Park expansion for Morgan Junction? City Council briefing Thursday

September 17, 2012 at 4:32 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 21 Comments

(Thursday photo courtesy Benjamin Blain)
The proposed Seattle Parks purchase of the commercial site north of Morgan Junction Park (reported here last week) is on this Thursday’s City Council Parks and Neighborhoods Committee agenda. Last Thursday night, the Morgan Community Association invited community members to come see and discuss the site (above) with Parks reps; this Thursday, Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams will brief committee members on where the deal stands. The agenda includes a proposed ordinance that would authorize the city to acquire the site via condemnation – “eminent domain” – which seemed a little drastic, so we checked today with Parks’ Chip Nevins to get an explanation. He says the ordinance “was written several months ago when negotiations were not going as well as they are now. We always expect that we can negotiate a successful acquisition, but condemnation authority shows the landowner that we are serious, provides us with some more negotiating tools and also provides some tax advantages to the seller.” He says that while there have been past cases of the council authorizing this process for Parks’ use, they’ve never had to deploy it. The Morgan Junction site (6311 California SW) is still on the open market for $2 million, as it was when we first mentioned it back in June.

21 Comments

  1. Love to see so many folks getting involved in their community!

    Another West Seattle is the best place to live in this city.

    Comment by Harry Reems — 7:16 pm September 17, 2012 #

  2. I really am all for progress. But can’t we have just one year of reprieve from all the construction in this particular stretch of West Seattle? From the streets to the new buildings on Graham to rapid ride to now a new park expansion and possible demolition of the Short Stop and the city starting their construction at 7:00 and going until sometime 8:00 or 9:00 at night. It gets to be a little much.

    Comment by HT — 8:11 pm September 17, 2012 #

  3. What? No uproar over the city FORCING a private citizen to sell the property to them? An agrument could be made for the sewer project, but for a park?……

    Comment by me — 8:46 pm September 17, 2012 #

  4. I’d love to see the park expand. But please get a different park designer. The current place is totally nondescript. Not exactly a welcoming spot.

    Comment by Sonoma — 9:00 pm September 17, 2012 #

  5. What? No uproar over the city FORCING a private citizen to sell the property to them? An agrument could be made for the sewer project, but for a park?……

    I agree. My family refers to the Morgan Junction Park as the Monorail, lest we forget.

    Comment by Catherine — 10:23 pm September 17, 2012 #

  6. How in the world does the Parks Dept have money to purchase another piece of property for a park when Parks can’t maintain what they have? Parks are lovely and needed but must be maintained without going to voters and asking for more tax money to maintain them.
    Eminent Domain should not be used for the government to acquire property. What an abuse of power. Don’t readers understand this is a taking of private property. Something this country’s Founding Fathers wanted to prevent.

    Comment by LongTimer WS — 10:28 pm September 17, 2012 #

  7. Do it! The city awardeth major up-zoning for the developers, the city taketh away for the people.

    Comment by Herman — 11:37 pm September 17, 2012 #

  8. Go Go NIMBYS!

    Comment by DirtyCoyote — 2:48 am September 18, 2012 #

  9. Oh good, I was afraid we didn’t have enough space for drunk bums to hang out in the Morgan Junction.

    Comment by G — 6:46 am September 18, 2012 #

  10. I wish i understood the back story here (there has to be one). who’s idea was it to use this property for a park? was the owner looking to sell? if not, this stinks…. and i like parks!! there are two successful businesses using that land, and just 50 yards away is an eyesore. If anyone is going to be forced to sell, make it the blight on the Morgan junction formerly known as Chuck & Sally’s. Regarding the design of the current park there… many meetings were held with the community to come up with what you see. It is more or less what was talked about at those meetings. IF you want something different, attend the design meetings for the new park. But before we get another park built, the existing park needs to have the alcohol-in-parks-ban enforced.

    Comment by B-squared — 7:54 am September 18, 2012 #

  11. A longer backstory involves the fact that the city has a mission to find and acquire more parkland in “urban villages” that don’t have enough. If you get a few minutes to graze the actual ordinance, which is linked in the story, it has a paragraph to that effect. It’s a code that governs park acquisitions with part of the Parks and Green Spaces Levy from 2008, for example, and it applies to the whole city, with a list of target areas including Morgan Junction – as noted here: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/levy/acquisition.htm

    Comment by WSB — 8:00 am September 18, 2012 #

  12. Come on people lets think about this. Do we really need to have a larger park or even a park at all with Lincoln park so close. Lets use are brains I know it is hard for some of you.

