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.)
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).