(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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.