By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Almost a year after the Barton Pump Station Upgrade Project north of the Fauntleroy ferry dock was finished, and adjacent Cove Park restored and reopened, a loose end dangles: The future of the little white beachfront house at 8923 Fauntleroy Way SW, immediately north of Cove Park.
King County bought it to use as a construction office during the three-year pump-station project.
Now, as was revealed in a discussion at last night’s Fauntleroy Community Association meeting, there’s a chance its site could become a slice of city parkland – at little-to-no cost for the city. Sort of an expansion of Cove Park, though that is actually a community-maintained, SDOT-owned street end.
Some neighbors are adamantly opposed to the idea, wanting the house to remain in use as a single-family residence, and were at the FCA meeting to say that directly to Chip Nevins, acquisition manager for Parks, who was there, he said, as early “due diligence” in determining the site’s fate.
Nevins explained that while Parks generally wouldn’t have an interest in acquiring Fauntleroy-area property, since the area is already “rich” in parkland – including Lincoln Park a short distance north – it would be hard to resist a chance to get something like this for free or near-free. If someone was told “do you want to make the park bigger and it won’t cost you any money, why wouldn’t you?” he asked.
Assessor’s records show the county bought the 2-bedroom, 1-bath, 1948-built house and its 35-foot-wide, one-third-acre lot (tidelands included) for $950,000 in 2008. Now, it’s considered surplus, and that status, as with most government agencies, triggers a disposition process. Nevins said the county has suggested a sort of swap might be possible – its pump station includes some land leased from SDOT that, like Cove Park, is technically part of the Barton street end, but if it could get possession of that land – through a street-vacation process – the city could wind up with 8923 Fauntleroy Way in return.
This would be something of a complicated process, not just because of the street vacation, but also because Parks would want to figure out if there is community interest in acquiring the beachfront site. So a public meeting will be organized, and some other means of feedback will be set up. City Councilmember Lisa Herbold was at last night’s meeting – to “observe” this item, she explained – and indicated she’d already been hearing from “both sides”; if a street vacation is involved, it ultimately would require approval from the City Council, so she and her colleagues also would be getting feedback.
If the site was accepted by Parks, what would be done with it? one attendee asked. Nevins suggested at one point that at the very least they would probably want the county to pay to have the house demolished, so that wouldn’t become the city’s responsibility. Beyond that – maybe open space? Or at least some plantings? One neighbor expressed concern that while the current administration might decide on that, someone down the line might decide to build a picnic shelter or other facilities that could attract more, and more problematic, usage.
Nevins reiterated that many questions remain to be answered – such as, has the city been making money in permit payments for the county’s usage of the pump station site, and would that be revenue lost in this prospective deal? (If we’ve found the correct city legislation, it appears the county pays the city $84,387 a year.)
And, he added, many layers of process remain to be gone through. The public meeting would likely happen before summer, though, so stay tuned; if the city and county moved forward with what in essence would be a “trade,” the process would likely take up to two more years.