LAKE STEVENS — Two cement footings on either side of Stevens Creek are missing a critical piece — a bridge to connect them.
The city stopped work on the project at the north end of North Cove Park in March, when the state rejected a required permit to complete the work.
But the work had already taken place, without a permit.
“Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife does not issue (hydraulic project approvals) after hydraulic projects are completed,” according to a March 23 memo to the city from Kevin Lee, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist.
The city proposed in February to remove a “dilapidated” car bridge along North Lakeshore Drive, replacing it with a pedestrian bridge and adding a second pedestrian bridge near the intersection of North Lakeshore Drive and 123rd Avenue Northeast, according to a Planned Action Determination.
Before receiving a permit, the city’s department of Public Works removed the old wooden bridge and began filling concrete forms to support the new bridge, according to an April 20 correction request from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Hydraulic project approvals are necessary for any hydraulic projects in or near state waters.
“I expressed to the city that they really didn’t do the proper permitting procedure on that one,” said Doug Gresham, a wetland specialist at the Department of Ecology.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife conducted a site visit on Feb. 25 and left Shannon Farrant, the water management coordinator for the city, a voicemail asking to discuss the unpermitted removal of the bridge.
“She stated that the work was done without her knowledge and she requested to be the main point of contact for the City regarding this violation,” the correction request states.
Gresham said Farrant was relatively new to the city and “she’s really trying to do a better job of coordinating all that (permitting) so that they don’t wind up sideways with the (state) agencies.”
The day after Fish and Wildlife’s site visit, a Public Works employee, on condition of anonymity, told Labor and Industries investigators that Public Works Director Eric Durpos wrote up an employee for “reporting to fish + game and L&I about violations.”
Durpos was previously reprimanded for creating what employees described as an “unhealthy” work environment.
Months after the permit was rejected, the city might still be able to move forward with the project — or maybe not. In the correction request, Fish and Wildlife asked the city to remove the concrete footholds, re-contour the disturbed bank along Lakeshore Drive and replant the disturbed bank.
However, in the city’s Aug. 10 application, a memo prepared by Erik Davido of Davido Consulting Group states “removing the bridge footings and re-constructing the exact same footings to meet the goals of the proposed pedestrian bridge … would cause more impact to the stream.”
According to the application, the plans for the second bridge will be submitted under a second hydraulic project approval permit.
The unpermitted work not only delayed the project but triggered a meeting in late May between the city of Lake Stevens, the state Department of Ecology and the Fish and Wildlife department.
Prior to the meeting, a representative from the Department of Ecology asked state agencies to spend the first half of the meeting discussing “what concerns we have with their history of unpermitted actions by the Public Works Dept,” according to an email.
“It’s just — it’s a pattern. We don’t hear about things,” Gresham told The Daily Herald. “We’d like to see some communication to us. So I think we’ve got their attention now. We’re hoping that these kinds of things won’t be repeated.”
Farrant referred the The Herald to Durpos for comment. Durpos did not respond to request for comment.
City Administrator Gene Brazel said he was not very involved with the project, but he participated in the inter-agency meeting. The meeting led the city to develop a spreadsheet of all ongoing projects and required permits.
“This system will help make sure things aren’t missed,” Brazel said.
The city will also continue to work to improve communication with state agencies, Brazel said.
“We just would prefer that it’s back and forth” communication, Gresham said. “And to not just be blindsided when we get a citizen complaint that they’re doing work without a permit.”
Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; email@example.com. Twitter: @BredaIsabella.