Myers Parcels = Myers Park? Campaign to preserve as open space/parkland intensifies, as city prepares ‘sale strategy’

(Click image to see city map of Myers Parcels as a full-size PDF)
The community campaign to preserve an open-space area in the southeasternmost corner of West Seattle is ramping up and drawing new attention to the so-called “Myers Parcels” (map). A widely circulated announcement of an upcoming meeting describes the land south of the Joint Training Facility as possibly “the last large, undeveloped piece of property that could become a major park in Seattle.” The original announcement of the campaign last September was reported here; word of the new effort, including an organizational meeting, led us to check on the parcels’ current status.

First: We noticed that the Department of Planning and Development files for the site suggested Seattle Public Utilities was evaluating it as recently as last fall for possible relocation of its Wastewater and Drainage operations center. But when we checked with SPU on Wednesday, spokesperson Ingrid Goodwin told us the department is no longer considering using the site. So we moved on to the Department of Finance and Administrative Services, which has responsibility for the site now. Spokesperson Julie Moore replied with background plus the status, and what’s expected to happen next:

The property was originally a gravel pit. At the time of purchase in 2003, the City intended to develop a portion as the Joint Training Facility and sell the remainder. The purchase was funded, in part, with a bridge loan for which the City now owes about $13 million. In 2006, the Seattle City Council, by ordinance 122308, declared 31 acres of the properties surplus and authorized a sale to Lowe’s, but that deal fell through. The sale transaction was not completed due to environmental and permitting issues. The subsequent downturn in the economy made a sale uneconomic.

As the recession eased, the Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) obtained environmental studies to carefully document environmental assets such as wetlands and natural steep slopes.

In 2012, FAS circulated an excess property notice to City departments, and some have evaluated the site for potential City use, but have generally found it to be inappropriate for their operational purposes. FAS is now considering options for selling the undeveloped portion while preserving environmentally sensitive areas. The property is zoned for commercial uses, and sale proceeds will likely be enough to repay the $13 million bridge loan. FAS expects to make a recommendation on a sale strategy this year.

The 2012 “excess property notice” – see it here – includes that year’s total assessed value of the parcels, listed as $38 million.

Meantime, once FAS makes its recommendation, what happens? Moore’s explanation:

As with all property dispositions, FAS’s Real Estate Services (RES) follows the Seattle City Council-adopted policies and procedures for the review process. Once the process is complete, RES issues a final report, which includes RES’ recommendation regarding the property (typically to either retain the property for use by another City department or sell it), and presents it to the Mayor for review. If the Mayor concurs with the recommendation, the Mayor sends the report to the City Council, along with legislation authorizing the reuse or sale of the property. Only the City Council can make the final decision on reuse or disposition of City-owned real property. If the Council approves the recommendation for selling a property, the property is declared “surplus” and a sale proceeds.

You might recall that part of the site was on the list of potential city-jail locations back in 2008; ultimately, the city decided it didn’t need a new jail, and the entire plan was scrapped.

Back to the community campaign to keep the site as open space – here’s the meeting announcement:

You are invited to come to the first-ever gathering of SAVE MYERS PARK, on Saturday, March 14th, 10-noon, at the offices of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, 210 S. Hudson. Call or email Cass to confirm and for questions. 206-783-9093. Or email cassturnbull@comcast.net

The announcement, which you can read in full as posted to the WSB Facebook page if you haven’t seen it elsewhere, also suggests that messages be sent to the mayor and City Council.

8 Replies to "Myers Parcels = Myers Park? Campaign to preserve as open space/parkland intensifies, as city prepares 'sale strategy'"

  • westseattledood February 26, 2015 (10:03 pm)

    Hmmm. Why are they calling it Meyers’ Park? This is not a park. It is definitely a gravel pit, with the watershed right under it which crosses Roxbury west of Olsen into the steep boggy greenbelt north of Arrowhead Gardens.

    It is my recollection that the city built the fire training center on that watershed in violation of SEPA, but quit the gravel pit as a jail site when it was learned that the watershed runs right under it. Would any development of any kind be prudent given that runoff into the DUwamish? How much will it cost to purchase and maintain Ms. Turnbull’s Park? How will she afford it? :)

  • westseattledood February 26, 2015 (10:25 pm)

    I shall call it a place holder name. Because I think Ms Turnbull is worrying too much out of ignorance of the actual facts about Lowe’s interest. OR somebody is deliberately creating the impression of eminent development and the reduction of canopy. I think the Lowe’s project fell apart many years ago because of the drainage/watershed issues and I have always had the impression that no other developers want to touch a shallow watershed because of the mitigation costs – even if it were allowed through SEPA process.

