Thornton Creek Alliance Meeting January 24th

thorntoncreekalliancelogoThe Thornton Creek Alliance‘s monthly meeting will be Thursday, January 24th with the theme “How’s The Water Quality In Thornton Creek?” Featured guest speakers will be Jonathan Frodge, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) Stormwater Scientist, and Sherell Ehlers, SPU Stormwater Policy Advisor. You’ll learn the results of a recent 2-year bacteria study, and a status report on the revision of the stormwater code. There will also be updates on the confluence project, 92nd Street culvert, Beaver Pond Natural Area plans, and future program.

The meeting begins at 7 PM at the Meadowbrook Community Center, 10517 35th Avenue NE.

Trash Pickup In Victory Heights On Friday This Week

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) reminds residents who usually have their trash picked up on Thursday (like most of Victory Heights) that due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday, the pickup will be on Friday this week. Recycling and disposal stations will also be closed on Thanksgiving.

Here are some fun facts:

What’s Seattle’s least liked Thanksgiving dish? Last year, giblets edged out green bean casserole and aspic as the dish Seattle residents would most likely put in their food and yard waste cart after the holidays.

Seattle residents can place all of their unwanted Thanksgiving leftovers, such as turkey bones, celery, yams, potatoes, fruitcake and paper napkins in their food and yard waste carts. The food scraps will be made into compost for local gardens and parks.

Don’t be a turkey- keep sewers fat-free! Property owners are responsible for their side sewer connections to the city’s sewer system. Sewer clogs often happen during the holiday season when disposing of leftovers.  You can prevent this by pouring used dairy products, fats, oil, grease or greasy foods into a lidded container and placing it in the trash – NOT down the sink drain.

Keep storm drains clear: To help prevent street flooding, the city is asking Seattle residents to remove leaves from storm drains in their neighborhoods with a rake or broom (if it can be done safely), collect fallen leaves in their yards, and compost or properly dispose of them in yard waste containers.

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Knickerbocker Restoration Would be “First In The Nation”

Mike “Rocky” Mrachovec of SPU outlined the Knickerbocker Floodplain project Thursday.

The Knickerbocker Floodplain Project on Thornton Creek will include innovative subsurface restoration techniques that would be the first of its kind in the nation and part of a studied, living laboratory, according to Mike Hrachovec of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU).  Mike, known to everyone as “Rocky,” is a SPU engineer who has been designing the floodplain restoration on and off for seven years as funding came in leaps and starts. He gave an enthusiastic talk Thursday night at Sacawajea Elementary School as part of SPU presentation for local residents about the project which is planned to begin construction next summer.

Nearly two dozen members of the public attended including the original Knickerbocker family the site is named after (they sold the first parcel to SPU and the Parks Department including their house just south of NE 100th which has since been demolished). Cheryl Eastberg with the Parks Department began the meeting by describing the history of the project and acquisitions of property around Thornton Creek including the Rossi property on the south side of Thornton Creek that was accessed via the wooden bridge at the end of NE 100th Street (which will be replaced by a rock ford once the project is done).

Katherine Lynch then talked about the funding that made the project happen. Although the city has been interested in creating the floodplain for the past seven years, funding had all but dried up two years ago just as plans had finally been developed. A grant from the King County Conservation District helped move the project forward, while the Thornton Creek Watershed Oversight Committee sought out further funding which finally came from the Washington State Department of Ecology, the EPA, and most importantly Sound Transit which kicked in for floodplain mitigation as part of its Northgate Light Rail station project.

The main goals of the Knickerbocker project are 1) improve instream and riparian habitat, 2) optimize floodplain storage and slow peak flows, and 3) serve as a demonstration project. “Rocky” then began describing the process of engineering which he called, “an incredibly complex design.” Using the area of the creek just west of NE 102nd as a model for what the Knickerbocker site should look like (though with more large wood), he said the city needed to correct what been engineering dogma throughout the 50s and 60s, namely taking out any large trees and installing retaining walls.  “We shattered the habitat in the process,” he said. The Knickerbocker project will rip out the rockeries and retaining walls, remove 9,000 yards of dirt and replace it with logs (mainly under the surface) and create a floodplain.  Restoration will not only occur on the surface (with indigenous plants and rerouting and widening the creek), but under the surface as well by rebuilding the entire subsurface, a first-in-the-nation effort.  He admitted it would be “a radical experiment in stream ecology,” and “we’re just making educated guesses,” but as part of an ongoing plan the area would be monitored and studied extensively with adjustments made where needed. If you would like to see an extensive 30-page technical drawing of the project, check out this pdf from the city.

Project manager Arnel Valmonte talked about scheduling. Right now the project is at “90% design.” If any changes are to be made, now is the time. They hope to finish the design work by May 2013 and have all the permitting done. The earliest they could begin is June 2013 and wrapped up by the end of October.  They need to work around the fish window giving them between July 1st and August 30th as the creek is diverted into pipes while the construction goes on. An 80 foot bridge will replace the current one over Thornton Creek (part of the 20th Ave NE walkway), and they are timing it not to interfere with the school year as many students use it to access Sacawajea from Victory Heights.

Contractors in theory work from 8 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday but have the discretion to work past those hours and on weekends. Neighbors will be kept informed of activity if it impacts them. There will be noise and vibrations associated with the work, and the city will attempt to deal with problems with nearby residents.

Finally, Deb Hayden talked about the future of the site after construction is completed. “Our intention is to let the site grow naturally,” she said, but other than noxious weeds and invasive species being managed they want to remain hands-off. Sound Transit would assume responsibility for managing and maintaining the site (i.e. be paying the bills) for the first five years, after which it would be the domain of the Parks Department. “We’re open to feedback,” was the message.

