Sunday, August 29, 2010

Vanished Lagoon - For Kah Tai

The unpronounceable speech
Of storms, the lyrical words of the sun are lovers
That ripple in blue bodies.

The lagoon is still, more than itself,
Willing our worlds away. In sleep it opens
And floods the mystical world we awake to forget.

Once gone it is gone. We are not important enough
To walk with nature, crawling toward
The oblivious lily with impassioned shears.

Those that condemn to death what they can’t repair
Will search in darkness for the center not in them,
Hauled down and drained in the sweaty torchlight
Where the hungry jury watches - the Auk, its beak clacking,
Our snuffed and exiled, children of the last whale,
Waiting in the lasting darkness for our flesh.

Each spire above the lagoon grows toward dead altitude.
The running walk of the plover, the heron mining in the shallows,
The buoyant stars--dust raised by the first wheel.

To save one of any thing, to refrain from swallowing
The delirious elixirs, to plant and not cut down; these
Are the beautiful lights the closed eye can’t see.

In the water a star is drinking beside a gull,
Fragile kinship, as the lagoon, from us, fades.

J Gary Lemons

Reprinted by author’s permission

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Kah Tai public land transfer: fair market value?

The transfer of all public lands to the City (including Port, PUD and County holdings) within the boundary of Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park was intended to occur within the time frame of the federal LWCF grant received in 1981. Numerous references to this expectation exist in the public record. However, as early as 1980, Port officials were speculating about receipt of 'fair market value' from the City for such an exchange.

In its 2010-2015 Strategic Plan, the Port insists it is the caretaker and steward of PUBLICLY-OWNED lands. WE, the public, own the lands the Port manages. So, the Port wants to sell OUR land to US, and the Port wants US to pay US fair market value for land WE already own. How does that work?

What is fair market value? If the Port assumes that Kah Tai land can be commercially developed, the 'value' is considerable. But Kah Tai land is protected in perpetuity as an outdoor wildlife park by the Federal stipulations of the funding accepted in 1981. And why should fair market value even be a consideration? The Revised Code of Washington is reasonably clear about the subject:

RCW 39.33.010: (1) The state or any municipality or any political subdivision thereof, may sell, transfer, exchange, lease or otherwise dispose of any property, real or personal, or property rights, including but not limited to the title of real property, to the state or any municipality or any political subdivision thereof, or the federal government, on such terms and conditions as may be mutually agreed upon by the proper authorities of the state and/or the subdivisions concerned.

Those 'terms and conditions' could allow the transfer for one dollar. It's OUR dollar after all. Does it really matter which one of our PUBLIC pockets it is in?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Kah Tai Promises Should be Kept

Join the Friends of Kah Tai for a community meeting, 25 August at 6:00 pm at the Uptown Community Center (corner of Lawrence and Tyler).

An audiovisual presentation and displays of historic images and documents will provide opportunities for discussion. Locals can reminisce and newcomers can hear for the first time about what promises were made, what commitments must be honored, and what the meaning of 'perpetuity' is.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bridging Kah Tai

"A new footbridge was installed at the city's Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park on May 2, 2003. The original bridge was removed in December 2002 but found to be beyond repair. The Port Townsend Shipwright's Co-op, which built the original bridge, donated some of the labor for the new bridge. Edensaw Woods donated the purple heart and ipe wood, and Julian Arthur donated his crane services. The net cost to the city is roughly $7000, City Manager David Timmons said. Photo by Barney Burke." [Port Townsend Leader, 7May03]

Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park continues to benefit from the commitment and generosity of many Port Townsend citizens. In 2001, Kah Tai was adopted by the Kah Tai Alliance as the first Port Townsend Adopt-A-Park.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What's Wrong With THIS Scheme?

In 2003, The Port of Port Townsend prepared an update of its Comprehensive Scheme of Harbor Improvements as required by Washington State (RCW Chapter 53.20). These Schemes are generally updated every 20 years (Scheme Process Introduction 1.2, p.I-1) to communicate to the public a port district’s proposed capital expenditures. An extensive public participation process was used for the updated Scheme, including a diverse advisory committee, a project website, several public workshops, and a public comment period before final adoption.

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that considered alternatives and cumulative environmental impacts of those alternatives was also a State requirement and formed the basis of a 300-page document prepared by the engineering consultant firm Reid-Middleton. The 21 acres within the boundary of Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park were included among the nine Port properties reviewed in the EIS. The draft Scheme proposed three alternative scenarios for the Port’s Kah Tai property:
  • Alternative 1.a. Use part of the site for commercial, retail, or mixed use (sell or lease) and retain the remainder as open space/park.
  • Alternative 1.b. Develop all usable portions of land for commercial, retail or mixed use, and/or dry boat storage
  • Alternative 2. Open Space and/or Park Option (No Action and Preferred Alternative)
The EIS evaluation of these Alternatives concluded that any development would result in:
  • degradation and loss of upland habitat,
  • adverse impacts to the wetland,
  • potential impacts on drainage and water quality,
  • diminished valuable greenspace and passive recreation park.
Eighty-five percent of the written public comments received by the Port dealt specifically or exclusively with the future of Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park. All of those comments recommended in the strongest terms that the Park be protected in its entirety from future development of any kind.

Alternative 2 – Open Space and/or Park Option - was officially adopted by the Port Commission. This meant that the Port intended NO planned development of any kind in the Park for the next 20 years (Chapter 7, pp. VII-2, VII-3 and VII-4) and stated an intention to "sell the entire site to a public entity, such as the City of Port Townsend, for development as a park, or the Port will retain the property and maintain it as a park and/or open space (p. 205)."