Friday, May 20, 2011

Around the Sound: Anacortes welcomes a new gem

By Seth Preston, Communications Manager, Toxics Cleanup Program

See more site photos on Flickr On a picture-perfect sunny day, Anacortes-area residents flocked to the shore of Fidalgo Bay today to officially welcome the community's newest addition.

The Port of Anacortes hosted a celebration for the formal reopening of Seafarers' Memorial Park on the land that once housed Scott Paper mills. While the park has existed for a while, its new, expanded form is now fully open.

Click here for a slideshow with photos of how the Scott Paper site once looked, and how it is now. John Herzog of GeoEngineers, who helped shape the cleanup and the current park, provided the photos.

The event represents a number of milestones. For one, the park now offers unprecedented public access to the shore of Fidalgo Bay. For another, the cleanup work removed significant contamination from the local environment and clears the way for habitat and the environment to heal. On top of that, the project brought in dozens of construction jobs during its 2-plus years, which spread money throughout the Anacortes community during rough economic times.

And from Ecology's standpoint, it's a shining example of the kind of work we're doing to clean up polluted industrial sites under the Governor's Puget Sound Initiative.

Successful Partnership

The former Scott Paper site is the largest — physically and financially — yet undertaken through the initiative. And because of the great partnership that Ecology forged with the Port of Anacortes and Kimberly-Clark (the company which bought Scott Paper and took on the cleanup responsibility), this project went about as smoothly and quickly as any such large effort could.

Tim Nord, who headed Ecology's cleanup team, noted that it takes an average of 16 years to clean up a federal Superfund sight in the Puget Sound area. The state needs an average of 12 years for a Puget Sound cleanup.

In this case, the former Scott Paper site cleanup took 5 years and seven days from first meeting of the project's participating parties to today's celebration.

It took a lot of work to make it happen. Port project manager Becky Darden praised the many companies that performed the cleanup and the park work.

Julien Loh, the Northwest representative for Gov. Chris Gregoire, noted the litany of contractors Darden listed. That shows "environmental cleanup does mean jobs," Loh said.

Community Benefits

And it means much more for Anacortes. Ecology's Nord pointed out that the Fidalgo Bay habitat will include to improve as each year goes, as the environment heals and restoration work (like the planting of eelgrass in the bay) takes hold.

Port Commission President Keith Rubin said local residents can enjoy the park for generations to come. People can picnic, listen to summer concerts, perhaps meet and fall in love. They can even marry at the park's building and in time bring their own children to play at the park.

The crowd inside the Seafarers' Memorial Park building laughed in appreciation.

Outside, people played with Frisbees on the grass, strolled on the new walkway, sailed radio-controlled boats off the new dock, and walked a beach free of wood waste and contamination.

No comments: