(Click to see full-size PDF)
11:17 AM: For the first time since the city Finance and Administrative Services‘ “draft recommendations” about the Myers Way Parcels came out – May 25th, as first reported here – we’re hearing from the group that’s been the loudest voice for keeping the site as open space.
The Seattle Green Spaces Coalition calls FAS’s three-part recommendation (update – here’s the PDF summarizing it) “short-sighted,” saying that the city has been less than thorough in evaluating the site’s ecology and its value, and in reaching out to the community. Here’s its statement:
The 33 acres of Myers Parcels is the largest plot of undeveloped land that the City of Seattle owns. It provides a wide range of benefits for the City of Seattle, and people in the White Center, Highland Park, South Park, Roxbury, Delridge and Georgetown neighborhoods. The City’s Finance & Administrative Services (FAS) Department issued a formal Notice of Excess Property for a large area of Myers Parcels on January 15, 2016. But it only distributed notice to a limited number of people. Then on May 25, 2016, FAS presented its draft recommendation for disposing of Myers acreage at the Highland Park Action Committee meeting.
The Seattle Green Spaces Coalition (SGSC) finds the draft recommendation short-sighted, and calls on FAS to withdraw it. It also calls on FAS to significantly increase engagement with the affected neighborhoods, and to re-assess the Myers Parcels ecology.
The FAS Department’s top-down recommendation runs contrary to Mayor Murray’s Equity and Environmental Action Agenda, which call for grassroots, community-driven planning.
FAS recommends breaking up and selling off parts of Myers Parcels, before it has assessed the current value of this forested area, which contains a watershed with two streams that feed clean water into the Duwamish River.
SGSC is working with numerous individuals and community organizations, such as White Center Community Development Association (WCCDA), Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association and others, to demand robust community engagement, and clear strategies to promote environmental sustainability and social justice.
The FAS recommendation presents nothing new. It does not take into account any of the 400+ comments sent to FAS, nor the more than 800 signers on SGSC’s change.org petition calling for the City to stop the sale until communities are fully involved in the future of this site, and new environmental studies are conducted.
FAS recommends using part of the land immediately south of the Joint Training Facility for an expanded parking lot, selling the flat portion of the site for a commercial warehouse operation, and keeping the unmarketable wetlands and critical slope, with the addition of a possible adventure park on the critical slope above SR 509. FAS does not take into account that Myers Parcels holds origins of Hamm Creek, part of the most fragile link in Chinook Salmon Recovery, and within the Superfund Site of the first five miles of the Duwamish River. Its plan does not keep that watershed healthy, or help to restore the Duwamish River and promote salmon habitat. While we are spending millions of taxpayer dollars to clean up the Duwamish River, it makes no sense to jeopardize this watershed. As a city we should be improving it, not building warehouses around it.
The land has healthy, mature trees that filter water, retain storm water run-off, control erosion, clean the air and help keep the city cool. They create a green buffer for the communities of South Park and White Center. Decreasing the green buffer by selling it for warehouse operations will degrade air quality with increased car and truck pollution. Increased hardscape will also increase stormwater runoff. The inclusion of an adventure park can also potentially degrade the forest and wildlife habitat.
FAS’s recommendation to “slice and dice” this land, selling off parts of it, fails to recognize the land’s value as a whole. In a true “balance,” clean water and clear air would clearly win out over more warehouses that South Park and White Center do not need.
Seattle Green Spaces Coalition demands meaningful community engagement and a valuation of all the benefits this land does and can continue to provide. If we are going to live up to the commitment of the Equity & Environment Action Agenda and our Climate Action Plan, important questions must be answered:
· What is the most environmentally friendly use of the land?
· What is healthiest for the neighborhoods?
· What ecosystem services will the proposed uses provide or reduce?
· Will wildlife habitat be enhanced or reduced?
· Will it be of use and used by the diverse communities?
· What will its value be in the future for different uses?
· How broadly will the land serve diverse community and the City?
· How will it impact the watershed and recovery of the Duwamish River?
· What are the land’s unique features and role in the ecosystem?
· What will be the interplay of planned upland development of housing and the land?
· Who will benefit from commercial development?
· Would alternate uses such as fee activities benefit or exclude neighboring communities?
So far, over 850 people have signed Seattle Green Spaces Coalition’s online petition demanding a robust, transparent and inclusive community engagement so that all people can participate in the decision-making process.
The city’s webpage with information about the parcels is here. Two weeks before the draft report came out, we toured part of the site with FAS reps, community members, and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold – see that report here.
ADDED 12:49 PM: We checked back with FAS’s Hillary Hamilton, who provided electronic versions of the draft-recommendations map and summary, both of which you’ll now see above. She says a public meeting is still planned but that they’re not yet ready to finalize the announcement. Meantime, comments are still being taken, she reiterates:
Comments are taken continuously through the review process, and a full report of people’s names and comments will be provided to the City Council before any decision is made. People can send comments at any time; we will acknowledge receipt. Those who contact us can be sure to be on the mailing list for updates. Email or regular postal mail is encouraged to Daniel Bretzke, Real Estate Services, Dept. of Finance and Administrative Services. Email is Daniel.email@example.com. Postal address is Daniel Bretzke, FAS Real Estate Services, P.O. Box 94689, Seattle, WA 98124-4689.