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 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.
(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.”
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.
Ashley Bach of the Seattle Times wrote another artice regarding 60 Acres South. A thought to consider while reading the article: Susan Bjork, quoted as speaking out against the park sale, is a board member of Emerald City, a Seattle youth soccer organization.
New signage appeared at 60 Acres North welcoming passive use. For years, signs hung stating CLOSED TO ALL USES, allowing use only scheduled by LWYSA. After months of pressure from Save 60 Acres, those signs have come down, replaced by signs permitting passive use once again on 60 Acres North.
This section of the Sammamish River Regional Park was established for the bennefit of all King County residents, and they are welcome to use the park for passive recreation.