impacts of design will greatly significantly impact the neighborhood.• Consider protecting existing trees from Beavers and also planting larger stately trees where appropriate. (bigtreesupply in Marysville provides large plantings that won’t take 30 years before the trees take root.Over utilizationo The parks, and especially luther Burbank, are at great risk. More and more people are there every day. Last night at 8pm I took the attached photos. People wanted into the park so badly they were parking illegally – see photo. This is an on-going problem as the number of apartments on Mercer Island is increasing. This is particularly hard when the apartments have kids and pets. They aren’t just housing retirees but also families who move here for the schools and safety. They are residents and they need to be able to use the parks safely. Unfortunately, with the regional growth, and the discovery of Mercer Island Parks during Covid, the utilization will increase. The dogpark also draws people from around the region. (e.g. I met a professional Kirkland Dogwalker at the park.). o The dog leash laws must be addressed and enforced. There are too many conflicts occurring (See the Man in Woods Post on Nextdoor). It’s only a matter of time before there is another aggressive conflict. o Plan for the park’s use to increase even if parking isn’t increased. When light rail implements, plan for more people to ride to the MI station during summer and then making the short walk to the park. o Should security Cameras be installed documenting every car that comes in and out of the park and one at the docks? Filming people on the beaches is too intrusive but there are some good high-resolution options to help law enforcement.o What is the public safety plan for the park? In the old days officers would walk to the docks or come in by boat twice a day. It kept the users (mostly kids) in check. Safety matters. Submitted by Tom Acker

Paul West 2 months ago

DATE: August 11, 2020 TO: Paul West; Planning Manager-City of Mercer Island FROM: Trina Contreras; Shoreline District Contract Specialist Joe Miles; Shoreline District Manager SUBJECT: Luther Burbank Docks Design DNR staff appreciate inclusion on the planning meetings with stakeholders and were happy to participate in the first one on August 6, 2020. DNR will not do a full habitat stewardship review on the leasehold until a final JARPA is submitted. As we move forward with the planning and design of the facility DNR is able to continue to provide feedback and support. The August 6th meeting was incredibly helpful for our staff to better understand some of the design components. This memo may help your design team make considerations which incorporate certain design features to improve habitat stewardship at the site. Please feel free to check in as the design process evolves. Lighting: Artificial night lighting on and from overwater structures must be minimized by focusing the light on the decks surface and using shades that minimize illumination of the surrounding environment and reduces glare on the water surface. Exceptions will be made on a site-by-site basis in order to meet safety requirements for commercial uses. DNR will require fixtures which directional point downward onto the docks surfaces and not positioned to illuminate the overhead night sky. Photo depicts directional dock lighting fixture. Night lighting is positioned to stay on dock surface, not shining into the night sky or the waters surface. DNR Photo: Alderbrook Resort, Mason County, WA Treated Wood Use: No treated wood may be used as part of the decking, pilings, or other components of any in-water structures. Treated wood may only be used for above water structural framing and may not be used as decking, pilings, or for any other uses. During maintenance that involves replacement of treated wood, existing treated wood must be replaced with alternative materials such as untreated wood, steel, concrete, or high density plastic; or encased in a manner that prevents metals, hydrocarbons and other toxic substances from leaching out. Breakwater: New fixed breakwaters will not be authorized on state-owned aquatic land. If breakwaters are critical to the safety or protection of a facility, floating breakwaters or wave boards may be authorized, if placed in a manner that does not block the predominant longshore current or fish passage. Existing solid breakwaters must be retrofitted over time to incorporate gaps either through or under the structure that allow for longhsore transport of sediments, fish passage and water circulation. Initial planning designs for the facility’s breakwater outer dock should incorporate grating to the maximum extent possible. Given the that breakwater is proposed to be a concrete monolythic structure DNR recognizes that grating incorporation to the design of the breakwater may be limited however DNR would prefer incorporation of grating. If the design team finds that grating is not feasible DNR will require an engineering explanation as to the need for a solid decked breakwater.Grating on Floating Docks: Floats must have unobstructed grating over at least 50 percent of the surface. For both new and replacement projects floats may reduce unobstructed grating of the surface if it is determined to be required by engineering design. All grating material must have at least 60 percent functional open space or 40 percent or greater multi-directional open space. Grating requirements can also be met if the combination of grated surface area and grating open space are equal or better than the above standards. It was mentioned in the August 6th meeting that the north dock still has a useful life on the decking. DNR recommends a strategy with time commitments for when the solid decking will be replaced with a grated surface. Grating on Gangways: Gangways must incorporate 100 percent grating with 60 percent functional open space or 40 percent or greater multi-directional open space unless other site specific measures that will maximize light are defined in stewardship review. ADA Considerations: DNR recognizes that this facility will meet ADA standards. Considerations for ADA requirements will be incorporated into lease agreement. Please notify DNR land manager as the process moves forward to include DNR in requirements for ADA set by regulatory authorities. Water Depth and Moorage Access: Overwater structures must be located in water sufficiently deep to prevent the structure from grounding at the lowest low water, or stoppers must be installed to prevent grounding, keeping the bottom of the structure above the level of the substrate. DNR prefers a vertical distance from the bottom of vessels to the substrate of 7 feet at low water. One of the alternatives proposed in the August 6th meeting described non-motored vessel moorage on the shoreward most docks. This alternative would meet DNR’s objectives for designs which incorporate minimal disturbance to the substrate from prop scour.

Paul West 2 months ago

On August 6: Here are a few more ideas my 8 year old grandsons mentioned. --lighting on docks and breakwaters---How about reflectors? How about lighting placed inside the docks? How about small elevated lights shining on the docks, not in the water? Lighting is important for evening pedestrian strolling. by Don Cohen, via email

Paul West 3 months ago

On August 5: I believe the social distancing concept should be considered a limitation. One of the criterion to consider in the permitting process is to "reduce the in-water and over-water footprint". As we have seen at other dock areas, social distancing can be difficult in small areas, and thus one considers the design of a new dock area that public health should be considered.... I get the impression from the video that the City would like this area to be "all things to all people". I wonder if a more minimalist approach that focuses on just one or two attributes. There does not appear to be sufficient area to be a true gathering place, but rather one of more transition from water to land or just moving through the area, i.e., pedestrians. by Peter Struck via email

Paul West 3 months ago

On Monday July 27: I'm the conservation chair for the Washington Kayak Club. A floating dock for paddle sports is a great idea. A dock that floats just inches above the water is ideal for entering and exiting small craft. A "rubber" bumper is great as well to easily slide boats on and off the dock. I use the Kenmore floating dock frequently and, although kayaks can launch pretty much anywhere, it's my favorite way to launch. My only other suggestion is to be sure there are free ends and a full side (not obstructed by the anchor pilings) for launching, as sea kayaks can be as long as 20 ft. from Gary Luhm, via email.

Paul West 3 months ago