East Ballard GreenStreet planned for construction in September


Good things take time.
Cari Simson’s team has been persistently working to complete the East Ballard GreenStreet project since 2013, when The Russell Family Foundation made a generous grant of $65,000 to Antioch University Seattle to launch the project. The goals are to site, design, permit, and build one block of voluntary roadside rain gardens along 11th Avenue NW at 58th Street in the East Ballard neighborhood as a pilot demonstration for voluntary green stormwater infrastructure (GSI).

The East Ballard GreenStreet project seeks to:

  • develop a low-cost, replicable method for community groups, blocks of neighbors, or businesses to prevent pollutants from urban areas from discharging into nearby water bodies like Salmon Bay;
  • leverage community, government and NGO collaboration to create voluntary green stormwater infrastructure projects that capture, slow and filter polluted runoff via roadside swales planted with native vegetation;
  • develop best practices for implementing green stormwater infrastructure at the neighborhood scale, including guidance on design, construction and maintenance.


In September/October 2015 we intend to complete the project!
The original plan was to complete the Roadside Rain Gardens project by the end of 2014. However, there were significant delays in the permitting process, plus the project required a Street Use Street Improvement Permit (SIP); the project added complexity because this is a unique design project that the City previously has not done in partnership with community organizations. From 2013 through 2015, Cari’s team has been working with the City to clarify the steps needed for communities to voluntarily build rain gardens in the City’s right-of-way. City officials agree that there is a need for a cost-effective, collaborative, and streamlined permitting process and outreach protocol.

You are invited!
The project’s progress will be visible and educational at all phases and you are invited to participate. A local licensed/bonded excavation company will be hired to construct the roadside rain garden cluster along 11th Avenue NW (September 2015). The tasks will include removing the eight ornamental pears, sod and some soil, and then placing rain garden soil to create the swales; Ballard neighbors and Plant Amnesty will be contacted to find a new home for the trees. 9 new trees will be planted in the swales, and we are seeking locations for an additional 9 street trees that will be planted in the neighborhood per the city’s 2-to-1 Urban Tree Canopy code. If you want to sign up for a street tree in front of your house, please contact Cari via the contact info below!

Volunteers of all ages and abilities are invited to plant the rain gardens and add mulch to stabilize the soil (October 2015). Cari’s team will also provide education as part of the volunteer work day about rain gardens, soil health, natural yard care, and NW native plant palettes.

There will also be a family-friendly “Discover your Neighborhood Watershed” walking tour of the 11th Ave NW urban watershed in the blocks surrounding the project site, including how stormwater affects the health of Puget Sound, and how citizens’ direct actions can improve the health of our waterbodies, and showcase examples of green infrastructure, including cisterns, rain gardens, and natural yard care. So far, project partners include the East Ballard Community Association, Ballard High School, Surfrider Foundation, Stewardship Partners, and Sustainable Ballard. The Muckleshoot Tribe’s Preservation Department has also been contacted about the historic significance of the creek that used to run into Salmon Bay where 11th Avenue NW is now located. We will also seek out partners to help during the final stages of the project to design and install interpretive signs that illustrate and describe how the project works, the native plants in the ground, and how residents can get involved to keep water clean in Salmon Bay.

Participate and stay in touch!
Cari Simson, Project Manager 206-234-5102 / cari@urbansystemsdesign.com 

This project is funded through a grant from The Russell Family Foundation with support from Antioch University Seattle, The Washington Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and East Ballard Community Association

Other GSI around you:
The City of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has been working on the Ballard Natural Drainage System (NDS) to site, design, and construct a much larger scale project in Ballard’s Loyal Heights neighborhood, which aims to help prevent an average of 1 million gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater per year from entering the Ship Canal and Salmon Bay. More info on the SPU project can be found here: http://www.seattle.gov/util/environmentconservation/projects/ballardnaturaldrainage/

King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD)’s RainWise rebates have also been available in the E. Ballard neighborhood, but are due to sunset later this year.

Check out the City of Seattle/King County GSI web page for more information on more GSI around you! http://www.700milliongallons.org/


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