    I dunno. I could be very wrong. But somehow, I think Ms Turnbull has done a great job of dangling an impossible carrot in front of White Center and South Park. We’ll see, I suppose. But I’d love to hear how she intends to finance it.

  • KayK February 27, 2015 (7:30 am)

    WSB- did the city have any documents that show which portions are “SEPA un-buildable” and which could be developed?

  • Friend O'Dinghus March 1, 2015 (1:09 pm)

    Correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn’t a park be exactly the one thing that could be developed in an environmentally sensitive watershed?

  • westseattledood March 1, 2015 (7:11 pm)

    A park like “Discovery park” is different than a “greenbelt with trails owned by Parks Dept property”. You see?

    Also, it would be had with what money? And with what deliberation? This has been quick and hasty and given very poor consideration.

    Ms. Turnbull is suggesting a “Discovery Park-like park”. If she really cared about this as an initiative, she would have done her homework. She is, however, not discerning nor invested enough in the long term impact on this community because she does not live here to understand and know that EVERY Environmental Learning Center – such as Seahurst and Discovery Park and Seward Park – are ALL on shoreline and that is for a reason. This fact and the reasons why this is so seems to flown right over the heads of Ms. Turnbull and those whom she is courting mass petitioning. They lack proper understanding. Partners for the costs of running Environmental Learning Centers need shoreline. See, for example, Audobon, which finances Seward Park’s Interpretative Learning Center and programs. Camp Long is one of the few without shoreline, but it is ridiculous that we don’t have shoreline centers here. THAT’s what this community needs and should pursue together, not another Camp Long.

    I don’t object to purchasing however much land can be bought BUT expectations must be presented which are realistic and it should NOT compromise any other determinations of future planning which Southwest Seattle residents want for themselves.

    Ms. Turnbull is way off base and, frankly, way out of line. She doesn’t live here and she doesn’t know that an Environmental Learing Center COULD realistically be written into Master plans for the Duwamish River in South Park. The river is well into a 20-year Superfund cleanup timeline and development along the river is inevitable, perhaps. This is a golden opportunity to provide eco-industry jobs and education in South Park. We owe that community this consideration for its future IF they choose to pursue such possibilities for themselves. Ms. Turnbull doesn’t understand this, evidently.

    I have been talking to people all over the city for this very notion for a handful of years. Southwest Seattle must have an Environmental Learning Center SOMEWHERE and I have tried to get Lincoln Park advocates on board with it and this is where Ms. Turnbull picked that up after hunting around for local support of her dreams of acquisition. It’s not because a “DIscovery Park-like park” was her original objective.

    She doesn’t live here. She just wants canopy. Or maybe immortality. I can’t really tell from this distance. But I did talk to her on the phone about these very things and seems she didn’t hear me. She likes to talk and was quite myopic in her pursuit of a local army to do her bidding. But we locals need to think VERY carefully here about what possibilities TRULY are for a SOuthwest Environmental Learning Centers.

    imho.

  • Cass Turnbull March 1, 2015 (8:45 pm)

    My question to westseattledood, what would you like to see done with this land? I can’t quite understand the nature of your objections.

    Yes, I am trying to keep the property green, not more concrete because I see a future filled with way more people, but not way more green space. When it is gone, it is gone for good. The land is in the disposition process currently and is recommended for sale for commercial development. I have been told by FAS that the wetland problems ‘have been resolved’.

    Is the objection to my effort the final cost to the tax payer? Or that limited Park acquisition money would be better spent elsewhere? That the idea competes with the location of an environmental learning center elsewhere? Is it that the exact use of the green space has not been determined? Must the exact final use be determined before the land is prevented from being sold for development? because I promise you it will be sold, and soon, if we don’t do something to stop it.

    Yes, it is obvious that I didn’t hear you. Could you state the point of your objections more clearly? And, please, what is it that you do want?

  • Mary Fleck March 4, 2015 (10:05 am)

    Anybody interested in the future of these open spaces is invited to Seattle Green Spaces Coalition’s meeting on Sunday, March from 3 to 4:45 at Southwest Library in West Seattle. We want to hear what “locals” say. When it comes to our ecosystem, we are all connected.

    Mary Fleck, co-chair, Seattle Green Spaces Coalition

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