The city Board of Park Commissioners – the Parks Board, for short, whose chair Jackie Ramels and vice chair Neal Adams are both from West Seattle – took a field trip Thursday night to meet at the West Seattle Golf Course clubhouse instead of their usual digs at Parks HQ on the north end of downtown. The meeting was preceded by even more of a jaunt – they visited two of the locations to be discussed in the night’s business, Seacrest Pier and the Golf Course itself. Seacrest is before the board because Parks has to sign off on the King County Ferry District plan to fix up the Seacrest dock to facilitate year-round Elliott Bay Water Taxi operation starting next year (this year’s season starts April 5); the proposal is detailed here, and in our coverage of an informational meeting in Alki. Board member John Barber said he had some questions about the use of parks land for nonpark use, given a past ballot measure guaranteeing park uses for park land; city staff will review this, but noted that this extended use of Seacrest is only expected to last three to five years, while the county continues working to find a permanent home for the Water Taxi. Former port commissioner and nearby-park namesake Jack Block spoke in support of the Seacrest dock improvements, even though he cautioned that the long-term solution must be found elsewhere (a proposal for a terminal adjacent to Jack Block Park has long been floated); the board vote on this happens in two weeks. Next, the Golf Master Plan; tonight’s review focused on the money aspect. Two competing proposals are under consideration — one costs $30 million and would pay for all recommended upgrades at all city golf courses. The other costs $20 million and prioritizes key work. Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher told the board that staffers are learning toward #2 given the rough economic times — when things get better, the department could go on to complete the remaining $10 million work. Raising the money is the challenge; Gallagher said the city can finance $20 million in improvements without raising green fees, but not $30 million. Following tonight’s discussion, a public hearing on the Golf Master Plan is set for the April 9 Parks Board meeting, and a board vote on April 23.
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