Visit the City’s official Knickerbocker Floodplain website.

Knickerbocker Floodplain Project Meeting November 15

The next in a series of community meetings (read about the first here) about the Knickerbocker (Thornton Creek) Floodplain Project will be held Thursday, November 15th at Sacajawea Elementary School beginning at 6:30 PM. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and Seattle Parks & Recreation are restoring several hundred feet of the south branch of Thornton Creek at the downstream end of the Kingfisher Natural Area, now dubbed the Knickerbocker site (where the 20th Ave NE footpath crosses Thornton Creek just south of NE 100th Street). This project also will create a 1.5 acre vegetated flood plain and replace the pedestrian bridge across the creek.

SPU and Parks will review the project designs and timeline at this meeting, and invite you to express your concerns, ask questions and make suggestions. Visit their official website for more details.

Sacajawea Elementary School is located at 9501 20th Avenue NE, the meeting will be held in the school’s lunchroom between 6:30 PM and 8 PM.

Help Prevent Street Flooding

With the return of rains at the exact same time the leaves are falling, we need to keep storm drains clear to prevent flooding in the streets (the bottom of NE 100th St is particularly vulnerable).

If you see leaves beginning to block a drain, take a minute to clear them away.

Seattle Public Utilities even is sponsoring an “Adopt-A-Drain” program and will even give out free gloves, bags, brooms, rakes, and safety vests, as well as help with leaf disposal.

After you sign up online or by calling 206-233-7187, you can pick up supplies at SPU’s warehouse on East Marginal Way this Saturday the 20th or Saturday the 27th.

SPU Announces Knickerbocker Project Q&A

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) announced in a letter sent to residents that they will be holding an informal Question & Answer session on the Knickerbocker Floodplain Project on Tuesday, July 17th from 6:30 – 7:30 PM at the project site located at NE 100th Street and 20th Ave NE.

Share your thoughts and concerns, see the current design, and learn about the multiple benefits of restoring this portion of Thornton Creek.

Last week as we reported, the money for this project is to come from Sound Transit’s mitigation for the Link Light Rail station work being done at Northgate.

Sound Transit: Northgate Wetlands Mitigation Would Be Spent on Knickerbocker Project

Thursday night’s meeting of the Thornton Creek Alliance featured employees of Sound Transit who spoke at length about the impact of Link light rail construction on Thornton Creek. As part of the mitigation for impacting the wetlands at Northgate, Sound Transit has proposed paying for Seattle Public Utilities Knickerbocker Project in Victory Heights. SPU has no funds to finance the project itself which began with test drilling last week. While it might seem unfair and unconnected to the Northgate project, the amount of space to increase wetlands at Northgate (which often dry up during the summer) is limited due to the existing interstate and surface streets. Whereas the Knickerbocker Project, described as “shovel ready,” would be a substantial improvement to the quality of Thornton Creek. The Sound Transit money is not enough to finance the entire cost of the project which could still be delayed or canceled, but it is hoped it will attract grants to make up the rest.

During the six year construction of the Northgate Link Light Rail next to 1st Ave NE, Thornton Creek will be diverted into a culvert to protect it from dirt and other runoff. This was agreed by all the parties as the best solution, after which the creek would be daylighted again except for a 20 foot section to allow truck access across. A proposed pedestrian bridge over I-5 would cost an estimated $20 million. Sound Transit is committing $5 million to study it, with the city matching it with another $5 million. The rest would have to come from other sources if it were to be built.

Other TCA business included a unanimous vote to add Heather Ferguson to the board, revise membership levels, and a report from the treasurer of sufficient funds to finance activity through March 2013.

Brad Johnson reported that barring a last minute appeal, SPU would begin its controversial work on Meadowbrook Pond on July 9th.  Fifty to sixty trees are to be removed as part of much needed dredging in the pond (some places are only six inches deep).  Three hundred and eighty dump truck loads of sentiment (and invasive mudsnails) are to hauled to a site in Monroe for processing as safe soil.

After the meeting, a brief tour was made of the Meadowbrook Pond and confluence area around the community center.


Thornton Creek Alliance Meeting June 28th

The Thornton Creek Alliance is having their next meeting on Thursday, June 28th from 7 PM to 9 PM at the Meadowbrook Community Center, 10517 35th Ave NE.

PROGRAM: Please join us for a panel discussion of the changes and challenges to Thornton Creek as the North Corridor Transit Project becomes further developed.  Come to learn and come to share your questions and concerns about Thornton Creek and the Watershed.


  • Sound Transit
  • Seattle Public Utilities
  • State Department of Fish & Wildlife
  • State Department of Ecology


MEETING: Following the Educational Program there will be a brief update from committees and a presentation of our annual work plan

Knickerbocker Floodplain Construction Friday

Residents around the Knickerbocker site of Thornton Creek (the intersection of 20th Ave NE and NE 100th Street) received a notice late today from Seattle Public Utilities,

There will a construction crew working at the Knickerbocker site tomorrow, June 22, 2012, from approximately 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They will be drilling seven (7) groundwater wells 6-8 feet deep using an excavator with a small drill rig. It will generate some construction noise. The wells will be capped when they’re done.


There will be another crew there next week to hand-dig three (3) additional shallow wells, approximately 2-3 feet deep, for devices that will show the elevation of the stream. All work will be done next to the stream and not in the water itself

More information is available at the SPU site.