    Comment by S — 10:04 am September 18, 2012 #

  13. A few things to add:
    1)If you see people drinking alcohol in the park, call 911. I guess that’s what we have been told by the SW district police.
    2)Chip Nevins stated that there were various criteria that they used to pick a property to purchase, including the square footage of the land. Chuck and Sally’s parcel is too small (he didn’t mention that they were looking at this property…that’s just my interpretation using the criteria he mentioned). Because the Short Stop property is near an existing park, it was more appealing as a purchase. He also mentioned that by adding additional uses (other than lounging at the current park), we may be able to change the character of the current park.
    3)The parks levy that Seattle approved was to acquire park land…not provide additional funds for day to day maintenance.

    Comment by dc — 10:33 am September 18, 2012 #

  14. @LongTimerWS

    If you had attended the meeting you would know that the parks department has the budget to acquire new land for parks but does not have the budget to improve and maintain those sites.

    The parks department has shifted from building new parks to improving the parks we already have which is why they are looking to acquire this property that is adjacent to an existing park that needs more space.

    This isn’t to say there isn’t any immediate, useful future for the space. At the meeting, Chip mentioned that other parks going through a similar process have put forth “interim uses” that do not require significant improvement of the park in order to implement. One idea we talked about at the meeting was projecting outdoor movies on the outer walls of the building during the warmer months. There’s a lot you could do with the space as is, though.

    One thing is for sure: The neighborhood will not be at a significant disadvantage if it suddenly loses a polluting dry cleaner and a dispensable convenience store.

    The other “sure thing” is that if we, as a community, don’t do our part to make sure the space is useful in the meantime, it will just be an abandon lot with two shuttered buildings on it.

    This is all information that can be easily gained by attending meetings such as this. I encourage you to do so in the future!

    Comment by brian — 10:49 am September 18, 2012 #

  15. I’m assuming this all about saving the land from more development, rather than the park itself. After all, we have plenty of parks, with Lincoln down the street and tons of green space. And no one is going to spend much time in a small park with attendant traffic noise and commotion – and indigents. It’s more peaceful in your home or apt.

    Comment by G — 11:58 am September 18, 2012 #

  16. After all, we have plenty of parks, with Lincoln down the street and tons of green space

    If you live in the Morgan Junction area, it’s a half mile to Lincoln Park/Gatewood and a half mile to Fairmount Park. If you have small children, this isn’t always suitable.

    And no one is going to spend much time in a small park with attendant traffic noise and commotion – and indigents. It’s more peaceful in your home or apt.

    Ignoring the defeatist attitude of “Welp, the park sucks why would I go there?”, that just isn’t true.

    People will use the park if there are features at the park worth using. The reason there is substance abuse and loitering in the park right now is because there is nothing else to do in that park but sit on a bench. Compound this with the fact that it’s across the street from a beer mart (that would no longer exist if this plan comes to fruition), and that’s why you have the problems you have.

    Comment by brian — 2:47 pm September 18, 2012 #

  17. What we need is more condos here. Parks generate no revenue. We alrady have Lincoln, Schmitz, Fairmount, etc etc. At least one of those huge parks needs to be paved for condos. Condos Condos and more Condos. Sweet revenue generating Condos.

    Comment by Big G — 4:12 pm September 18, 2012 #

  18. Actually, BG, nobody is building condos anywhere right now. They don’t sell. Everything on the boards for West Seattle (as well as other parts of the city) is an apartment development. Right across the street from this property, in fact, the Strata Apartments were once a condo-conversion project, back in the 2008 boom – didn’t work out and they went back to renting.

    Comment by WSB — 5:12 pm September 18, 2012 #

  19. I think the remaining hairs on my head just split. It’s still property taxes that will be factored into the monthly rent by the landlord.

    Comment by Big G — 5:55 pm September 18, 2012 #

  20. Lets use are brains I know it is hard for some of you.

    .

    No need for further comment…

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 11:59 am September 19, 2012 #

  21. This is a shocking use of “eminent domain”. There absolutely should be an uproar. I’m appalled on so many levels. Where does it end? Oh yeah, nowhere. Hi, because we’re “the government” we can do whatever the hell we want. Disgusting.

    Comment by Tuesday — 7:38 am September 24, 2012 #

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