BREAKING: Mayor says city will keep Myers Way Parcels, instead of selling; Councilmember Herbold ‘pleased’

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(Photo by Cory Bagley – aerial view of western Myers Way Parcels land, from earlier this week)

FIRST REPORT, 4:44 PM: Another big announcement from Mayor Ed Murray this afternoon: The city will keep the southeastern West Seattle land known as the Myers Way Parcels, instead of selling some or most of it. The news release just in:

Following months of community input, Mayor Ed Murray today announced the planned usage for the Myers Way property in Southwest Seattle.

“Thank you to those who shared their input on the future of the Myers Way property,” said Murray. “The City will retain the land, dedicating the four-acre northernmost portion for important fire training needs and expanding the Joint Training Facility. The remainder of the property will be retained and designated for open space and/or recreation purposes, consistent with the community response provided through our outreach. At a future date, Seattle Parks and Recreation will conduct further public outreach to determine how best to use the property.”

Seattle Parks and Recreation does not currently have resources needed to immediately repurpose the site, but the Department will retain the property as one of its “land banked” sites. Holding such properties ensures that valuable open space is not lost, even if resources for repurposing the property are not immediately available.

The Myers Way property is one of the largest pieces of undeveloped City-owned land and is adjacent to the Seattle-White Center border.

A sale of some of the land was supposed to fund part of the city’s homelessness programs – to the tune of $5 million – so we’ll be asking a followup on where that money will come from instead. (Added: Mayoral spokesperson William Lemke tells WSB that will be addressed in the mayor’s budget proposal this fall.)

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ADDED 5 PM: Just in from Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who (as shown in the photo above) toured the site with community members and city reps two months ago today:

I’m pleased to learn that the Executive will not be moving forward with the plan to sell the Myers Way parcels. This issue is important to many residents residing in Top Hat, Highland Park, South Park, Arbor Heights, as well as citywide environmental groups such as Seattle Green Spaces Coalition and TreePAC. This is a significant and important victory for the community who has worked so hard to bring the value of these properties to the attention of City decision-makers.

I had been contacted by various community stakeholders regarding the proposed sale of approximately 12 of the 33 acres known as “Myers Parcels,” owned by the City of Seattle and declared “Excess to the Department’s needs.” In May, I organized a tour of the properties with community stakeholders and City Staff. Community members had sought assurances the decision about selling this property will occur only after the entire community, specifically low income renters, people of color and non-English speaking residents are meaningfully engaged and that FAS apply the Racial and Social Justice Toolkit and follow the Equity and Environment Action Agenda before deciding what to do with this land.

In 2014, the White Center/Greater Duwamish area was identified as the fifth most highly impacted community in the Puget Sound Region “characterized by degraded air quality, whose residents face economic or historic barriers to participation in clean air decisions and solutions.” Due to the severity of air quality and contamination already present in this area, I had expressed my concern to the Executive that active use of these parcels might result in further air quality degradation.

Many organizations, such as the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, have worked diligently for many years to clean up our waterways and have expressed concerns about the implications of development on Hamm Creek and the watershed within these properties. In response to these concerns as well as those related to air quality, I’d requested the following from the Executive:

Multilingual communication, so that members of immigrant communities could take part in the decision making process.

Additional information to catalogue the geological and hydrological elements of the property, their ecosystem services, and their beneficial uses to the community prior to making a disposition recommendation to the Council.

A health impact assessment that addresses the air quality contributions made by these land parcels, vs. air quality degradation from further development prior to making a disposition recommendation to the Council, rather than based upon a particular proposed development.

We’ve been reporting for years on what’s been going on to try to determine the future of this ~33-acre site (which was even considered in 2008 for the never-built city jail project). You can browse our archived coverage by clicking MYERS WAY PARCELS beneath this story’s headline, and scrolling through the stories (including our coverage of the big community meeting June 30th).

37 Replies to "BREAKING: Mayor says city will keep Myers Way Parcels, instead of selling; Councilmember Herbold 'pleased'"

  • dsa July 13, 2016 (4:59 pm)

    The mayor got this one correct.

  • PigeonPointBen July 13, 2016 (5:10 pm)

    Congratulations and thanks to all those who worked so hard organizing around this effort

  • kumalavula July 13, 2016 (5:30 pm)

    woooooo-whoooooo! after what has felt like weeks of bad news following bad news, this positive decision is more than welcome for our community. 

    i, too, want to extend heartfelt thanks to all who worked so hard to ensure this land doesn’t become developed into more concrete.

  • Oakley34 July 13, 2016 (5:44 pm)

    +1

  • Denise July 13, 2016 (5:49 pm)

    Thanks to everyone who worked so hard on this! And thanks WSB! West Seattle is so lucky to have you. You do incredible work for this community.

  • Oakley34 July 13, 2016 (5:50 pm)

    ….especially in light of the Republican’s proposed addition to their party platform to sell off federal land in the west.  Keep green what we can keep green…

  • Ana Vasudeo July 13, 2016 (6:31 pm)

    This is wonderful! Great job Seattle Green Spaces Coalition,  the White Center Community Development Association, TreePAC,  and many other partners for leading the advocacy campaign to Save Myers!

