By Scott Schaefer

A group of Des Moines residents calling itself ‘Marina Watch’ has created a petition – which currently has over 1,000 signatures – to encourage the Des Moines City Council to permanently designate the North Marina Parking as a Park, which would protect it from development of large commercial structures, like a proposed hotel.

At a recent Des Moines City Council meeting, resident Chris Tollefson presented Council with the petition, which designates an area where last September the Council introduced plans to develop a 90-room, 3+-story upscale hotel. As a result of that announcement, there were numerous public comments regarding the loss of public open space for the benefit of residents and visitors.

Organizers have so far gathered signatures for the petition over a 60+ day period, and collected around 800 from Des Moines residents, representing interest from most all neighborhoods. Others came from residents of surrounding cities who make the trip to the Marina for their enjoyment. 

According to the group, this piece of property “provides essential Open Space for many public activities” including: The Waterland Festival, with events like the 4th of July fireworks (this year a laser light show), Car Show; essential overflow parking support when special events are held in the Beach Park; parking and staging areas for the popular Farmers Market, including food trucks; Public Parking and access to the public fishing pier and much more, including a place for everyone to pause and enjoy the sunsets, the Olympic Mountains and the Salish Sea as well as a favorite backdrop for many graduation, prom and wedding photos.

According to organizers, this area – located in the middle of the parks (Beach Park, Fishing Pier Park, Outlook Parks, and the new Sound View Park – has been identified as a ‘Public Benefit Area’ by the City.

“We are determined to reserve this property for the use and enjoyment of all Des Moines residents and for everyone who enjoys the Marina, the Beach and all the activities in and around the Marina’s North Parking area,” organizer Chris Tollefson said. “This unique property belongs to all of us who live in Des Moines and we should not allow it to be spoiled by commercial real estate.”

Organizers add that their petition for a Public Park designation was “greeted favorably by almost everyone we approached.” In addition, a substantial majority of written comments have been sent to the City Council and posted with the Council’s meeting packets indicated strong opposition to the Council’s announced intent to locate a 90-room, 3+-story upscale hotel in the North Marina parking area. Many of those comments not only opposed a hotel, but also expressed enthusiastic support for maintaining this property as a Public Open Space.

UPDATE: City Responds

We reached out to City Manager Michael Matthias and Mayor Matt Mahoney for comment, and this was their response via Bonnie Wilkins, Chief Administrative Officer:

“As a part of the funding for the initial Marina construction, the City received grant funds from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) as well as the US Department of Interior. As a condition of that funding, the use of a large portion of the North Parking lot was reserved for a fishing pier, restroom and parking. All of these are to provide public access to the waterfront. These covenants remain on the property and restrict private development of the site.”


Click arrows to view slideshow of images provided by Marina Watch:

Petition Info

If you would like to sign the Petition, find it here and print a copy. After you have gathered signatures on the Petition(s), please return a copy of it by email to [email protected].