One of West Seattle’s biggest parks will get a little bigger, if a proposal for the city to buy an adjacent parcel gets final approval. The announcement was sent tonight by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:
109-year-old Schmitz Park is on track to be expanded by a parcel at its southeast corner.
The plan, which has secured approval by the Seattle Mayor’s office, is headed for consideration by a Seattle City Council committee on Tuesday morning, Dec. 12.
Working on this plan for nearly three years is a group calling itself Friends of the Historic Schmitz Park Addition, including former Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Schmitz family spokesperson Vicki Schmitz Block, and the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.
SWSHS is pleased to congratulate and support this recent announcement, which would involve legislation for the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation to acquire the property of West Seattle resident Bruce Stotler, located at the southeast corner of historic Schmitz Park in West Seattle (see map).
This issue will be voted on in Seattle City Council committee on Tuesday, December 12, during the meeting of the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts Committee chaired by Lisa Herbold, which begins at 9:30 am and is open to public comment. If passed in committee, the legislation will go to full Council in early January.
The process began in 2015 when property owner Bruce Stotler reached out to former Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen about donating or selling (below cost) his property abutting the park. Councilmember Rasmussen led Parks Superintendent Jesús Aguirre and others on tours of the Stotler property.
(2015 photo: L-R, Bruce Stotler, Tom Rasmussen, Vicki Schmitz Block, Rasmussen staffer Evan Clifthorne)
Rasmussen and property owner Stotler later met with Councilmember Lisa Herbold in 2016, presenting goals to:
• Expand Schmitz Preserve Park by adding Bruce Stotler’s property to the park
• Allowing Stotler to live on the property through a life-estate agreement with the Parks Department
• Potential increase future accessibility to the Park at its southeast corner, potentially improving ADA access
• Establishing this agreement at a time that the property owner was willing to do so with a large donation component
Fast forward to today: Former Councilmember Rasmussen expresses his own appreciation to Mr. Stotler, Councilmember Herbold, and others for championing this issue and bringing it to the fore. “I believe this is an important step toward the preservation of our parks, and Mr. Stotler is setting a remarkable example of how an individual resident can continue in the tradition of the Schmitz family’s original gift of the park land to the City of Seattle.”
Representing the Schmitz family, Vicki Schmitz Block said, “The Schmitz Family is grateful to Mr. Stotler for his vision of adding his property to Schmitz Park, the Seattle Parks Department for agreeing to purchase this piece of land, and Mayor Jenny Durkan for shepherding the project forward. We are hopeful that this action will generate renewed interest and involvement by the community to ensure the future of this forest-like park.”
Jeff McCord, Southwest Seattle Historical Society executive director, added, “We hope to continue to provide outreach, support and advocacy for projects like this one which help to enhance our wonderful West Seattle character and environment. The prospect of having better public access to a great asset like Schmitz Park, as well as helping to expand and preserve the park for all to enjoy, is great news for our community.”
The proposed purchase agreement that’s part of the committee’s Tuesday agenda lists the price the city will pay for the 5,000-square-foot parcel as $225,000, about half its current assessed value.
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