Friday, April 16, 2021

Linda Lou Takes Us To Mount Vernon's Skagit Riverwalk

Even with the title above mentioning the Skagit Riverwalk, longtime lookers at this blog may be thinking the photo they see here is a photo of one of America's Biggest Boondoggle's Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube Floats at Fort Worth's imaginary pavilion on the town's imaginary island in the town's polluted river.

However, there is a clue or two that that is not the Trinity River you see here, as there is nothing unnatural floating in it, and the color is a pleasant shade of green, not brackish brown.

Yesterday the Skagit Valley's favorite Linda Lou called and during the call I asked if Linda Lou had any good photos of Mount Vernon's Skagit Riverwalk.

And then, this morning, from Linda Lou's phone, photos of Mount Vernon's Skagit Riverwalk showed up.

Around the turn of the century Fort Worth began an imaginary flood control economic development scheme, at the time called Trinity Uptown. Eventually that name turned into Trinity River Vision. Eventually becoming the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision. More commonly known as America's Biggest Boondoggle, after two decades of limping along with little to show for the effort but one completed little bridge built over dry land, which took 7 years to build.

Fort Worth did not fund this pseudo public works project in the normal way of having the public vote to approve funding the not vitally needed flood control project. Not needed due to the fact the area in question has not flooded for well over half a century. To secure funding a local congresswoman's son was made Executive Director of the project, to motivate his mother to secure federal funding.

So far mother's efforts to get the more prosperous parts of America to pay for Fort Worth's ineptly implemented imaginary flood control project has not born federal fruit.

Meanwhile, about 10 years after Fort Worth's imaginary flood control scheme got underway, the little town from which I moved near the end of the last century, Mount Vernon, began to implement an actual vitally needed flood control project. A flood control project with the actual side benefit of being an economic development scheme, creating a waterfront riverwalk and making downtown Mount Vernon economically more viable due to greatly reduced flood insurance premiums. 

We shall continue with the rest of the story whilst looking at Linda Lou's photos of Mount Vernon's Skagit Riverwalk.

I am guessing Miss Mary was the photographer for the above photo, with that being Linda Lou walking away from us. We are looking north here, at the south end of the Riverwalk. That bridge you see is crossing the Skagit River, connecting downtown Mount Vernon to West Mount Vernon. That bridge was built many years ago, over actual moving water, and built in less than four years.

No local congresswoman's son was involved in determining what type piers the bridge was built on.

I forgot to mention, that photo at the top, which some might have mistaken for Rockin' the River, is instead an event taking place on the Skagit Riverwalk Plaza. I assume this is Tulip Festival related. As you can see tulips play a big role on the Skagit Riverwalk. In the above photo you can see the Tulip Tower in the distance. We will get a better look at the Tulip Tower below.

Above we see the Skagit Riverwalk as it passes under the Skagit River Bridge. We are looking south here. The Skagit is a much bigger river than the Trinity River. The river is a bit wide as it passes through Mount Vernon, only a few miles from reaching the mouth of the river in Skagit Bay.

I forgot to mention the reason the Skagit Riverwalk is an actual real flood control project is because the Skagit has been a regular menace to downtown Mount Vernon ever since the town began. Downtown Mount Vernon is sort of like New Orleans, as in the downtown goes below river level when the Skagit goes into flood mode.

12 funding sources were used to pay for the Skagit Riverwalk project, the final phase of which was completed in 2018. Prior to this upgraded flood protection, when the Skagit flooded it took between 1,500 and 2,000 volunteers to fill and stack 150,00 sandbags to hold back the river.

In the early 1990s, during the worst flood I remember seeing, I was among the volunteers. I went to downtown Mount Vernon after midnight, after seeing on the news how bad the expected crest was going to be, and seeing so many people helping, including Navy volunteers from the Whidbey Air Force Base. The sandbag stacking was complete by about the time the sun arrived. 

A few hours later, around 11 in the morning, a huge crowd had gathered, at a safe elevation, to see if the river would top the sandbag wall. Just as the river began to flood over the wall something happened. No one new what it was, but suddenly the river level dropped. Downtown Mount Vernon was spared, because further downriver a dike had failed, flooding Fir Island, taking pressure off the flooding river.

Two weeks later it happened again.

Hence the effort began to find a solution to a real flood control problem, a solution which was many years in the making and eventually resulted in a Dutch designed flood control system which takes a crew of about 20 around 12 hours to stack aluminum logs to make a flood control wall.

This resulted in FEMA granting Mount Vernon's request to be removed from the 100 year floodplain, resulting in this quote from Mount Vernon's mayor at the time, “The flood protection project brings a 40 percent reduction in flood insurance premiums, and removes 223 buildings from the regulatory floodplain, increasing community safety and improving economic vitality of the downtown business district,” Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau told the crowd.

Another group of tulips on the Skagit Riverwalk Plaza. Linda Lou gives us no clue at to the why of the guys standing in front of the tulips. But it sure let's us see how big they are.

But, not nearly as tall as the Tulip Tower.

Due to the completion of Mount Vernon's Skagit Riverwalk flood control project, the hoped for economic development has followed. Such as a 1906 era building being remodeled with the ground floors providing commercial space with the upstairs being living space. The owner is putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into the project and says this would not be happening without the new floodwall protection.

Meanwhile in Fort Worth, Texas...

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