Friends of Discovery Park presented a new, preferred trail design during a public meeting on Wednesday, April 10, at the Discovery Park Educational Center, which volunteers believe will bring more accessibility and views to the trail.

“At the first meeting we had two potential designs,” said Ken Bryan, who is taking charge of the project as a volunteer for Friends of Discovery Park. “We had a meeting with the city, and then a meeting with the public back in March. We got lots of input on the two designs, and then we decided to merge them together to create a preferred design. There was then a second meeting with the city, then we had another public meeting where we got a bunch more good input.”

Residents interested in the project gave a lot of comments about the trail, which leads to the bluff over South Beach, providing expansive views of the Puget Sound.

Bryan said most residents wanted to see natural elements incorporated into the trail design, make sure no large trees would be cut down for the trail, and for the trail to provide more accessible routes to the beach and views for those who have trouble with the stairs currently used on the trail.

Friends of Discovery Park chose to revamp the South Beach Trail since it is showing signs of wear and tear. Many of the wood features near the trail are pushing 30 years old and are beginning to wear out, and parts of the trail are eroding and making the trail unusable for those with limited abilities.

Friends of Discovery Park was granted $80,000 from Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods to scope out the project. Bryan said the organization is using the grant money to work with landscape designer Tom Walker with J.A. Brennan Associates on trail design, cost estimates and other project elements.

Friends of Discovery Park members scoped out and surveyed the trail over the last few months, and from those results worked with Walker to create potential new trail options. The group also worked with a geotechnical assessment company to find out what parts of the trail are more susceptible to landslides, floods and earthquake damage. The current trail has four viewpoints between its two ends and provides beach access to hikers and runners.

The preferred trail design will include a new segment of trail that leads from Discovery Park Boulevard to a newly proposed viewpoint. Segments of the existing trail will be revamped and new segments will be created southwest of the current trail. The plan includes six viewpoints; three new areas and three revised spots.

“The things we like about the new design is it will be more accessible for people, there are a lot of stairs on the trail today and we are going to remove at least 80 percent if not 90 percent of those stairs,” Bryan said. “We are going to change the grade, so the trail will be a little longer but less steep. So it’ll be more accessible and, for the city, easier to maintain.”

Bryan the city decided to go ahead without a third meeting, impressed with the plan Bryan and Walker presented at the second.

“The next step is for the landscape architects to go over the final details,” Bryan said. “The layout is what it is and they need to change it to a real design with details, so it can be built. That’ll take another month or six weeks. By the end of May the design ought to be finalized, and then the next step will be to raise money to do the shovel work and build the new trail.”

Friends of Discovery Park does not know the estimated price for the trail, but Bryan said it will be a six-figure number. The volunteer group will then look for donations from private residents, grants and funding from the city and state, plus fundraising efforts by park volunteers.