For those of you who didn't see the Save 60 Acres video at the last community meeting, here it is. Since we made this video, the County has scrapped the idea of selling the park to the LWYSA and now proposes a 50 year lease.
The users of 60 acres south have sued King County over the improper playing of soccer in the 60 acres park. The suit is based on the restrictive language of a "regional park." A regional park is limited to providing recreational opportunities not typically found in the urban setting." With over a thousand fields available for soccer in King County, other user groups satisfy this definition long before Soccer. The current users are asking a judge to interpret this language.
Soccer, with King County's blessing, is simply expanding into all available land, at the expense of existing user groups, which will force some of these existing users into extinction. The shortage of land for recreational soccer fields has come about because of King County purchase of development rights on all available land found in the numerous valleys that cross King County and because of the restrictions found in the Growth Management Act.
The following presentation of Park Preservation Man addresses only the issues concerning the Farm Land Preservation Act and the Growth management Act. This presentation of Park Preservation Man does not address the issues contained in the current lawsuit.
Click here to download the entire episode as a PDF file
Wondering what all the fuss is about? Read our lawsuit against King County and decide for yourself. The suit recounts the genesis of the Sammamish River Regional Park in the late 60s, and chronicles the the Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association's many attempts to pull 60 Acres South out from under King County taxpayers over the last 20 years and the abuse of their existing lease on 60 Acres North.
The Save 60 Acres Coalition is made up of people who really care about our park and have donated untold hours of their time to help save it. Though we are all volunteers, there are expenses and we could use your help. We have set up a 60 Acres Defense Fund that will help pay legal and administrative expenses.
Please take a moment and donate whatever you can, no matter how small or large. This system accepts contribution via credit card or PayPal. Simply click on the "Donate" link in the upper right of this page to submit your donation.
Thank you very much for your support and keep those letters to King County Parks and the City Council coming in! Click here for more information on what you can do to help.
This was sent to us anonymously from a concerned citizen. Let's hope that there really Park Preserver Man somewhere in the King County Parks Department. Simply click on each page of the comic below to see it larger.
King County is planning to give the Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association (LWYSA) a long term concession agreement for 60 Acres South. What this means is that the LWYSA will exclusively manage the field and collect revenue from its use. They plan to put a parking lot on the tall grass wetland area on the east side of the field. King County has advised us that the LWYSA will be permitted to rent the field to whomever they wish at thier discretion. Why a "concession agreement"? Well, that's because a lease would be illegal. So how is this "concession agreement" different from a "lease"? Good question. This deal walks, talks and works like a lease as far as we citizens are concerned. The use of a concession agreement is a clever technical tactic King County is using to abide by the letter of the law, while avoiding its intent.
We need as many of you as possible to send email to the King County Council and tell them what you think of a public park being given over to a private organization for their sole benefit and enrichment.
Let's make this easy. Here are the relevant email addresses of your King County Council representatives, along with the Parks officials and Ron Sims himself. Simply copy and paste these into the To: line of your email and type away. Let your elected officials know that you won't stand by while they perpetrate this egregious injustice.
The King County Journal reports that King County and the LWYSA have proposed that the Seattle Area Soaring Society (SASS) will be able to use the field whenever soccer isn't in season. In fact, according to Kevin Brown, director of King County Parks, the proposed concession agreement will allow the LWYSA to rent the field all year round. And that is just what they plan to do. In fact, King County and the LWYSA propose to turn the eastern third of 60 Acres South, which is a wetland, into a parking lot. When we first met with LWYSA officials Curt Bateman and Joel Hussey over a year ago, they made it clear that the primary reason for acquiring 60 Acres South is to hold "bigger events". Don't be fooled by all the talk about plenty of access for drop-in passive users when the field isn't in use. IT WILL BE IN USE ALL THE TIME, FOR SOCCER DURING THE SUMMER, AND FOR OTHER EVENTS AND SPORTS LEAGUES THE REST OF THE YEAR.
Dave Ross spent the entire 2nd hour of this show this morning covering the conflict over 60 Acres South. He had Sherman Knight on hand to outline the situation, with listeners calling in and rebuttals from Curt Bateman of the LWYSA.
Dave himself was incredulous that the County would consider this kind of deal. Here he asks Sherman how the deal is not an "unconstitutional grant of public assets to a private organization": Click here to listen to the audio clip
At one point, Dave asked Curt Bateman of the LWYSA whether the LWYSA pays rent on 60 Acres North. Curt's response: "Well, it's a somewhat complex transact...er..a..calculation..." Click here to hear it for yourself
The Seattle Times published an article by Ashely Bach today covering the current status of the dispute between the Seattle Area Soaring Society, the Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association, and King County.
The most recent salvo in the struggle to save the park came from the Seattle Area Soaring Society along with other friends of 60 Acres South. The group filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, which asks for an order that would effectively boot the soccer association from Sixty Acres North, where it operates 17 fields.
Members of the Seattle Area Soaring Society board met with King County Parks director, Kevin Brown on Friday September 15. What they learned was startling.
First off, the Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association is indeed proposing to turn the east side of the field into a parking lot. Yes, you heard that right - a PARKING LOT. It's no wonder that the LWYSA facilities manager, Curt Bateman, was so sensitive about our last post. Curt sent us an email requesting that we remove the post speculating that LWYSA intends to build a parking lot. Evidently, even the LWYSA knows that they are doing something wrong.
