Three options for marsh

Restoration studies are under way.

Consultants have identified three options for re-establishing a salt marsh above Manitou Beach Drive.

For some neighbors, the project is a welcome step toward restoring threatened salmon populations; for others, the potential for flooding and lower property values – and the smell – remain key issues.

“Can we do a restoration project without creating a stinky mud flat? That’s a concern,” conceded Mark Ewbank, representing Herrera Environmental Consultants, at a public presentation at City Hall Thursday.

Nearly 50 people, most residents of the Manitou Beach and Murden Cove neighborhoods, attended the meeting, at which Ewbank and others outlined options for linking city-owned land to the shoreline to create an estuarine environment accessible to the public.

A two-foot culvert running under Manitou Beach Drive now connects the property to Murden Cove, allowing limited water flow on and off the site.

In the lowest-impact alternative, the 1.3-acre parcel would be excavated to create a system of small waterways. The channels would improve habitat for salmonids and increase the parcel’s ability to absorb tidal fluctuations, potentially reducing flooding in the area, consultants said.

Plans B and C would add a new culvert and place large woody debris, possibly by felling trees on the property, to improve habitat for fish. The third option also calls for the creation of a lagoon at the back of the property.

In all three scenarios, the city would install educational signs, a picnic table and parking.

The city purchased the property last March for $350,000 upon the conditional recommendation of the Open Space Commission, which acknowledged that restoring the marsh – to be funded by grants – would be problematic.

Reaction to the consultants’ proposals was mixed, with area property owners raising concerns about flooding and changes in land-use regulations.

While all three proposals limit changes to the city parcel, new water flow from expansion or addition to the existing culvert would affect adjacent properties. Owners of a property with a cattail marsh south of the city’s land expressed concern over the effects on a stream that flows through their property.

Residents also expressed concerns over the proposal to create four parking spaces at the site; the group favored non-motorized access from Manitou Beach Drive, which is already a popular cycling route.

“One space, handicap only,” one neighbor proposed.

The restoration is backed by members of the Manitou Beach Upstream Team and other area residents, who have pledged private money and services to help fund the project, which has the support of the city’s Watershed Council.

Written comments on the consultants’ proposal are being accepted by project manager Stephanie Moret through March 19.

A recommendation from the consultants on the preferred restoration alternative is expected in April. Information: 842-2016 or

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