It had long been a dream among many of Marysville citizens to build a boat launch and park somewhere along Marysville’s waterfront on Ebey Slough. Minutes from Maryville City Council meetings as far back as the 1940s contain discussions about such a park. But the shoreline along the slough was already developed for industrial use, space was limited, and for decades, the idea was more talk than action. Some progress was made in the 1950s when the Marysville Sportsmen’s Club built a boat ramp just west of the railroad tracks, near what would later be the Interstate 5 bridge. But this ramp was not really a park, and worse, boaters loading and unloading at the ramp had to dance a dangerous tango with log loaders working at the adjacent Welco lumber mill. A better solution was needed.
In May 1997 the City of Marysville purchased a 5.4-acre site on the slough, southwest of 1st Street and State Avenue, from Welco Lumber Company, for $880,569. The site had been used as a lumber mill for decades, and by the late 1990s the property was run down, with abandoned trailers, boats, and other debris lining the shore. Late in February 2000 the Marysville City Council approved plans for a waterfront park at the site, and said they hoped to have development under way by the end of 2001.
Four years later, in April 2004, bids were opened for the project. Premium Construction Group was awarded the job with a contract price of $2,846,397. The first shovelful of earth was ceremoniously turned on June 30, 2004, with the project scheduled for completion in early 2005.
Premium Construction encountered a few surprises as construction proceeded. The area had been used extensively for industrial purposes for nearly a century, and “like archaeologists digging down through layer after layer of the past, contractors Premium Construction ran into multiple layers of paving” (Marysville Globe, August 10, 2005, p.A3), plus submarine netting and several levels of concrete slabs. Then the soil turned out to be contaminated from the years of industrial use, and an extra $300,000 was required to cover the resulting special disposal costs. Contractors also could not work in the water when fish were migrating down the slough. All of these things added time to the project, which ultimately was completed in the summer of 2005.
Opening day was Saturday, August 13, 2005. Ceremonies kicked off at noon when a Tulalip canoe pulled up to the new dock, greeted by dancers from the Tulalip Tribe. Minutes later Fred Messmer, who had been actively involved in the park and launch’s development, motored away from the dock in the park’s first official boat launch. The next day, at dawn, the ramp opened to the public.
Ebey Waterfront Park is dedicated in memory of Brad Baunsgard (1977-1994), a Marysville teenager who died in an August 1994 boating accident on Ebey Slough. The park has 46 boat-trailer parking stalls and 32 general purpose stalls, a dock for mooring, and a four-lane boat ramp. The ramp also has a wash down station for people to rinse off their boats. The park includes a picnic pavilion, a nautical-themed playground, and a restroom facility built in the style of a tribal longhouse. Public fishing spots and walking trails also complement the park.