By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The city-owned 30+ acres of southeast West Seattle land known as the Myers Way Parcels aren’t even officially up for sale – yet – but a prospective buyer has emerged with a new idea:
A commercial zipline-and-ropes-course park.
“My guy can provide the most elegant and simple solution to the whole problem,” declared Douglas Plager, who says he represents Brian Funtleyder, the owner of The Adventure Park at Long Island in Wheatley Heights, NY. “Leave the trees, clean out the trash, the Scotch broom, the blackberries, clear it all out, employ 40 or 50 people.”
We learned about this proposal via Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s legislative assistant Andra Kranzler, who forwarded Plager’s information to those who toured part of the Myers land with Herbold last week (WSB coverage here); the councilmember herself told us last night that she has not spoken with anyone involved with this proposal.
During last week’s tour, two managers from the city Finance and Administrative Services department, which is in charge of city-owned real estate like this and its disposition, said that most of the interest they’ve had so far involved commercial warehouse-type operations – something like the Lowe’s proposal that went as far as City Council approval a decade ago and then fell through.
Green-space advocates have voiced their hope that the land could be preserved as open space, with the Duwamish River just downslope, and pollution concerns including the Duwamish Valley’s air as well as the river’s water.
Mayor Murray already has come down on the side of selling at least part of it – declaring last November that $5 million from potential proceeds would go to help pay for the city’s ongoing efforts to help people experiencing homelessness. Though the land was purchased more than a decade ago, so the city could build the nearby Joint Training Facility, it’s not even entirely paid off.
Plaget thinks an adventure park would be a “fabulous and perfect solution to the problem, with no environmental impact” – and one of the few feasible ways to use the site, which he says he has visited and believes to be “unstable” for uses such as housing. “The site prep alone would preclude any sense of profit.”
The prospective buyer’s Adventure Park at Long Island opened two years ago. Plager describes his client as a “former hedge fund manager, well capitalized.” According to what we’ve found online, Funtleyder and wife Lorrie Funtleyder operate the Long Island park in partnership with Outdoor Ventures, a builder and operator of these types of facilities. Plager says his client also is looking at additional sites such as “72 acres in Covington.”
He says they’ve “had some talks” with FAS already and thought Councilmember Herbold’s office would be interested; he is hoping eventually to make contact with everyone on the 9-member council, which will have the ultimate say on whether the property is put up for sale. During our tour last week, the FAS managers said they expect to deliver a preliminary report on the site to the council soon, and that a final decision could happen as soon as September. If the site is put on the market, Plager declares, they’ll “make an offer” and hope to “put (the land) back on the tax rolls.” He thinks his client would be a “shining knight” for the site’s future.
This wouldn’t be the first time an enterprise like this has been suggested in West Seattle – you might recall the proposal for GoApe in Lincoln Park scrapped four years ago after community opposition – but the differences in this potential proposal would be many, topped by the fact that the Myers land is not already a park and is zoned for commercial development.
But before this early-stage proposal – or any other potential offer for the site – can proceed, the City Council would have to decide whether to put the land up for sale in the first place, and for how much. FAS says it’s already been shopped around to city departments, including Parks, but none have expressed interest.
P.S. If you’re still not sure where this land is – here’s a Google Map.