  • Mark Ahlness July 13, 2016 (6:31 pm)

    Fantastic news! Many thanks to the people and groups who worked so hard on this – in particular, Seattle Green Spaces Coalition and Plant Amnesty!

  • john July 13, 2016 (6:45 pm)

    Did the mayor mention how the money he  earmarked for the homeless from these sales is now going to be made up without the sale of these parcels?

    • WSB July 13, 2016 (7:04 pm)

      That’s addressed in our story – it wasn’t in the news release but I followed up immediately. A mayoral spokesperson told us that will be addressed in his proposed budget this fall. – TR

  • lookingforlogic July 13, 2016 (7:11 pm)

    I met Lisa when running for council and she struck me as someone that would actually put in the time and effort to accomplish needed tasks.  This is a great use of public assets.

  • Sam-c July 13, 2016 (7:34 pm)

    Woo hoo plus one. Thank you councilmember Herbold!

  • AmandaKH July 13, 2016 (7:40 pm)

    The power of grassroots community led efforts.  The very voices the Mayor wants to shut down and “sever ties with”.  Great work neighbors!

  • Hoku July 13, 2016 (8:32 pm)

    The grassroots effort would never gotten a foothold without the WSB letting all of us know about this pending sale. Knowledge is power! Thank you WSB for being such an incredible resource for our community! Many thanks to Lisa Herbold, Mary Fleck, Cass Turnbull and all of the others who invested their time and efforts to make sure the City didn’t let go of this invaluable resource!

  • Kimbee2 July 13, 2016 (9:25 pm)

    Result! Result from the community coming together in solidarity. Well done, everyone!

  • Cory Jon July 13, 2016 (10:07 pm)

    This is great news! Let’s continue to keep this oasis of undeveloped land as green as possible. It really is a special place. You can see some photos of the Myers Way property by clicking here.

    • HBB July 14, 2016 (5:29 pm)

      Those photos were taken immediately after an extensive clean-up. More representative images are available hereherehere, and here. The area has the potential to look as it does in Cory’s photos, but absent funding (and interest) on the part of the city to properly maintain the parcels, it will look as it does in the photos I’ve linked to above. 

  • Gunner Scott July 13, 2016 (10:17 pm)

    Highland Park Action Committe is excited to see this news today. Thank you to Seattle Green Spaces Coaltion and a Tree Pac for bringing this to our attention and Council member Lisa Herbold for bringing in the surrounding communities for these important discussions. 

  • SeattleConservative July 13, 2016 (10:23 pm)

    Great place for a big homeless encampment. We could attract homeless from all over the country, and shower them with Seattle taxpayer largesse.

    Start a needle exchange, and set up some tents where the  working girls can have some privacy, and folks can shoot up in peace.

    thanks, Mayor Murray, for all your progressive ideas,and thanks, Seattle voters- I didn’t think you could outdo Schwinn McGinn.

    • HBB July 14, 2016 (5:15 pm)

      This area is already home to a large homeless encampment. I can’t recall if WSB reported on the most recent death from a heroin overdose in the area, but a bit of quick Googling should yield several recent media reports detailing some of the problems associated with prostitution and  intravenous drug use in the area. 

      As a nearby resident, I am disappointed in this decision, because it means that this area will continue to serve as a neglected dumping ground and unregulated RV park. While I appreciate the aspirations of those who want this area to remain undeveloped, the reality is that this area is unsafe and despoiled, and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. 

  • Tedb310 July 14, 2016 (5:26 am)

    This is a great opportunity for additional open space that will not only benefit neighborhoods in Seattle, but also the communities that lie beyond our southern border.  I hate to be Debbie Downer here but I am concerned about funding.  My understanding is that Dept. of Parks & Rec can’t just be “given” this land by the city, they have to buy it for market value.  Then improvements, development etc will come on top of that.  Where will the funding come from?  The city just got through passing a charter that created the Seattle Parks District.  As part of that process a citizens advisory committee was established that conducted an exhaustive review of what Parks had, what these assets needed in terms of maintenance, and what Parks users wanted in the future.  The part of their report that sticks out is that there is a $267 million backlog on maintenance.  So all this being said, adding a large multi-acre park to the system will take a lot of money.  I see three choices here: first, more money from the general fund, second, a higher tax rate from the Parks District, or three, taking money from other planned Parks expenditures.  Either of the last two will leave some citizens who voted for the Parks District measure a little upset.  They will feel like there were promised one thing during the election, but had things switched afterwards.

    • WSB July 14, 2016 (4:11 pm)

      Here is what Parks tells us about this: “To clarify, the property will be conveyed from the Finance and Administrative Services Department to Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) by ordinance and there will be no cost to SPR. Because SPR has no funding to conduct a public process to plan the park, or to develop it, the property will be “land-banked” like the properties acquired with funding from the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy were, until funding becomes available.”