The County is proposing a "concession agreement" with the LWYSA with a term of 30 years. During that time, the LWYSA will manage the park, including all scheduling. If you want to schedule the park THAT YOU PAID FOR WITH YOUR TAX DOLLARS, you will have to go to the LWYSA on bended knee and make a request. And you'll be writing those checks to the LWYSA. Furthermore, the LWYSA will be setting the price. We don't know what that will be yet, but the language in the contract allows the LWYSA to charge rates commensurate with comparable play fields. What this means to you soaring, kite, rocket and dog folks is that you will be paying higher rates because of the higher costs of maintaining the field for soccer use.
Here's the best part. LWYSA will be permitted to rent the field throughout the year. So when they say "the public can use the field whenever we're not using it", you can be sure that they will ALWAYS be using it. They plan to rent this field every possible day they can.
Finally, SASS has been pressing for some concessions to the many drop in users of 60 Acres South. The County's response to this is that they will submit this as a "request" to the LWYSA as part of the negotiations. What the County is proposing is 1 Saturday a month on which the LWYSA will not be able to schedule anything. If this is sounding a lot like the rules for that timeshare you never use, you're not far off the mark. And indeed, part of the strategy seems to be to make using the park so impractical for drop in users, that they'll eventually stop coming altogether.
The LWYSA has two key problems, parking and revenue. This tidy deal with the County will allow them to solve both those problems AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE. The proposed deal between the County and the LWYSA is so egregious and displays such wanton disregard for the taxpayer, that we can hardly believe they can talk about with straight faces. The County and the LWYSA have been busy lobbying your King County Council officials, so be sure they hear your voices as well. We can beat this if everyone speaks out.
WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please visit the Take Action page for letter templates and addresses of your King COunty Council members.
Can there be any doubt as to why LWYSA wants 60 Acres South? Sure, they will put a few soccer pitches on it, but look at this picture and decide for yourself. Make no mistake. LWYSA is planning to use our beloved community park as a PARKING LOT!
Chris Winters of the KC Journal wrote this artical, appearing in the 3/29/06 local section. One correction: KC Parks has received $0 revenue from the 60 Acres North lease over the last 10 years. 60 Acres South, with its myriad of small users, has generated thousands of dollars.
Northwest Parks has created an innovative proposal that represents a REAL win for passive and active recreation in the Sammamish Valley, as well as providing farm land for the Lake Washington Technical College. The proposal also returns 60 Acres West, which was originally purchased as part of Forward Thrust, back to recreation.
(Redmond, WA) – On March 27th, members of Save 60 Acres were notified by Bob Burns, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, that they were no longer pursuing the sale of 60 Acres South to Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association. Instead, the County is pursuing a long term lease agreement on the property, modeled after the 60 Acres North Lease.
In a phone conversation on the 27th, Burns stated the move from a sale to a lease agreement was partly in response to community concern over a private organization operating a public park. The Save 60 Acres South organization speculates that it had more to do with the looming legal and political pressure.
“We have exposed so many missteps by the County. They secretly surplused the land in 2004. There has been no study of the non-scheduled use of the public park and how the users would be effected. The conversion request with the IAC in August 2004 contained inaccurate information. And most importantly, this is an illegal sale under Forward Thrust,” stated Chuck Quenneville of the neighboring Valley Estates Homeowners Association, “They had no choice but to change course.”
The Save 60 Acres South organization remains less than enthusiastic. “This is a legal shell game,” suggested Quenneville, “The issue remains the same. Over 1000 soccer fields in King County, but only one place to launch rockets, fly gliders: 60 Acres South. A myriad of user groups are going to suffer, and soccer will gain less than 1% field space. This is not a win-win.”
What's going on? Well, we're still trying to figure that out. One reason could be that the valuation for 60 Acres South was so high that the LWYSA could not afford to buy it with the proceeds from the sale of the Muller property. It's also possible that someone at King County finally realized that the proposed deal was simply illegal.
The new proposal to lease 60 Acres South to the LWYSA for 50 YEARS is King County's latest attempt to snatch the field from the passive users and effectively give it to the LWYSA. If you look at it from their perspective, it's perfect: Same goal achieved while neatly sidestepping those pesky legal challenges from the people who actually own the park: all of us.
More detail to follow on this rapidly developing situation. In the meantime, keep those letters to your elected officials coming! We still need your support to stop this gross miscarriage of the public trust.
A recent study conducted by the University of Washington characterized the soil at 60 Acres North and South as highly unsuitable for active recreation such as soccer. The type of soil found at 60 Acres North and South is rated "severe" for use in playgrounds, according to the King County Soil Survey. The study says that the current use of 60 Acres North as a soccer field "appears to have broken down the structure of the surface soil, compacted the soil surface to about 10cm depth, and degraded its potential for supporting other uses, including simply walking across the soil."
The article makes a reference to a flying area on Fort Lewis. To be clear, there is no soaring site available at Fort Lewis.
Curt Bateman of the LWYSA is quoted as saying that the modelers could use the soccer fields for 9 months out of the year. Let's not forget that we live in the Northwest, and during much of that time, it's raining. And, as SASS member Seth Arlow points out, improvements to the field that the LWYSA will put in place, such as fences, goal posts, buildings, etc., are incompatible with model aviation.