Walk in the Shoes: Vashon Island, Spring Beach Community

It’s hard to beat the beauty of Vashon Island on a sunny day. That’s where I headed last month to spend the day with Health and Environmental Investigator Liana Criscuolo, a recent Walk in the Shoes of a County Employee participant. I spent several hours with Liana learning her day-to-day routine and meeting a number of Vashon residents.

I had three goals with this walk: to spend time with county employees, to see the different projects they’re working on, and to meet and talk with community members who are affected by – or who will benefit from – those projects.

Liana and her co-workers gave me an update on Vashon’s onsite sewage system known as the Spring Beach Project. It presented many unexpected challenges due to its complexity and critical areas, including steep slopes and lots of surface water. Those elements help create Vashon’s unforgettable views, fertile farmland, and wildlife habitat, but also make it difficult for the community to find an area that will work for all of the treatment system requirements.

Liana explained the long process and how difficult it’s been to make progress. But she also shared how much the project benefited from the participation and cooperation of Spring Beach Community residents, onsite sewage system professionals, and multiple King County departments and agencies (e.g. Department of Permitting and Environmental Review, Real Estate Services, and Roads), who helped review, process, and guide the various required permits and approvals needed to bring this project online.

Thanks to the persistence and collaboration of Liana and the many stakeholders on Vashon Island, after years of inadequate sewage disposal, the residents in a dozen homes on Spring Beach are on their way to having an approved and operational community onsite sewage system and individual onsite systems, which are all major wins for the residents and for the fragile environmental areas on the island.

As King County Executive, I appreciated the opportunity to see how Liana engaged and communicated with Islanders residents on behalf of the county during this process. It was yet another example of how departments and agencies throughout King County work together to identify and deliver solutions to county residents.

If you are doing a job that you think I should experience as part of a Walk in the Shoes of a County Employee visit, please submit an invitation. I look forward to new opportunities to see more of our diverse lines of business and meet the people who make them possible.

Dow Constantine
King County Executive