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Originally published Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Editorial: Respect Seattle’s smart seawall investment

Voter approval of the Seattle seawall replacement takes the long view of a healthy downtown. Respect the support the community provided.

Seattle Times Editorial

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Seattle residents voted overwhelmingly to invest in the city’s future. The $290 million bond measure to rebuild the Elliott Bay seawall is worthy of a heartfelt “thank you.”

Instead the response from waterfront businesses has been a myopic grumpiness about the seasonal scheduling of a project estimated to take more than seven years.

The current plan calls for work to stop from Memorial Day through Labor Day so as not to interfere with the summer tourist season.

Local businesses want the work stoppage to continue through September. Their frustration is understandable, but as the primary beneficiaries of a major civic expenditure, one might expect a bit more flexible attitude.

The 77-percent “yes” for Proposition 1 was no doubt helped by the specter of Hurricane Sandy. Improbable weather events do happen, and their devastating consequences dwarf the inconvenience and expense of prevention.

A Seattle homeowner in the median-priced $360,000 residence will pay about $68 a year more in property taxes to keep downtown real estate from — indeed — going underwater.

City planners and engineers are layering the timing of a replacement of a wooden seawall that was never designed to handle a big earthquake or tidal event. Seawall construction has to work around removal of the Highway 99 viaduct, which was damaged, oh, by the way, in a 2001 earthquake.

City officials and local businesses must work together to find the scheduling gaps that might allow for the summer closures to be extended, as possible.

But those same officials have a duty to those generous taxpayers to manage the expenses and overhead on a costly, complex project. Another way to say “thank you.”

Seattle took action to keep the downtown healthy, vibrant and functioning into the future. That needs to be respected as well.


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