      And a BTW from me: Current landbanked sites in West Seattle include the Morgan Junction Park expansion, the 40th SW site north of Broadstone Sky, and the grassy site at the bottom of Charlestown Hill (the hill that’s just west of California SW). Development money IS coming from the Park District levy, so processes will ensue soon. – TR

  • john July 14, 2016 (7:32 am)

    Thank you TEDB310,

    It will indeed be interesting to watch what actually happens to these parcels.

    I will lay bets that in five years, few improvements will be seen.  It will look the similar to nearly all the other green spaces that have been neglected, are buried by insufficient funds.  The city’s noble use of volunteers is simply not keeping up.  Our public owned green spaces are an embarrassment to our aspirations of the “Emerald City” as unabated invasives flourish.  

    The mayor has clearly folded under pressure form the “grass roots” activists, nearly all middle aged white homeowners that do not represent the make-up of the community (just look at WSB’s wide shot of the meeting where there was a translator but no one to translate to). 

    I never saw any concern or even presence of homelessness discussion in the demands made by Green Space Coalition.

    It is a remarkable turnaround victory for the propaganda of the groups involved.  They used every tactic  (some questionable) and dominated the local press with seemingly unlimited access.  

    Now the Parks has been saddled with a challenging property it cannot afford to buy much less maintain in a responsible way.

    And our Mayor has punted on his promise of homeless funding.

    Time will tell.

    • AmandaKH July 14, 2016 (9:03 am)

      Oh John,  how I’ve missed your baseless rhetoric.  Have you been on vacation?

      • John July 14, 2016 (11:40 am)

        AmandaKH,

        Thanks for the call out.

        I would love a response to the concerns I raised.

        Please do expose my rhetoric as baseless.

    • Nancy Folsom July 14, 2016 (9:49 am)

      I’d totally be for paving. Paving it all! But even pavement needs maintenance. Dammit. Guess nukes are the only answer.

  • Mike July 14, 2016 (9:18 am)

    Why does the Parks Department have to do  anything to the parcel?  Why can’t we just leave it is a wild open green space.  Our American society has this obsession that every piece of property has to look neat and tidy.  Leave it as it is, and nature will do what it needs to.

  • Pedrillo July 14, 2016 (9:27 am)

    That is Good News all around.  Thankyou to all who made it happen.

  • Nancy Folsom July 14, 2016 (9:47 am)

    Congratulations to the activists who worked on this issue, and thanks to our Councilmember Herbold for her unwavering responsiveness to her constituents.

  • Question Mark July 14, 2016 (9:54 am)

    I noticed that there have been rumblings by the city to acquire more parkland in the north end by Roosevelt High School through eminent domain. At the same time there were justifications there that more park land is needed, the rhetoric for the Myers Way parcels was exactly the opposite …

    http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/landlord-fights-citys-effort-to-seize-seattle-site-for-new-park/

  • Alan July 14, 2016 (10:11 am)

    I congratulate the city on doing the right thing in a timely manner. Selling real estate to pay for things can become overly attractive, but it is a forever decision based on an immediate need. When the city wanted to sell the  Soundway property, our neighborhood was forced into years of battle and fundraising. We have enough other battles to fight without this. Thanks for saving us from that.

  • Alan July 14, 2016 (10:29 am)

    BTW – I notice that WSB asked a question at the end of the comments in the link I provided. I must not have seen it at the time, but seven years later I have an excuse to reply.

    Yes, there was a thought that there might be a bridge built to Vashon and I do think that it must have continued across to the Southworth area, but I don’t recall that clearly. This possibility was considered for Soundway, but it was primarily to be built like 509, to move people more efficiently in and out of West Seattle.

    I had forgotten that this idea came up again later. That is probably the story that you are remembering.

    Seven years late on my reply is better than nothing.

  • Richard Ellison July 14, 2016 (11:28 am)

    Yeah to Cass Turnbull for her vision to see and save this parcel of open space, and her determination to rally the green and open space community to build up a political storm for City Hall ! Yeah to the Seattle community for fighting for a beautiful open space, and waking up the sleeping politicos! 

  • Hansen July 14, 2016 (1:50 pm)

    Great, now the mayor can focus on shoving high density housing in already established neighborhoods!

  • Nancy Folsom July 16, 2016 (12:50 pm)

    Today’s headline in the Times NW section was a nasty insinuation. “Land sale near White Center ruled out for aid to the homeless.”

  • Trace July 16, 2016 (1:20 pm)

    I’m a nearby resident of this space, and I would very much like to see SOMEthing done with it. As it is, there’s a homeless camp so big it actually has roads leading into it, and there are enough derelict cars and RVs on the side of the road to shoot an extra scene from Mad Max (including a Rolls Royce Phantom, bizarrely). I am a huge advocate for open spaces and parks, but I have a feeling that the terrain in this area would make it difficult to maintain or make safe enough for the public to enjoy it without a metric tonne of money getting pumped into it. I’m certain there are many pros & cons for developing the area or not, but my gut tells me that leaving it wild is asking for more trouble from the homeless for residents of the area. Time will tell…

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